Sven Stilinović, Collage, 1974

Sven Stilinović
Collage, 1974
analogue photography, silverprint
960 x 1770 mm

The youngest member of the Group of Six Authors, Sven Stilinović (1956), was strongly attracted to film and photography in the early stages of his artistic career. Even as a teenager, he made short films, questioning film conventions such as narration, camera position, and framing. He approached photography in the same way, questioning its objectivity and tendency to present the world as a self-sufficient fragment of reality, sacrificing the entirety of human perception in favor of a formally rounded visual fragment. In the 1970s, together with Fedor Vučemilović and Željko Jerman, he un-dertook a series of experiments in photography: he disrupted the relationship between positive and negative images, “spoiled” scenes with chemical stains and multiple exposures, and cut out finished photographs, randomly reassembling them. When working in the realm of traditional photography, in turn, he depicted subjects that pointed to the dark side of civilization, such as illegal waste dis-posal and ruins. In a way, Stilinović’s “Collage” connects his experimental and traditional approaches to photography. On one hand, he extensively modifies the photographic image, negating its repre-sentational objectivity. There is actually a certain destructive activity in “Collage,” a series of artistic processes that express a different form of the call made by Stilinović's friend Jerman: “Drop dead, photography!”. On the other hand, the abandoned car, along with the applied wire and padlock, symbolically indicate Stilinović’s open rebellion, which takes on forms of anarchism within broader social frameworks. Known in the public as the “enfant terrible of the Croatian art scene,” this art-ist’s conflict with the majority of artistic and social norms was both the trigger and the driving force of his work. After deconstructing artistic conventions, Stilinović turned his critical edge, his “J'Accuse...!” towards society. After creating a Yugoslav flag out of razor blades in 1984, he declared social reproduction, through a series of unsettling performances, as “geometry of bloodthirstiness”.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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