Art Action Group speaks to the world
Humble artists create touching work on the trials of humanity
The group SKART (scraps) was founded in 1990 in the adandoned graphic studio at the faculty of Architecture in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia. After their training in classical graphic disciplines, group members Djordje Balzamovic and Dragan Protic started conveying their new experiences in books and objects - the first copies of which were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris within the international exhibition " The Book In All Forms"
This action, later named "the graphic manipulation", was extended as the group came in contact with media. Their following project was "SKART wishes you a Nice day!" where every week, for a whole year, the group flooded the city of Belgrade with posters and radio messages. The content of the posters was first announced on the radio B992 (SKART-News), then put up in various places all over the town as well as sent to indiividuals and institutions the world over.
The group then held several exhibitions in private houses in collaboration with Stevo Zigon, leading actor of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre in Belgrade and also a Dachau concentration camp survivor when he was an eleven year-old boy. Composer Al El Zahir and sociologist and percussionist Charles Zowsky also collaborated.
In December 1992 the proclamation "The Attempted Killing of Belgrade" was read on the radio and published in an indifferent press. This was the starting point of the project SADNESS."........Empty days before the holidays. Empty Shops. Empty pockets. Empty Tomorrow.`The Sadness of the potential consumer`was given away to people at the department store entrance. Some people returned the gift. They had no need for anything any more...." From then on SKART printed weekly small hand-made SADNESS cardboard booklets and gave away copies to passers-by at different city locations. The gift-givings were photographed by Vesna Pavlovic which later gave a permanent visual dimension to what was at the beginning a purely literary project.
At times SADNESS was suspended due to lack of money. Sometiems there was no cardboard, other times no printing dye. SKART never gave up; " The sadness of potential traveller, the sadness of potential winner, the sadness of potential vegetables; of potential return, potential hell, the sadness of potential friendship, potential rifles, potential field.
Skart produced twenty three printed issues of sadness in nine months. Said group members "Skart´s SADNESS is the public declaration of our personal sadness... a project that realised an underlying whisper in the background of the general hollering." Skart´s SADNESS was a true amulet against sadness; small pieces of cardboard with the truth of a particular time.
The next phase in the development of Skart´s actions were readings and performances. Group member Dragan Protic entered poems in poetry festivals under the name of his friends. Many poems were given awards as were the "fake" poets. Skarts actions are deeply embedded in humour and often emphasize the absurdity of things. Skart ask of us to take ourselves a little less seriously and coache us to grander generosity.
In the autumn of 1993 , the technical love-poem
" Armature" was peformed by a female choir, trumpet, french horn players from the Belgrade grind core band "URGH!", actors, and laser beams. The only verse of the hymn was "Armature is the only thing that connects us". In a contemporary art survey for 1993 , the curator for the Museum of Applied Arts Dragan Zivkovic stated that two opposite events had accentuated the year: the demolition of the old bridge in Mostar (built 1566) by heavy artillery and ARMATURE by Skart.
Skart then returns to its architectural roots in a joint exhibition "Journalists in Dark Times". Other art-books published by Skart are "Wedding poems", "The Knee" and "Pocitelj - Dogs are just walking chairs", to name but a few.
Other Skart actions include the project "I am not guilty", dedicated to a girl who was accused of disturbing peace as she was selling magazines in the street. Skart printed cards with the words "I am not guilty", which she took with her to trial and which Skart also distributed to individuals and institutions world wide.
Students "Cordon against Cordon action" in January 1997 marked the beginning of a new form of protest against a several months long siege of the city by the regime and its police. Standing continually face to face with the armed police cordon they endured a whole week, in the middle of winter. Throughout the day and some of the night the vigil turned into a people´s rebellion carnival with as many as hundreds of thousands of people that would quickly be reduced to a few resolutes in the early morning hours. Skart would distribute a "Permit for the Free Walk in All Directions" to the persevering ones. The permit was cardboard stamped with rubber stamps with a chord serving as a necklace. On January 27th , the senseless police cordon withdrew.
Skart lives and works mostly in Belgrade but also collaborates with other artists and projects internationally. Projects with Stockholm based production unit Intercult include Hotel Europa and the ongoing project SEAS uniting artist from the Baltic and Adriatic Seas. Wherever Skart travels to and whoever they may meet, they leave nobody unmoved; provoking a wide array of reactions from curiosity or bewilderment to utter awe and gratitude. Stevo Zigon wrote about Skart (literary magazine Knjizevna Rec no.391 in March 9, 1992).."What I find beautiful in efforts and results of the group Skart is on the one hand the poetry of nothingness and on the other the poetry of ordered modesty. All these things of theirs which they named scraps/skart, the things made out of something that stupid mankind discarded, all the things are the proof that nothing on this planet should go to waste. I think what Skart does is aesthetics of modesty."
Author: Annika Salomonsson
SKART is an art action group founded in 1990 by Dragan Protic and Djordje Balmazovic. SKART has become one of Europe’s most well-known art action groups and has won various awards (Silver Medal at World Exhibition of Intentions: Eureka, Brussels in 1993). The group participates in exhibitions with installations and concepts. Sight, sound and surprise are their tools. SKART has mounted more than 10 solo exhibitions and participated in group-art events all over the world. SKART also produces graphic design for several theatre festivals, art events and radio. Some of its productions include: Sofia: shave yourself, wash yourself and kill yourself, you crooked-legs bitch - graffiti performance, Belgrade (1998); Additional survival coupons (work in progress) - Stockholm, European Capital of Culture; Village fair in Beli Potok, Serbia (1998): FRON’t - art activism against violence (1999).
Exhibition / Installation,
A one-week lab with children and local artists/collaborators led by Skart in different countries. Various “self-made culture” skills, initiatives and rebellions are the tools for transforming the danger of consumerist lullaby into an international network of children’s inventions.
MEKANIKA POPULAR was part of SEAS Events 2004. It took place in Klaipeda (Lithuania), Kaliningrad/Svetlogorsk (Russsia), Riga/Liepaja (Latvia) and Gdansk (Poland) in july-september.
In 2005 Mekanika Popular will be part of SEAS Second Wave and will take place in Rijeka (Croatia), Stockholm (Sweden), Podgorica (Montenegro), Udine/Trieste (Italy), and Helsinki (Finland).
Skart are the creators of the SEAS logo. The SEAS Box is also their piece of art. It is an archive of the first phase of the project SEAS, compiled in an easy to present package. The SEAS Box contains curious objects and ingenious design. It is constantly enriched with new additions as the project SEAS evolves.
*Silver medal - World Exhibition of Intentions : Eureka Brussels 1993
*Treinnal of Theatre Posters, Novi Sad 1998 - First prize
* YUSTAT Special Award for the Theatre Arts
1995 & 1998
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
(19 January 05 - 19 January 07)
(26 April 04 - 26 September 04)
(01 December 01 - 30 September 05)
(01 October 99 - 31 December 00)
In Motion magazine
Article on Skart project Sadness
Hotel Europa project