Ilija Šoškić - Action Forms
Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade; Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Serbia
12. October 2018 - 24. December 2018


curators: PhD. Zoran Erić, MoCAB and Nebojša Milenković, MoCAV

The exhibition Action Forms is the first retrospective of Ilija Šoškić to be held in the entire post-Yugoslav cultural space. Also, it is the first exhibition to be jointly organised by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade and the Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, and is to run in Belgrade and Novi Sad at the same time. The curators Zoran Erić and Nebojša Milenković conceived and adapted the idea for the exhibition to the particular spaces of both museums.  

In the Novi Sad segment of the exhibition the focus is put on works involving the body, Šoškić’s ideologically loaded actions in the public sphere. It deals with the early performances, actions and tableau vivants which the artist carried out in the first half of the seventies in Italy, but also during his frequent appearances at the Students’ Cultural Centre in Belgrade. Particularly accentuated are the activities which ultimately lead to the embodiment of the well-known avantgarde principle by which the artist himself becomes his own artwork. This stage culminates in the most radical and certainly most famous of Šoškić’s works Maximum Energy – Minimum Time (1975), in the performative gesture involving the firing of a revolver into the wall of the gallery L’Attico, which represented at that time the global epicentre of the avantgarde. The antithesis to this act is the artist’s many-year withdrawal from art and utter commitment to motorcyclism, which also embodies one of the key philosophical principles of Šoškić’s art and life: the principle of uninterrupted movement and nomadism. 

In the Belgrade part of the exhibition emphasis is put on the conceptual series SATOR, Traphos, Parallels, as well as the individual works of elementary but also complex geometric forms. These works are the product of Šoškić’s interest in mathematical axioms and problems, as well as the philosophical postulates to whose research he dedicated himself during the eighties. Moving between mathematics, philosophy and mythology, Šoškić contemplates in a specific way man’s relation to nature, which also becomes a thread running through a series of works (Mourning and Drought, Zygote, Square Circle, etc.). Holding back from art as “a great narrative”, Šoškić finds in this creative period “small niches” in which to formulate different artistic positions, so that the experience gained from the tableau vivants and the performances starts to be inscribed spatially and in ambient in the installations which remain as artefacts after the artistic actions. The conceptual layout of these works adheres to the process of artistic deliberation ─ starting from sketches, points of embarkation for works with textual artistic expositions, through photo documentation of actions and performances all the way to the realised objects and installations themselves.  

Through a dialogue between the two segments constituting the exhibition which itself isn’t chronologically ordered but rather follows the conceptual lines in the development of the artist’s work, the syntagm for the name of the exhibition Action Forms is extracted. The origin of this is Mario Diacono’s term “forms in action” from which is derived the polysemic formulation which at one possible plane of reading joins the two key words denoting the exhibition segments, in Novi Sad action, and in Belgrade form.