An introduction to the past - Boris Buden and Želimir Žilnik

An introduction to the past  - Boris Buden and Želimir Žilnik

"This is not a book about the past. It is an introduction to a problem called the past."

Book title: An introduction to the past
The book was realized by: Boris Buden, who wrote the essays and
conducted a conversation with Ž. Žilnik
Želimir Žilnik, answered B. Buden's questions, verbally and in writing format, book initiators - edited, redacted, and coordinated
Žiga Testen, graphic designer - gave the final form of the book

From the preface:

“... This is a book that appears to be concerned with a particular segment of the past, something that used to be called cultural history. Yet it does not treat cultural history as a discrete discipline of historiography that takes for its subject something that had acquired the status of a cultural good in the past. For this book, cultural history is the very form in which the past appears to us today. To the degree that we are conscious of the past, we are conscious of it as culture. Specifically, when this book discusses the cultural production of former Yugoslavia, the films or the so-called “cinematic idiom” of the director Želimir Žilnik; when it discusses conflicts within the culture and among actors in those conflicts; the relationship between politics and art; the economic conditions of film production and its social effects; it does not set these discussions within the disciplinary frameworks of fields such as history of Yugoslav cinema, or the coherent oeuvre of a particular director, so that concepts such as society, politics and the economy could serve to contextualize a narrative that was itself concerned only with culture. Culture does not happen in a preordained economic, political or social context; it is of itself an economic fact, a political factor, and a social product. It does not tell us about how the past really was, but is that past in its presence, currency, uncertainty, openness. It is the past on the other side of its difference from the present and the future...” “...And that is precisely one of the primary goals of this book: to give resistance to authoritarian canonization as a god-given right of institutionalized cultural practice; to sabotage the national heritage project; to point to its inherent contradictions, falsifications and manipulations of cultural and social values, to its ideological functions and political abuses. It is not just the cinematic work of Želimir Žilnik but precisely its social, political, and moral dimensions that themselves defy all attempts at canonization, especially that undertaken by a national culture...”

“... This book was not written in a pre-set, fully apposite and finalized idiom, whose words and grammar are applied to the subject, the way it is done, say, in the language of film criticism, the language of cultural theory, the language of political science, the language of this or that faith, worldview, or culture with its specific conceptions, phraseology, fixed meanings, stable and steady references. The language of this book does not arise from either monolingual or homolingual ideology...”

Project and the Book "Introduction to the Past" is a part of the research project by and associates through which the analysis of the social, cultural, and intellectual heritage of the former Yugoslavia, Vojvodina and Novi Sad is carried out through the projects "The Continuous Art Class", "Media Ontology" and "Political practices (post-) Yugoslavian art"( These projects provide a new reading of the progressive practices of the Neo-Avangard today and open a new way of communication between these practices and contemporary art production. The publication was published within the project "Individual Utopia Now and Then - Discontinuity of Generation Dialogue or what do we have in common?".

This project was supported by the Swiss Cultural Program in the Western Balkans. The publication was additionally supported by the Secretariat for Culture and Public Information of the Province of Vojvodina.

The book "Introduction to the Past" is published in editorial, which is devoted to exploring a critical approach to new media, politics, new relationships in culture and art theory and practice.
The book can be downloaded free of charge in pdf. format via the link at the bottom of this page.


Publisher: Center for New, Novi Sad
ISBN 978-86-88567-07-7
COBISS.SR-ID 279588871
Year: 2013.
224 pages
Transcription and proofreading: & Group for Conceptual Politics
Print House: Daniel print, Novi Sad
print run: 500 copies