- 18. Art Biennial Pančevo, Svetosavski Dom, Pančevo, Serbia, May 26th, 2018

New Media

Site-specific installation Absolutely Dead, 2018.

Based on the video work Absolutely Dead from 1995, produced by

Art Association Apsolutno and Aleksandar Davić, PAL/colour, 7 min


Place and time of enactment:

Svetosavski Dom, Pančevo, May 26th, 2018.


18. Art Biennial Pančevo

Agents of Space

The Gallery of Contemporary Art Pančevo
May 26
th June 17th, 2018

Concept: Dragan Jelenković

Curator: Andrej Mirčev


Absolutely Dead

On September 21st, 1995, a performative action by members of Art Association Apsolutno took place in a shipyard in Novi Sad, between the 1,258th and 1,259th kilometer of the Danube. It has detected the „death of two transoceanic liners under suspicious circumstances“, leaving the crime scene marked by yellow barrier tape printed with the words “Keep off! Absolutely dead”. The action was carried out with no audience present, solely for the camera, and it was displayed since in a video and photo format. It’s goal was to expose the arrested state in which these two half-built metal giants (105 meters long and 16.2 meters wide, with cargo capacity of 5,700 tons each) were found, left to ruin. That went in a twofold manner. The state in which they were found was shown as an absolute fact in the experience of the artists performing for the camera the action of investigating them in order to proclaim them being dead, but also as the symptom of the specific local and regional economic and political developments.

On May 26th, 2018, a video featuring the 1995 action is installed in the space which was found to be mortified under similar suspicious circumstances. By a process of repetition (reenactment) that space is segregated and the public access to it limited. The audience is allowed to penetrate into the space just up to a certain level. All they can see of the space is limited to what is illuminated by the light the projector, and it is contextualized by the content of the video. Instead of getting revitalized by temporary hosting an artistic project which was produced to function as a social remedy, the space in which this work is installed gets to be experienced as dead, in analogy with the two dead ships from two decades ago. When activating the “spatial atmosphere and the materiality of the concrete place”, in accordance “with one of the conceptual parameters of the biennial”, the performative effect of this installation is not to convey aesthetic qualities, but to generate critical responses from the viewers.

This installment of the Absolutely Dead video is authored by the New Media (whose members used to be members of the Art Association Apsolutno). It was carried out as an answer to the conceptual frame of this year’s Biennial and a procedure of reenactment was applied in its accomplishment, both in the formal and conceptual sense. The selection of the Absolutely Dead video work, as well as of the ways of its displaying emerged from the multi annual project by of analyzing the artistic production from the Novi Sad neo-avant-gardes, through the production in 1990’s up to this day. Responding to the Agents of Space thematic line on a quite specific and demanding location, with many contextual layers one has to take into account when questioning the physical and social character of that place, they have decided to refrain from desedimenting them, and do the exactly reverse - challenge the audience with a simple direct statement. That space is dead, absolutely dead, and it is a simple empirical fact. The video displayed in it stresses that fact even more. Its content elucidates the socio-spatial context in which it is installed in much clearer manner than any stream of data would do. It links one symbolic death to another, implying that the physical decay follows from the lack of their communal function, which cannot be regained by a single artistic gesture. It would take a long-term involvement with the local communities, and their actual needs.