The Centre for Visual Culture at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade was established already in the mid-1970s out of the museum’s educational department. At that time, the Centre’s programmes were guided by the methodology of permanent education and grounded in an ideological conviction regarding the social role of the arts.
The main aim of the Centre was “education through art”, and its activities comprised of a series of public seminars and lectures, held both inside the Museum and also in cooperation with schools, faculties, factories and public companies, with the goal to reach broadest public.
Today, the profile and the role of the Centre had to be adjusted to the actual socio-political situation, but also to recent developments in art practices. The new strategy of the Centre was intended to continue local as well as international cooperation with educational institutions and professionals of various profiles and to create a platform for all of the contributors: an open laboratory where they could discuss issues surrounding contemporary art and its social function in relation to the contemporary art system and socio-political context that frames it.
The Centre is thus oriented towards both research on annually or biennially suggested topics developed and profiled by the engaged team, and towards education through public presentations and talks by team members and guest experts of the program. Above all, the idea of this working methodology was to create a melting pot for individual or group production, wherein research or artistic projects would critically address the issues suggested with the general topic of the Centre.
History of the Centre for Visual Culture
The activities of the Centre comprised six different platforms
1. Research in the field of visual culture and museum education. Through investigation of issues pertaining to visual culture, the Centre offered the possibility of education by means of the relational sequence seen-linked-marked-comprehended. The results of investigations were presented by way of lectures establishing mutual relations between various facts from the realm of fine arts and the visible world.
2. Seminars in the Museum
The Centre organised three parallel courses per year:
The first course, entitled An Introduction to Visual Culture, was led by Kosta Bogdanović.
The second course was meant to deal with new phenomena in art, and was led by Jadranka Vinterhalter.
The third course involved presentation of films, analyses of film and video art, as well as presentations of artists, and was led by Jasna Tijardović.
The Centre also organised short retrospectives of video works by Yugoslav artists such as Marina Abramović, Sanja Iveković, Dalibor Martinis, Goran Trbuljak, etc.
3. Public guided tours through exhibitions and the permanent display of the Museum collection
The Centre regularly informed schools and faculties from Belgrade and the countryside, by means of circular letters and brief guides, about the exhibitions organised by the Museum and other activities of the Museum.
In the course of guided tours through the Museum’s permanent display or the current exhibition, conducted by experts, attention was paid to the methodology applied, that is, care was taken that the approach and the interpretations should be adjusted to a particular group of visitors, e.g. pupils.
4. Cooperation with schools and faculties
From 1975 onward, cooperation was maintained with the Department of Art History of the Faculty of Philosophy of Belgrade University. Every year, a two-week practice course on museology and preservation of cultural monuments was organised for students of art history.
5. The Museum’s faculty department
The Museum’s faculty department meant lectures delivered by renowned Yugoslav and world experts in the sphere of art theory and history. The department comprised three cycles of lectures:
- the first one was dedicated to the problem of relations between art and society, and was aimed at art historians, critics and a small circle of connoisseurs of contemporary art,
- the second cycle dealt with the history of Yugoslav art since the year 1900, and was aimed at pupils and students,
- the third popular cycle, dealing with the theme of “Approach to Contemporary Art”, was aimed at the broadest circle of art lovers, especially the young.
The lecturers at the Museum’s faculty department, among others, included Ljuba Gligorijević, Tomaž Brejc, Jure Mikuž, Želimir Koščević, Boris Podreka, Marko Pogačnik, Max Imdahl, George Maciunas and Art & Language.
6. Cooperation with other institutions such as factories and public companies
In the course of the 1970’s, this form of cooperation was pursued in a very active manner, by organising thematic exhibitions in public companies, factories and work organisations.
Projects of the Centre for Visual Culture
Belgrade: Another Gaze
From Dionysian Socialism to Predatory Capitalism
Differentiated Neighbourhoods of New Belgrade