In addition to works of art categorized into collections, the depots of the Museum of Contemporary Art also store objects, notes, artist statements, photographs, various evidence and testimonies, resources for understanding and reading art from the time of the historical avant-garde movements to the present day. These materials arrived as part of legacies and gifts presented to the Museum by artists or members of their families. Along with the works of art, archival materials and personal items are valuable for research and acquisition of new knowledge, interpretation of messages and narratives.

The exhibition, named after a quote found among Leonid Šejka’s notes, Things Vibrant – Things Dignified, is a series of stories about artists’ attempts to provoke changes in society, about their protest that would lead to a world finally suitable for life – un monde enfin habitable (André Breton). These aspirations can also be called utopian and can be read in works of art. However, this time, the central role is taken over by objects and materials that are not part of the museum’s collections but are kept as documentary material. The exhibited everyday objects, used or created in the course of work on artistic experiments and in research processes, are exhibited along with works of art to broaden the angle of reviewing their role in the context of artistic creation and social engagement of artists.

This omnibus of a kind consists of a series of separate stories whose heroes sometimes meet, their paths cross, sometimes they influence each other, but that’s not always necessary. Some stories are parallel in space and time, while others establish their own continuums. All the stories are connected by one common thread – objecthood, the relationship towards the object, the subject-object relation.

Personal objects and items of artists active in period of historical avant-garde (Vane Bor, Milan Dedinac, Rastko Petrović, Marko Ristić) tell these stories, so does objects and items of artist of later period in the 1960s and 1970s (Leonid Šejka, Ivan Tabaković, Milica Zorić Čolaković, Miroljub Todorović). The stories depict paradigm shifts in art, which changed the truths about this world and society. The ant-garde movements opposed the modernist model of perceiving art in relation to real life while introducing new approaches in which art and life were equated.

In their efforts to liberate art and bring it closer to life, avant-garde artists advocated abandoning the modernist emphasis on aesthetics and sought to replace it with social relations. They promoted a semantic paradigm shift in the sense of changing the focus from the aesthetic dimension to the social content and context in which the work of art is created. The artist was engaged in social events, asked questions, and protested loudly, rejecting the persona of a genius and reexamining both his position in the broader social context and the position of art. Art was seen as a means of acting outside the arts field. In the early twentieth century, in an effort to bring life to art, artists introduced objects from everyday culture into their works. Thus, their favorite ways of expression were collages, assemblages, photo-montages, Surrealist automatic texts, readymade, and behavioral art, all with the idea of creating a new kind of art that would be closer to modern man and his sensibility.

The exhibition Things Vibrant – Things Dignified reconsiders the significance of objects and personal stories in the context of art and the importance of legacies and individual gifts to museums. The exhibits were obtained by the Museum thanks to donations, and they belong to the legacies of Milica Zorić and Rodoljub Čolaković, Ana Čolak Antić, Vane Živadinović Bor, Milan Dedinac and Radmila Bunuševac Dedinac, Ratislava Tabaković, Miroljub Todorović, as well as gifts from Jelena Jovanović and Draga Panić.

Curators Senka Ristivojević and Miroslav Karić


Photo: Bojana Janjić, MSUB