Emigrating Artist Creates Farewell Performance

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He was pulling a Mercedes on the main square of Osijek, where Ante Starčević’s statue is located. He stopped at the monument, turned to him and, since he did not receive an answer, pulled Mercedes to the other side of the square. That was a farewell performance, title “My dad is the best in the world”, by multimedia artist Siniša Labrović recently in the center of Osijek, reports Večernji List on November 23, 2018.

“I asked him why he is alone and where are his children, do they call him from Dublin and Munich, do they send money, why he is silent, I asked him whether he felt shameful or guilty. I know he was against monuments and public honors. I asked him what I should tell his children if I met them around the world. ‘The Father of the Nation’ remained silent, stiff, alone and important. The performance did not look at the real character and work of Ante Starčević, who deserves respect, but at his monument in a society which he would consider a betrayal of ideals for which he once fought,” explained Labrović.

Labrović recently left Croatia and moved to Berlin, like so many other Croatians, young and old. The reasons are private and professional. “As a professor of Croatian language, I have not been able to get a permanent job in a school for ten years, after I was told by the Church that I would never get a job since in 2000 I restored a damaged monument to the partisans in Sinj. Also, earlier this year, I received an offer from the Museum of Modern Art in Zagreb, which is officially our main contemporary art institution, that I could create a performance for 500 kuna gross, both the fee and the production costs. Also, the few institutions that remained ‘normal’ are slowly being occupied by clerofascists. So we finally had to hear the message they have been whispering to us all the time – go to hell,” he explained

He moved to Berlin only recently, so he still does not know how the German culture will react to his performances. For now, he says, he is “a foreign worker in Croatia which is a thousand-year-old European country.” In November, he took part in two exhibitions in Rijeka, and he has several other projects planned.

Asked if he would be more appreciated in the homeland now that he is living abroad, he said he was not sure. “My plans are vast, but the future is opaque, so we will see. As for the appreciation in the homeland, it is likely that nothing will change.” He does expect that he will live better in Germany, given that many people are moving there and few are returning. “What the statistics mean for me, I will find out. Maybe I will be an exception,” he added.

Siniša Labrović was in the focus of the media this May when he started collecting signatures for a referendum that would ban the persecution of pedophile priests. Of course, it was just another of his performances, but surprisingly there were people who thought he was serious and who even signed the petition, claiming that priests should never be prosecuted, even if they are pedophiles.

For more on art in Croatia, click here.


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