THE BARRÈS AFFAIR – public reading of a transcript of Dadaist trial


Bojan Djordjev in collaboration with Tanja Šljivar (dramaturge) and Siniša Ilić (visual artist); Dragana Jovović (producer), Marko Grabež (performer), Jelena Ilić (performer) and Milica Stefanović (performer)

performance: 2016

The public reading of a transcript of dadaist trial to Maurice Barrès from 1921. as its central fokus takes Dadaist/artistic argumentation in confrontation with nationalism in the wake of fascism, and possible layers of meaning it retrospectively receives from contemporary perspective.

commisioned by 28th Nadežda Petrović Memorial – “Before the Court”, Čačak, Serbia

curators: Simona Ognjanović and Stevan Vuković



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Before the Court exhibition presents art projects which have as a topic or use in their performance some of the procedures characteristic of judicial practice, with some exceptions where the phrase ”bringing before the court“ is used synecdochally. The court proceedings taking place in some of the presented works focus more on judgment, assessment, and evaluation than on a court trial in its narrowest sense. As a result of these proceedings, the object of judgment acquires an institutionally legitimate status, and the judgment thus received may be considered normative. In the cast of characters in this exhibition artists may appear as forensic technicians, investigators, witnesses, defendants, and prosecutors, or as a special kind of whistleblowers who bring before a public court the problems of artistic production in the current context of economic and symbolical exchange. And thus included in this exhibition we can find works dominated by the agonism of the courtroom, where the judicial arena into which participants in these projects are thrown can represent the arena of art, and even our entire society in the era of total domination of neoliberal capitalism. However, alongside these are works where the audiences can see the mechanism of committee decision-making in action, where decisions are taken on the most representative form of artwork at the particular moment and in particular context, and where the audience can decide on their own on who is “the greatest Serbian artist”, by awarding this status with a simple majority of their votes.
Works in the category  Investigation and Trial, take over and rework samples from both imaginary concepts of investigation and court process and actual spaces where these take place. They use: long panning shots of the court and jury in a trial scene, or the actual space where an historic trial took place, or some elements of forensic procedure. These samples are then recontextualized and assigned new meanings to be activated in questioning the manners in which these investigative and court proceedings legitimize, create, or reproduce relations in the current social reality. Normativity Conflicts is a category in the framework of which artists question the statuses and positions in the art field, and the principles of their legitimization and delegitimization which is used as a case study to question social statuses. Introducing elements of the investigation and court proceedings has a primarily dramatic role here, and presented works pose the problem of conditions and limits of validity of these norms, conflicts in their application and legality and legitimacy of their violation, negation, or bringing into question. The next category of works does that through explicit transgressions of customary, moral, or legal rules. Theft and damaging of works of art, instigation to commit criminal acts of buying votes, disrespecting the flag and the coat of arms of SFRY, all these were used as legal qualifications in charges against the authors of works in the segment entitled Artist in Conflict With the Law, who had to face criminal charges. Finally, initiatives and projects in the segment called Law in Conflict With the Concept of Justice aim to criticize legal rules and regulations that directly or indirectly enable discrimination against people on the basis of their country of origin and social status, and their exploitation based on their position in the labor market