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‘No one is even raising the question of what with the destroyed nine years of artwork. No one is responsible for that.’ – Interview with Goran Rajšić from the Serbian underground cartoon group Momci

28 October 2020
Image: Members of the underground cartoon group Momci, before their exhibition / Courtesy of Goran Rajšić

 

On 13 October, after negative reactions towards the comic art exhibition Imali su oko sebe taj neki sjaj / They had that kind of glow around them created by the underground cartoon group Momciit was vandalised in the Belgrade Stara Kapetanija Galleryby 15 masked men, reported N1 Info 

Some of the artwork being part of the exhibition was shared on social media, and the attack came after negative reactionsincluding death threats towards the group membersto the exhibition’s contentA drawing called Kenjkavac, which shows a bloody baby with an axe in his head, was a primary subject of the critique.  

The attack happened while one security guard and one artist Anita Bunčić were at the gallery.  

Marco Somborac from Momci wrote on his Twitter account that the attack happened despite the threats reported to the police.   

The destroyed original artworks were the result of five artists working together for nine years and they now struggle to restore at least some of the destroyed works.  

Image: The exhibition after it was vandalised / Courtesy of Marco Somborac

 

This has been a retrospective of the work of our group from the 1990s. We existed in period 1993-2001, so we wanted to show our work to people who followed our work back then and maybe to some people who had not had chance to see it, but wanted to see how the underground strip looked like back then,” Goran Rajšić from Momci told Freemuse 

We did it now on the invitation of the festival Novo Doba (New Age). We did it for ourselves without any huge expectations. It was a nostalgic reason behind this exhibition. 

According to Danas, on 15 October six suspects for this attack were arrested, and the next day two people pleaded guilty. They were sentenced to three-month suspended sentence, with a probation period of one year.  

I find it as a warning sign, not appropriate sanction for the deed they committed. But we know that the attack itself was organised by someone from outside. Boys who attacked the exhibition show no emotional reaction when they entered the gallery,” Rajšić commented the sentencing and further added that “we believe that someone ordered it, but do not expect to find out who that wasThis was not an angry mob. They did not even touch the illustration that caused a problem in public [Kenjkavac] 

Serbian Ministry of Culture published a press release about the events from 13 October condemning violations of artistic freedom, but they highlighted that showing and affirming disgusting and immoral content, wrapped in a cloak of alleged artistic creativity, rightly provokes negative reactions from the majority of the public. 

“They were not even able to fake that they do not support the attack on the exhibition,” Rajšić commented the Ministry of Culture’s press release. 

“They openly stand on the side of hooligans. That was the end of the discussion about protection here in Serbia.”  

When asked about obstacles for artistic freedom in Serbia, Rajšić focuses on traditional authorities and climate of fear by saying: “we do not tolerate anything that is not traditional for our society, and what contradicts what our authorities imagine how Serbia should look like. Everyone who is not in line with that should be silenced. It serves to cause fear with those who want to oppose the authorities. 

As discovered by Freemuse, one of the key issues within artistic freedom in Serbia is the majority of violations that are carried out by government-financed bodies. 

On 22 October, Freemuse addressed the letter to Serbian authorities on the attack on art exhibition Imali su oko sebe taj neki sjaj. 

 

Home / News / ‘No one is even raising the question of what with the destroyed nine years of artwork. No one is responsible for that.’ – Interview with Goran Rajšić from the Serbian underground cartoon group Momci

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