October 2022. at 7 pm
ALEKSANDAR DAVIĆ – THE LAST DADA PERFORMANCE
Place: Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina
Opening of the exhibition: Friday, 14.10. at 7 p.m
Duration of the exhibition: 14.10–13.11.2022.
Curator: Gordana Nikolić, senior curator MSUV
Exhibition design: Darko Vuković
Production: Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina, Academy of Arts – Novi Sad
Patron: Provincial Secretariat for Culture, Public Information and Relations with Religious Communities
Support: Ministry of Culture and Information, Republic of Serbia
Aleksandar Davić (1961–2020) was a Professor of film and theatrical direction at the Academy of Arts of the University of Novi Sad and a Professor of digital video at the Interdisciplinary studies of the University of Arts in Belgrade. He graduated from the Department of Intermedia Direction (film, TV, theatre, radio) of the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad.
The first retrospective exhibition Aleksandar Davić – The Last Dada Performance presents the very diverse, in terms of genre, film and video production of Aleksandar Davić in the context of contemporary visual art and the socio-political circumstances that marked, in a paradigmatic fashion, his engaged approach to his works and his selection of socially sensitive topics. This exhibition accents Davić’s most important artistic and didactic-pedagogical activities that, among other things, rely on avant-garde traditions, introduce experimental procedures and technological innovations in the pondering and production of moving pictures and sounds.
Aleksandar Davić, Dead people travel, documentary film (prod. UrbaNS, 2001)
International avant-garde movements are a resource of knowledge and inspiration for most of Aleksandar Davić’s films and video works, from avant-garde visual language to left-wing political ideologies and anarchism opposed to bourgeois aestheticism and tradition. The anthology production The Last Dada Performance directed by Davić (1992) represents a timeless tribute and reactualization of the ideas of the international Dada movement of particular importance in the context of the dominant right-wing political tendencies of the last decade of the 20th century. Video The Last Dada Performance was exhibited in museums as part of the selection of the most important works of art from the 1990s (MSUV, MSUB). Aleksandar Davić’s latest work, the 6-episode documentary series Our historical avant-garde produced by Roremachine (2020), deals with the history of avant-garde artistic movements in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes/Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the period between the two world wars, Dadaism, Surrealism and Zenitism.
Aleksandar Davić began his pedagogical practice in formal terms in 1992 at the Department of Drama of the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, where some of his former collaborators and students today constitute the teaching staff at the Department of Dramatic Arts: Siniša Bokan, producer and editor of several films directed by Davić; Jovan Milinov-Toba, director of photography; the directors Szabolcs Tolnai, Miloš Pušić and others. As a pedagogue, Davić aimed for self-education and informal distribution, as well as exchange of knowledge, which he integrated in his work with students. He helped his students and participated in the production of their films (for example, he worked on the editing of the film Nyári Mozi, directed by Szabolcs Tolnai); together with Tolnai and nenad Milošević he realised a documentary film about the students’ protest of 1997 Putting Our Best Foot Forward. Together with his students and other filmmakers, first of all those belonging to a younger generation, he participated in the re-establishment of the independent film centre Cinema Club Novi Sad (2001), which provided a stimulus of exceptional importance for authorial and independent films in Novi Sad and Vojvodina. As a passionate researcher and connoisseur of film, he dealt with the re-historisation of the film and video art of the 20th century on the territory of Vojvodina within the framework of the co-authorial project/exhibition Technology to the People! Film and Video in Vojvodina (with Gordana Nikolić), which presented more than a hundred films and video works from the corpus of professional, independent and amateur production, held at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina (2013).
Davić realised his early documentary films while working for Television Novi Sad as a collaborator within the framework of its cultural-artistic and documentary programme, starting from the mid-1980’s, through a characteristic portraying of artists, protagonists of the Vojvodinian neo-avant-garde and post-avant-garde art scene, Laszlo Kerekes (Kerekes Film, 1985) and Miroslav Mandić (Punishment and Freedom, 1991), the war hero Kosta Nađ, an officer of international brigades who fought in the Spanish Civil War (My Spain, 1991) as well as presentations of socially marginalised topics, as was the case with the film Clients (1987), dealing with an institution for mentally disabled children and young people in Veternik. His film Dunafalvi March (1990), dedicated to the tragic hero, a Hungarian police Sergeant who, saved the Serb population of the village of Kovilj from a Hungarian army raid in 1942, was made under the aegis of the Terra Film production house. The documentary films of Aleksandar Davić were created at the time of or immediately after the Yugoslav wars of the 1990’s, recording resistance to the regime through personal social engagement and active participation in the shaping of that resistance through the politics of moving pictures. The films Putting Our Best Foot Forward (made in cooperation with Szabolcs Tolnai and Nenad Milošević, produced by B92, 1996) and Under the Authority of the Police (produced by UrbaNS, 2001) depict the political repression that members of the Otpor [Resistance] movement were subjected to. Of particular importance is Davić’s documentary film The Travelling of the Dead (produced by UrbaNS, 2001), as the first film in Serbia to deal with the controversial topic of refrigerated trucks used for the purpose of hiding the corpses of Albanian civilians.
The domains of video art and video installations enabled Aleksandar Davić to gain affirmation outside the traditional film format as an author of note on the scene of contemporary art (galleries, museums, media festivals). The directorial concept and editing of his videos are dominated by unusual and rhythmic audio-visual juxtapositions inspired by the aesthetics of Dziga Vertov’s films, as well as by (post-)avant-garde and experimental film/video. The video work Good evening (1996) by the association Apsolutno and Aleksandar Davić, in addition to a critique of the social role of the media, is also one of the pioneering examples of the use of non-linear/computer montage in video art practices in our country. He realized most of his video works in cooperation with the association Apsolutno and the FIA group, while the symbolic work of the 1990s is Eyewitness (1996), an author’s work in the genre of video installation, for which, among other things, he won the Golden Award of Belgrade for the best experimental video at the Yugoslav Short Film Festival and documentary film/video Belgrade.
He gained his early experience of working in the feature film form as an assistant director on the filming of the movie Gorilla Bathes at Noon (dir. Dušan Makavejev, 1993). His feature film The Party (prod. Arbos, 2004), which is set in the days of the beginning of the war in 1991, is a director’s work in the format of a classic film narrative. The film was screened at several film festivals in Europe and was awarded for the best screenplay at the Film Screenplay Festival in Vrnjačka banja in 2005. After that, Davić realized three more short feature films in his production: NS Roulette (2012), Playground (2014) and Golden Boy (2015).