25 01 07

PRELOM – Journal for Images and Politics, Belgrade

Branka Ćurčić

The journal “Prelom” was founded in 2001 as a publication of the Belgrade Center for Contemporary Art. Due to the word of their editorial team, in the past five years (seven issues in five volumes) “Prelom” has become a space for the critique of political constellations within social theory and political philosophy, of contemporary art and film in today's post-Yugoslav context. It is a collective effort to problematize, theorize and fight against various, heterogeneous and paradoxical forms of contemporary neo-liberal capitalism. In the summer of 2004, “Prelom” lost its former institutional support, with a decision to cancel all activities of Center for Contemporary Art, and its editorial board founded an independent organization – Prelom kolektiv, establishing itself as publisher and laying the foundations for integrating and expanding other activities beyond just the production of the “Prelom” journal (exhibitions, conferences, discussions, etc.).

Prelom (Break) is a periodical for images and politics. Usually, it has consisted of two permanent columns: "Ideology and it's Discontents" and "Reading the image". "Ideology and it's Discontents" column is born from the need to deal with basic structures defining the domain of cultural and political praxis. Filling the blanks in understanding of post-marxistic production of the former decade, this column examines the possibilities of establishing a new, radical and pluralistic emancipatory policy. "Reading the image" column is dedicated to the images, representations and displays. The emphasis is placed on the proper understanding of the importance and power of representation and, especially, it’s role in the formation of ideological and political constructs of society. This issue, first in the English language, but 8th in a row, has introduced as well some changes in the usual structure of the magazine. Since international audience didn't have opportunity to follow first 7 editions of the journal, some of the essays have been translated and introduced in the English language. This is only one of the reasons why the “international” edition of “Prelom” looks so reach with themes and directions of analysis. As I said, one of many other reasons why...

First section of the 8th edition of “Prelom” magazine is entitled “Against the post-socialist reason” and, due to the word of editorial team, it criticizes attitude of “dominant post-socialist 'rationality' which serves the purpose of rendering Socialism, the Communist movement and Marxism into something belonging defininitly to the past. Thereby making historical, revolutionary events nowdays appear as some kind of childish illusion, unrealistic daydreams which were solely enabled by the existence of the paternal figure of welfare state... that - by taking care of everyday needs of of its subjects – provided a leisure for rebellious ideas and actions.” Further, trying to detect and analyse what those rebellious events were, it seems that is the main stronghold of the whole discussion that has been carried out by this collective effort. It is a complex thesis that also recalls for “memory” of those rebellious events, and even more, for “the practical need for some tangible alternative to the contemporary capitalist system”, which still endures. It is a noble thought, in which continuation editorial word warns to danger zones in it: to constant possibility or threat of those kind of ideas becoming artifacts of consumption, which “enriched” by process of self-precarization and open market, leads directly to the “neutralization of any imaginable form of radical change.” This is not the only “beast” that Prelom kolektiv is fighting with. They have stood up loudly against the trap of “nostalgia” and “Yugo-nostalgia”, but are constantly trying to extract “the revolutionary historical effects of the SFRY project out of neo-liberal anti-Communist grip by re-thinking the (con-)sequence of events: the People's Liberation struggle – revolution – self-management Socialism.” It is a beast they are fighting, from one side, but this fight is, from the other side, subtle and necessary shading in analyses of events that forms “still present anachronisms in the post-Yugoslav space” – reactionary nationalism, religious revivals, re-traditionalization, liberal political and economic dogmas leading to brutality of privatization, i.e., to the present moment in Serbian society.

In the light of the above mentioned, edition of “Prelom” in English language opens up discussion about “Project Yugoslavia” from the “the dialectics of the revolution” point of view by Ozren Pupovac, who tried to examine specifity of politics of emancipation and its history of the Struggle for the Liberation of the Yugoslav Peoples, which comprises two important element: struggle against fascism/occupation and struggle against Yugoslav, monarchial national state. According to the author, this is just the beginning of the discussion, which, in some of the main characteristics of antifascism, inevitably includes emancipatory potential of social revolutions of the 19th and 20th century. This made major difference in dialectics of the Struggle for the Liberation of the Yugoslav Peoples, which was not only a struggle against occupation, but it was also aiming to the class struggle – to the social revolution. Decisive break with the bourgeois nation-State and with the practice of limited autonomy of the political apparatus inherited from the bourgeois political order from one side, and from the other, popular mobilization of “peoples” and their corresponding oranisational forms of direct democracy together with “national liberation” as liberty and political equality of all Yugoslav people, are the key points which mark important lesson that “political practice should necessarily be measured with regard to innovation, if it wants to bear the name of emancipation.”

In attempt to detect roots of current political suggestions and offers for “Kosovo solution”, Slobodan Karamanić, the author of the following essay “Kosovo after Yugoslavia” considers that what we have today at the “table” are nothing more then usual liberal-democratic practice of “the establishment of a legal and legitimate model of statehood”, which could not possibly provide democratic solution for everyone. “Kosovo crisis” coincides with “the beginning of the end of the universalism of project Yugoslavia”, because it also meant the end of all political alternatives to liberal democracy. The line of constitutions in former Yugoslavia, the one from 1974. (claiming considerable political, economic and cultural autonomy of Kosovo), the one from 1990. (Serbian constitution which denied that autonomy) and, I would even add the last one (Serbian constitution from 2006. which even more stresses territorial integrity of Serbia as its the most important purpose), is the one to play the most important roll. Juridical definition of egalitarian community and “the particularity of the historical and cultural characteristics of a nation have been leading to the “double coding of citizenship”; to the “purely self-referential competence to suspend the laws in order to re-establish the conditions of their effectiveness” (Balibar), of state's right for self-preservation. According to the author, this is rule of law and order of bourgeois politics, which is the very place of violation of law and personalized and arbitrary use of force. Therefore, one of the reasons of clash of the state violence in Kosovo in 1999 was “a politics of nationalistic particularism... More precisely, the price of negating particular historical and economic position of Kosovo resulted in that the class problem has been transformed and completed in the national. The juridically legitimated repression of the population of Kosovo was nothing but a form of class exploitation and of an internal exclusion of impoverished masses.”

Kosovo and Albanian people at Kosovo are also the theme of written discussion, a polemic between Sezgin Boynik and Boris Buden, which is integrally represented in English edition of “Prelom”, continuing with the practice of preserving the open space for discussions, reactions and interventions. Above all, for self-critical reflection and self-criticism...

Further consideration of post-Yugoslav space is through motif of “social amnesia” and conformist intellectuals in the essay “Against post-Yugoslav Liberal Conformism” by Nebojša Jovanović. His interesting stand-point is built at the example of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian intellectual scene and on the example of “Status” (magazine for political culture and social questions), which in general, introduces the main characteristics of neoliberal universe. In author's words, critical analysis is replaced by deconstruction, politics by culture, the Marxist heritage of dialectical materialism by a surplus of common sense, and Yugoslavia as a political challenge by a sure but corrupted goal, a sitting duck that you can not miss: independent (mono)national state.

In the similar sound as the previous, the following chapter is dedicated to the international conference entitled “Is It Possible to be a Marxist in Philosophy?”, which was organized by Prelom and which took place in Belgrade's Center for Cultural Decontamination, on December 29th 2004, on occasion of which magazine “Historical Materialism” (School for Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK) was also presented. According to Prelom's web site information, the conference represented yet another in a series of attempts of shifting of intellectual focus in rethinking of historical heritage of that tradition in 20th century thinking, labeled by some authors, by synthetic term of Western Marxism. More specifically, this conference treated a specific branch within Marxist thought, not dealing directly with economic analyses of capitalism or political study of bourgeoisie state, those concrete problems that occupied the attention of the classics of Marxism and pointed out the main directions of historical development of Marxist theory in the greater part of 20th century. This is an attempt of problematization of a specific cognitive-theoretic approach, in which historical heritage of classical Marxism, its chief thematic preoccupation and analytic tools would be built upon by introducing of a philosophical problematic, in a narrower sense.

The “Art” part of the journal is dominated by the theme of institutional critique and the institution of critique, from one side, and from the other, by one personality, one artists (who doesn't consider self to be the artist, but rather doorman, a technician, etc.), Goran Đorđević and by the attempt to re-actualize his work today. He took part in Belgrade's conceptual art scene of the 1970's with clear leftist political charge and radical art practices, which actually made him leave this scene and made him start with individual concepts of examining and rethinking authorship, professionalism, criticizing neo-liberal transformation of the art-market, embracing amateur creative tactics,, etc. All this led him to start producing a copy of famous (mostly) paintings, whit further influenced at him to start with development of very complex processes and analysis of motives and models of creation of history of modern art that we know today. Some of his projects are “Salon de Fleur” in New York, “Museum of American Art” in Berlin and “Kunsthistorishe Mausoleum” in Belgrade, as carefully arranged misanscenes for performative critique of construction of artistic memory.


It seems almost impossible to grasp all the aspects of all discussions taking place inside of “Prelom” magazine covers: cultural hegemony; political autonomy; institutional critique; the institution of critique; creation of one own political space; on the class character of art; and much much more then presented in this essay. In order to give you, the reader of this report, just a hint of magazine's complexity, I will leave you with Prelom kolektive equally interesting web site ( where all issues including the last one could be freely downloaded from, and with the full content list of the last, 8th issue of the magazine published in the English language only.

Content, 8th edition of Prelom


Ozren Pupovac, Project Yugoslavia: the Dialectics of the Revolution

Slobodan Karamanić, Kosovo after Yugoslavia

On the Margins of Europe, an interview with Rastko Močnik

Vladimir Marković, Conservative Upheaval and Capitalist Utopia: Aftermath of the Resistence

Nebojša Jovanović, Against Post-Yugoslav Liberal Conformism


Sezgin Boynik, Boris Buden’s Silent Albanians Politics as Nondiscursivity

Boris Buden, From Stari Trg to Stari Aerodrom and Back: Answer to Sezgin Boynik

Vladimir Marković, Dissident Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism


Nina Power, The Terror of Collectivity: Sartre’s Theory of Political Groups

Jason Barker, Nothing Personal: From the State to the Master

Ozren Pupovac, Springtime for Hegemony: Laclau and Mouffe with Janez Janša

Tim Appleton, Alain Badiou and the Possibility of a Political Writing: The Case of the Labor New Left in Britain

Alberto Toscano, Marxism Expatriated

Alain Badiou, The Factory as Event Site: Why Should the Worker Be a Refernce in Our Vision of Politics?

Georges Peyrol (a.k.a. Alain Badiou), Thirty Ways of Easily Recognising an Old-Marxist

After the Event: Rationality and the Politics of Invention, an interview with Alain

Badiou by Radical Politics


Branimir Stojanović, State and Contemporary Art


Transversalism and Institutional Critique, an interview with Gerald Rauning

Simon Sheikh, Notes on Institutional Critique

Hito Steyerl, The Institution of Critique

Hito Steyerl, The Archive of Lost Objects


Goran Đorđević, On the Class Character of Art

Branislav Dimitrijević, Altered Identities: Goran Đorđević as an Artist, SKC as an Institution

Story on Copy, an interview with Goran Đorđević


Nenad Racković Johnny Rackowitzch

Vesna Mandzoski, No Change, Please, We are Post-Students: The Anaesthetization of Art and Society


What’s Wrong With a Cowboy in Belgrade, conversation with Wim Wenders by Dragana Kitanović

Dragana Kitanović, Rethinkig (Film) History Through Cinemas of Wim Wenders

Pavle Levi, “Inevitable Wars”: On Film Form and Inter-Ethnic Relations in Post-Yugoslav Cinema

Pavle Levi, Film Metter

Branka Ćurčić