Casual Passer-by Collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb
The Casual Passer-By Collection by the Bosnian-Herzegovinian conceptual artist Braco Dimitrijević consists of eight photographs and two posters (portraits) created in Zagreb and Belgrade in 1971. The photographs and posters (portraits) were the foundation of his three performances from the "Casual Passer-by" series staged in Yugoslavia. They were subversive performances in which the author hung portraits of chance passers-by in public spaces, otherwise intended for executives, in this way questioning established forms of communication in the public space of a socialist state.
Zagreb Avenija Dubrovnik 17, Croatia 10000
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Name of collection
Casual Passer-by Collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb
Provenance and cultural activities
The Casual Passer-by Collection by conceptual artist Braco Dimitrijević in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb consists of seven photographs and one poster (portrait) that were the foundation of the performance and they testify to the performances presented by the author in Zagreb in 1971. The performance was done in Belgrade in the same year, and one photograph and one poster (portrait) from this performance are held in the Daniel Marzona Gallery in Berlin. The Collection in the Museum of Contemporary Art was established in 1978 when the Museum purchased the first five photographs that testify to the performance held on Republic Square (today's Ban Jelačić Square). The remaining two photographs and a poster (portrait) from the performance on Marshal Tito Square (today's Republic of Croatia Square), now part of the Museum’s permanent display, were purchased in 2000. The items from this collection were used in retrospective exhibitions by Braco Dimitrijević and in the accompanying exhibition catalogues.
Due to the concept underlying the COURAGE project, the performances held in Yugoslavia in 1971 were taken as the basis of the Casual Passer-by Collection. They are the beginning of the "Casual Passer-by" cycle and also the most famous performances from this cycle held in socialist Yugoslavia. The artist continued the cycle in many European cities, and the cycle is still ongoing. As Braco Dimitrijević explained, "The ’Casual Passer-by’ emerged as a kind of youthful rebellion against the cult of personality and against the automatized observation of the environment and the sort of cultural landscape in which we live " (Turkovic 2004: 23).
Three performances were held in Yugoslavia, two in Zagreb and one in Belgrade. The artist hung a poster (portrait) of three random passers-by (an elderly man, an older and a younger woman) on Republic Square in Zagreb in 1971. His other performance was also held in Zagreb, on Marshal Tito Square, where the artist hung a poster (portrait) of a middle-aged man. The third performance was in Belgrade, where the poster (portrait) of an older man was hung on the Jugoexport building. All three performances provoked confusion among passers-by, and the reason for it, according to Tihomir Milovac, was the clever way in which the author played with established patterns of action in socialist Yugoslavia. According to Milovac, “he selected completely anonymous people, random passers-by on the road, photographed them and exhibited three such portraits on the then Republic Square in the same place normally reserved for portraits of Tito, Kardelj, and possibly Lenin in the early stages of socialism. In later periods, it was someone from the top political leadership. So he overturned this custom and somewhat confused many passers-by. He showed them that this format is not just for those figures, i.e., political rulers, but that it can also be for us: ordinary people. Additionally, in some way he wanted to confuse passers-by and make them wonder - who are these people? So they are some kind of new political leadership. This again is an unusual process of communication. Here we are talking about a strategy that is taken from reality, from life I would say - and transferred to art, and I think it has done its job very well." Nena Dimitrijević thinks manipulation of the view/perspective ''was to shake the passive, unquestioning attitude toward the mass media, history and tradition. The artist hoped to change passive, non-critical acceptance of the suggestive language of urban monuments and encourage social awareness with art presented in public places" (Dimitrijević 2014: 351).
It is interesting that the performances in Yugoslavia did not provoke a reaction by the government, while the posters hung in Paris in 1971 and in Venice in 1976 were, according to Nena Dimitrijević, removed by the police, with the explanation that they ''upset Paris'', and they aroused too much interest among tourists in Venice (Dimitrijevic 2004: 12). But as Dimitrijević himself testified, ''even today I get chills thinking of the possible consequences of my work on the then Republic Square when instead of Tito's portraits I put those of passers-by" (Dimitrijević 2014: 611).
In the "Casual Passer-by" cycle, Dimitrijević did not record the date on which a photograph of a random passer-by was taken, but only the year and the time, and according to him the reason was as follows: "The ’Causal Passer-by’ begins when I encounter a passer-by, let’s say at 3:54 p.m. in 1972, but the date was recorded, only the time and year of the encounter. I leave out the date because memory usually works in a way that you can remember something that happened in the afternoon seventy years ago, but you will not remember whether it was February 7th or 14th. You can remember the season, the time of the day and even time of the year, but not the date"(D. Pohl 2004: 50).
Description of content
The Casual Passer-by Collection consists of a total of eight photographs and two posters (portraits). One photograph and one poster (portrait) are in the Daniel Marzona Gallery in Berlin, and they testify to theperformanceon the Jugoexport building in Belgrade in 1971. The remaining seven photographs and one poster (portrait) are in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, and they form the core of this collection. Of the seven mentioned photographs, five of them are from the performances held on Republic Square (today's Ban Jelačić Square) in Zagreb in 1971, and two photographs and a poster (portrait)are from the performance held on Marshal Tito Square (today's Republic of Croatia Square) in Zagreb in the same year. The photographs and poster (portrait) from the performance on Marshal Tito Square are a part of the Museum’s permanent exhibition.
The poster (portrait) of a casual passer-by from Belgrade is held in the Daniel Marzona Gallery in Berlin, posters (portraits) of casual passers-by from Republic Square in Zagreb are located in the Museum Moderner Kunst Collection (MUMOK) in Vienna, while the poster (portrait) of a casual passer-by from the performances on Marshal Tito Square is located in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb.
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Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
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Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
1) Beroš, Nada. 2009. Akcenti - Vodič kroz Zbirke u pokretu. Zagreb: Muzej suvremene umjetnosti
2) Dimitrijević, Braco. 2017. Braco Dimitrijević: retrospektiva. Zagreb: Muzej suvremene umjetnosti
Author(s) of this page
- Bencetić, Lidija
1) Dimitrijević, Braco. 2001. Braco Dimitrijević: Triptychos post historicus. Zagreb: Muzej suvremene umjetnosti
2) Milovac, Tihomir. 2002. The misfits: conceptualist strategies in Croatian contemporary art. Zagreb: Muzej suvremene umjetnosti
3) Hoptman, Laura and Pospiszyl, Tomáš (ed.). 2002. Primary documents : a sourcebook for Eastern and Central European art since the 1950s. New York: Museum of modern art
4) Maračić, Antun (ed.). 2004. Braco Dimitrijević. Zagreb - Dubrovnik: Art studio Azinović - Umjetnička galerija
5) Turković, Evelina. ˝Braco Dimitrijević: interview˝, Kontura art magazin, 14 (2004), 82 ; str. 21.-25.
6) D. Pohl, Klaus. ˝Razgovor s Bracom Dimitrijevićem˝, Braco Dimitrijević, Zagreb: Dubrovnik, Art studio Azinović: Umjetnička galerija, 2004., str. 49.-53.
7) Dimitrijević, Nena. ˝Braco Dimitrijević: posthistorijska dimenzija˝, Braco Dimitrijević, Zagreb: Dubrovnik, Art studio Azinović: Umjetnička galerija, 2004., str. 10.-19.
8) Peritz, Romina. ˝Umjetnost ne smije biti vezana za medij˝. Kontura art magazin, 19 (2009), 105; str. 62.-65.
9) Rosen, Margit (ed.). 2011. A little-known story about a movement, a magazine, and the computer’s arrival in art : new tendencies and bit international, 1961-1973. Karlsruhe - Cambridge: ZKM - Center for art and media - The MIT press
10) Dimitrijević Braco and Dimitrijević, Nena. 2014. Odabrani tekstovi. Zagreb: Durieux
11) Dimitrijević, Braco. 2017. Braco Dimitrijević: retrospektiva. Zagreb: Muzej suvremene umjetnosti
Milovac, Tihomir , interview by Bencetić, Lidija , March 09, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection