Neue Slowenische Kunst

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Logo of Neue Slowenische Kunst

Neue Slowenische Kunst (a German phrase meaning "New Slovenian Art"), a.k.a. NSK, is a controversial political art collective that announced itself in Slovenia in 1984, when Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia. NSK's name, being German, is compatible with a theme in NSK works: the complicated relationship Slovenes have had with Germans. The name of NSK's music wing, Laibach, is also the German name of the Slovene capital Ljubljana, creating controversy through evoking memories of the Nazi annexation of Slovenia during the Second World War and Slovenia's previous seven centuries as part of the Habsburg Monarchy.[1]


NSK's best-known member is the musical group Laibach. Other NSK member groups include IRWIN (visual art), Scipion Nasice Sisters Theatre (also known as Red Pilot and Cosmokinetic Theatre Noordung), New Collective Studio (graphics; also known as New Collectivism), Retrovision (film and video), and the Department of Pure and Applied Philosophy (theory).[2][3][4] The founding groups of the NSK were Laibach, IRWIN, and Scipion Nasice Sisters Theater. Membership has been open to all artistic groups interested in challenging taboos and challenging the norms of Slovene national identity.[5]


NSK art often draws on symbols drawn from totalitarian or extreme nationalist movements, often reappropriating totalitarian kitsch in a visual style reminiscent of Dada. NSK artists often juxtapose symbols from different (and often incompatible) political ideologies. For example, a 1987 NSK-designed poster caused a scandal by winning a competition for the Yugoslavian Youth Day Celebration. The poster appropriated a painting by Nazi artist Richard Klein, replacing the flag of Nazi Germany with the Yugoslav flag and the German eagle with a dove.[3] Intended as an ironic joke, the painting soon fell foul of the authorities, who interpreted it as equating Marshal Josip Broz Tito with Adolf Hitler, and when it was reproduced on the cover of Mladina, that particular issue was banned.[6]

Both IRWIN and Laibach are emphatic about their work being collective rather than individual. Laibach's original songs and arrangements are always credited to the group collectively; the individual musicians are not named on their album covers; at one point, there were even two separate Laibach groups touring at the same time, both with members of the original group. Similarly, the IRWIN artists never sign their work individually; instead, they are "signed" with a stamp or certificate indicating approval as a work from the IRWIN collective.

The NSK were the subject of a 1996 documentary film written and directed by Michael Benson, entitled Predictions of Fire (Prerokbe Ognja).[7] Among those interviewed in the film is Slovenian intellectual Slavoj Žižek.

NSK State[edit]

Since 1991, NSK claims to constitute a state,[8] a claim similar to that of micronations. They issue passports,[9] have presented shows of their work in the guise of an embassy or even as a territory of their supposed state, and maintain consulates in several cities including Umag, Croatia (since 1994).[10] NSK have also issued postage stamps. Laibach, in 2006, recorded (some may say 'remixed') the NSK State National Anthem on the LP "Volk." The "anthem" adopts its melody from another Laibach song, "The Great Seal." Laibach's version of the NSK anthem includes a recitation of an excerpt from Winston Churchill's famous "We shall fight them on the beaches/We shall never surrender" speech.

The NSK passports are an art project and as such are not valid for travel. However, many desperate people have fallen for a scam in which they are issued a NSK passport.[citation needed] Most of these scams originate in Nigeria and Egypt.[11]

The first NSK citizens congress was held in Berlin 2010. It was followed by a "NSK Rendez-Vous" in Lyon, France, where Alexei Monroe revealed to The Captain Spaulding's Bizarre Freaky Circus[12] Laibach and NSK 's aim : make people "aware that totalitarianism isn’t a discrete historical phenomenon which went on from 1933 to 1989 and then it’s over so let’s have a nice triumph of liberal democracy"[citation needed]. Another "NSK Rendez-Vous" took place in London on February 26, 2011. A third "NSK Rendez-Vous" was set to take place from February 1 to 3, 2012 in New York's Museum of Modern Art.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Monroe, Alexei. Interrogation Machine. MIT Press, 2005. p 3.
  2. ^ Anonymous. "State of Art: the new Slovene Avant Garde" (2004). Northwest Film Forum and Scala House, program for exhibit November 18–November 24, 2004 at Northwest Film Forum, Seattle.
  3. ^ a b Regina Hackett. "Slovenian art collective is adept at working politics and art". Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 19, 2004.
  4. ^ "Laibach". Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  5. ^ James Gow & Cathie Carmichael, Slovenia and the Slovenes: A Small State and the New Europe, C. Hurst & Company, 2001, pp. 98-99
  6. ^ Gow & Carmichael, Slovenia and the Slovenes, p. 96
  7. ^ Holden, Steven. "Facing the Menace of Totalitarianism". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  8. ^ "[ NSKSTATE.COM ] [ The Slovenia of Athens ]". Archived from the original on 2008-03-09. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  9. ^ "[ NSKSTATE.COM ] [ HOW TO GET A PASSPORT ]". Archived from the original on 2008-04-06. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  10. ^ "[ NSKSTATE.COM ]". Archived from the original on 2008-04-06. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  11. ^ [dead link] "[ NSK Passport ]". DHC 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  12. ^ "NSK à Lyon : Perspektive 2/2". 
  13. ^ "NSK Passport Office, New York & NSK Rendezvous MoMA". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Arns, Inke (2002). Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) - eine Analyse ihrer künstlerischen Strategien im Kontext der 1980er Jahre in Jugoslawien. Museum Ostdeutsche Galerie, Regensburg. ISBN 961-90851-1-6. 
  • Arns (ed.), Inke (2003). Irwin: Retroprincip 1983-2003. Frankfurt/Main: Revolver - Archiv für aktuelle Kunst. ISBN 3-936919-56-9. 
  • Monroe, Alexei (2005). Interrogation Machine: Laibach and NSK. The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-63315-9. 

External links[edit]