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 formed 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. The name created controversy because some felt it evoked memories of the Nazi annexation of Slovenia during the Second World War. It also refers to Slovenia's previous seven centuries as part of the Habsburg Monarchy.[1]


NSK's best-known member is also its founder, the musical group Laibach. Other NSK members include groups such as 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 traditionally been open to all artistic groups who show an interest in challenging the norms and taboos 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. It was later reproduced on the cover of Mladina magazine, and that particular issue was subsequently 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 itself, and individual musicians are not listed on their album covers. At one point, there were even two separate groups touring under the name Laibach at the same time. Both had 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 was the subject of a 1996 documentary film entitled Predictions of Fire (Prerokbe Ognja),[7] which was written and directed by Michael Benson. Among those interviewed is Slovenian intellectual Slavoj Žižek.

NSK State[edit]

Since 1991, the NSK has claimed to be a sovereign state of sorts,[8] a claim similar to that of micronations. As such, displays of its members' work are performed under the guise of an embassy, or a territory of the supposed "state". Since 1994, the NSK has maintained consulates in several cities, including Umag, Croatia.[9] It has also gone so far as to issue passports [10] and postage stamps. In 2006, Laibach recorded the NSK National Anthem for the LP "Volk." The anthem adopts its melody from another Laibach song, "The Great Seal." It includes a recitation of an excerpt from Winston Churchill's famous "We shall fight them on the beaches/We shall never surrender" speech.

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

In 2010, the first NSK Citizens Congress was held in Berlin. It was followed by a "NSK Rendez-Vous" in Lyon, France, where Alexei Monroe revealed NSK's aim : to 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".[12] On February 26, 2011, another "NSK Rendez-Vous" took place in London. In 2012, yet another "NSK Rendez-Vous" was set to take place in New York City'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 ]". Archived from the original on 2008-04-06. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  10. ^ "[ NSKSTATE.COM ] [ HOW TO GET A PASSPORT ]". 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]