Weekend Art: Hallelujah the Hill
Aleksandar Battista Ilic in collaboration with Ivana Keser and Tomislav Gotovac (Croatia)

Weekend Art is a permanent performance started in 1996 on the Medvenica mountain in Zagreb, Croatia. In 1996, Aleksandar Ilic proposed the first protographic session, thus taking on the role of author and producer of the project. Texts are by Ivana Keser, from the Weekend Art Newspaper, produced for the exhibition "After the Wall" in Stockholm, October 1999.

Natural Surroundings

Over the last ten years the south-eastern region of Europe, due to the war and various other circumstances, has seen a sudden release of an aggressive Hellenic spirit characterized by a ridiculously overblown cult of sport and military deftness. Here, once again, muscles and endurance have become the epitome of ideal man. In the general fear of anything different, in the grip of set mediatic and ideological models, cosmopolitan artists have remained listed as undesirable social elements. They are forced to find shelter elsewhere, as the dictates of the official political line, devoid of any vision, have driven them to the very margins of society. In the scanty remaining space of personal freedom they are obliged to develop their sense of hearing, so as not to over-develop their sense of obedience.

In the meantime, so as not to become an end to ourselves, Tomislav, Alexandar and I, set off into the outskirts of our city. Forests full of leeches, grass snakes crushed on the asphalt and swarms of wasps in the hollow trees, provided the idyllic basis for us turning our backs on the city. Our decision to return to nature following in the footsteps of cave-men, was an easy one to make after experiencing the degradation of the role of art in society. In the forest, all three of us, having found a tolerant environment, felt less superfluous than in the city. In any case, the predecessors of Zagreb's citizens originally came from the mountain. The dark crevices of the cave Veternica provided a prehistoric archeological shelter to the diluvian cave man, presumably the ancestor of today's citizen of Zagreb.

Weekend Artists

We became weekend artists slowly and noiselessly, by spending all week doing unexpected and irreconcilable jobs. These would provide us with sufficient material means to spend our Sundays being what we in fact are. Doing all sorts of things is nothing unusual. Persevering in amateur conditions, on the other hand, is quite hard. Therefore, the idea of Weekend Art is like a perceptual inversion, something like an axiom of life whereby a hopeless situation can be turned into an advantage. Initially, our Sunday outings had more of a therapeutic character than an artistic one.

At the same time, even the first few photographs Aleksandar took in the spring of 1996 on Medvednica, showed clearly that this fictive site of activity, barely marked on the superficial map of Europe, would, to us, become the center of the world. We chose Brestovac as our first destination. Brestovac is a rather derelict place overgrown with moss and undergrowth. This once lively complex, a sanatorium for tuberculosis sufferers was a health center frequented, it seems, by those concerned more with cerebral activity than muscle tone. Brestovac was a refuge for all major Croatian artists. By the end of its eighty years of existence the sanatorium was a complex employing a staff of two thousand. In the 1970s this complex slowly began caving in and was deemed undesirable and unhealthy for the morality of the inhabitants of the nearby city. Life surrounded by wilderness acted as a spur to literary, but also, sexual appetites. So it is not surprising that the sketches of the most important Croatian works of art were created here, on the ideal altitude of this Austro-Hungarian sanatorium.

Performance without an audience

From the very belly of Weekend Art and as a participant of this friendly threesome, I admit that as a civilized being I am deeply troubled by the knowledge that I cannot do without the mountain, but the mountain can do without me. To be deep in the woods at dusk, far from the sound of engines, with no demarcations and with the suggestion of a few hours of walking to the first asphalt leading to the center of town, means at the same time to be nowhere. These all day wanderings around the woods, intercepted by performances without spectators, are accompanied by long conversations whose contents often inspire the situation recorded on the slides.

Everybody wants to be a professional. But this we, Aleskandar, Tomislav and I during the episodes of Weekend Art, are definitely not. We practice our art on weekends when working people are resting, and this according to all its historical connotations denotes extreme amateurism. As today the subject of artistic practice need not necessarily be characterized by one of the eternal tenets of art such as the durability of the work or even the question of authorship or originality, we claim, on the basis of equating every person with an artist (however annoying this may be), with Beuysean certainty that every amateur is in fact a professional of a kind. Weekend Art, therefore, shamelessly tries to compensate for the whole working week following the instructive example of the ubiquitous E.T.A. Hoffmann who, during his lifetime two hundred years ago, set certain days aside for practicing music, others for composing, others for writing, and ended up by painting on weekends.



about Aleksandar Battista Ilic >>

about Ivana Kesser >>

about Tomislav Gotovac >>