Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Art & Art History

First Advisor

Kira Van Lil

Second Advisor

Claire Farago

Third Advisor

Annette de Stecher

Abstract

This project suggests readings of contemporary performative artworks from the South Slavic region that look beyond the ethno-national identity of the artist to examine intersectional identities in play, expressions of war memory and trauma, and repudiations of the often essentializing gaze of the international art market on artists currently working in the post-Yugoslav space. While issues of ethno-nationalism are certainly a part of identity construction in post-Yugoslav society, and a result of the identity politics of the globalized art world that these artists entered into after the end of socialism in Eastern Europe, it is reductive to relegate the works thusly without addressing the intersectional nature of both self- and social-identities. Whether rejecting or reifying signifiers of identity from the Yugoslav period, recalling family histories and traditions, celebrating or lamenting reinvigorated religious practices, or examining hybrid cultures and life in the diaspora– the performative practices of artists from the South Slavic region are indicators of the identity work being taken on by the artists themselves, as well as their publics. This project proposes a methodology that could be employed to study the contemporary art production of regions that do not have a unifying culture, but that have been understood to have a monolithic cultural identity by the essentializing gaze of the art world in the former West.