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Peristil : zbornik radova za povijest umjetnosti, Vol.45 No.1 Prosinac 2002.

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The Biafra in the Light of Influences by the Zemlja and Valerio Micheli

Vinko Srhoj ; Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Splitu (Zadar)

Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (25 MB) str. 211-221 preuzimanja: 56* citiraj
Srhoj, V. (2002). Biafra u svjetlu utjecaja grupe Zemlja i Valerija Michielija. Peristil : zbornik radova za povijest umjetnosti, 45(1), 211-221. Preuzeto s

The activities of the Biafra group have been often related to the native tradition of social and critical engagement as once proposed by the Zemlja group. The Zemlja and the Biafra are linked by a certain social moralizing, and a search for a social environment elevated to a programmatic level. Style and forms differ but both groups maintained that it was more important to testify to extra-artistic circumstances of human suffering and the inhuman conditions of life, rather than to prescribe»pro-narcissist and sensualist tonics«(as stated by Zdenko Rus) of new esthetics promoted by other »non-engaged« groups. Social structures the two groups addressed also somewhat differed, although they were also linked by the same sensitivity for injustice, and for the socially neglected, oppressed and handicapped. The Zemlja addressed the impoverished peasantry and the workers, and it placed under its protective shield the original populist artist appreciating the primordial power of their non-academic talent. The Biafra derides the naive art, not as a work of the untrained, but as a phenomenon which had betrayed the Zemlja's instructions about originality, and had turned them into a commercial village manufacture. The Biafra addressed the ecologist, urban scientist, politician, and social protector aiming at lowering the social insensitivity toward those crushed by the rhythm of contemporary life. Whereas the Zemlja was attacked by the radical left politicians as being too prone to esthetics and not enough engaged in promoting social resistance, the Biafra was criticized by those the Biafra members called the »formalist avant-garde«. Attacks on the Biafra could be seen as a reaction within the field coming from the Biafra's antipodes, i.e., urban interventionists, conceptualists, and minimalists, whereas criticism by social and political structures remained mostly absent. The appearance of the Biafra in the seventies raised again the old issue of extra-artistic engagement, now refracted by the dilemma: are the Zemlja and the Biafra viable promoters of true social sensitivity?
The relationship between the Biafra and Micheli represents for many a thorny issue when judging the originality of the group and of its contribution freed from Micheli's shadow. Many stylistic purists considered the Biafra to be a bunch of mere epigones who trivialized Micheli's artistic legacy, while spicing it with explicit brutality and affected horrors. But as opposed to Micheli, the Biafra immersed itself in types and characters, into sickness and neglect within the neighborhood, among people who were not reduced to Micheli's metaphysical destiny, but to a tragic existence within a social context. The Biafra clothed its types into everyday clothes and the routine of everyday life, as opposed to Micheli who reduced them to participants in human predicament without any individual specifications, cosmic tragic actors of predetermined destiny.

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