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(1) Samples of works featured in "Remember Yugoslavia
(2) Signature Wall for "Remember Yugoslavia

"REMEMBER YUGOSLAVIA"

by Shirle Gottlieb

(Sherry Frumkin Gallery,Santa Monica, hosting Galerija Studentskog Kulturnog Centra, Belgrade) "Remember Yugoslavia" is both an anguished cry and the name of an international exhibit organized by artist/curator Andrev Veljkovic, in conjunction with artists of Yugoslavian descent, Art in General in New York, and Galerija Studentskog Kulturnog Centra of Belgrade.

Dedicated to the haunting memory of homelands torn asunder, this show is the first of its kind to include work by all the disparate factions (Serbs, Croats, Montenegrines, Bosnians, Macedonians and Slovenes) since war destroyed their country and robbed them of their cultural identities. It also features paintings by internationally renowned Komar and Melamid (from the former USSR) and Leon Golub (of the United States), who are participating as an act of solidarity with the exhibit's intentions.

A far cry from the reportage that has deluged the media world-wide, "Remember Yugoslavia" focuses on human emotional responses that are universal in scope, rather than on political concerns or religious beliefs. Highly conceptual, consisting of large-scale installations, videos, photo essays, performance, sculpture, paintings and wall-works, the show deplores the wanton loss of life, mourns the dead, pleads for freedom, and prays for sanity.

One entire wall here is devoted to The Aliens, Vladimir Radojicic's black and white photographic record of expatriates he has documented since 1992. There they are, staring straight into the camera like commonplace police mug-shots: Unsmiling, shirtless, labeled by name, occupation, ID number and departure date.

Around the corner is Vesna Golubovic's mural painted directly on a cobalt-blue wall. Prayer consists of free-flowing, white chalk line drawings that resemble abstract figures in prayer. . .a meditative, peaceful image that counteracts the highly charged, blood-spattered wall of Remember Brothers Sisters, a collaborative installation that alludes to ritual ethnic cleansing.

Fullbright Fellow Vesna Todorovic Miksic offers Gods Eat Immortality: 140 Days, an installation. Representing the declining life of human sustenance are 140 identical zip-lock plastic bags, each containing one bread roll, that Miksic has neatly tacked to the wall in perfect alignment.

A gold spear plunged directly into the floor and flowing gold banners hung from the ceiling suggest the glory of war in The Banner of History. But artist Zoran Belic Weiss undermines this message by creating a vine of blood-dripping hospital tubes that creep up the weapon to strangle it of its power.

One of the most elegant installations in Vlasta Volcano Mikic's Signs Along the Road. In it, strips of scorched rubber tires hang from the ceiling to dance over a floor of engraved Orthodox crucifixes. Evoking images of tortured, disemboweled life, these tire forms threaten anyone who would dare walk among them.

The most visceral work by far is Victoria Vesna's In Order to Shine You've Got to Burn. A black infant coffin sits on the floor at the foot of a montage of cibachrome photographs pinned to the wall in the shape of a cross. Collectively these images of military recruitment, popular culture and consumer society add up to a stinging indictment of the governments of the world for their lack of responsibility, and presents the media as having exploited the tragedy known as Bosnia.