The Art of the Collective – Case Zemlja



The project "The Issue of the Art of the Collective – Case Zemlja" (2016 – 2019) deals with the research of the Zemlja Artists Association (1929 – 1935), one of the first examples of an organized and programmatic gathering of artists in the area. It was presented to the public as a series of exhibitions (Zagreb, Pula, Petrinja) and a publication of the same name.


We have approached this collective artistic endeavor by dissecting the broader socio-political context of the interwar period. The historicization of "Case Zemlja" has raised an issue neglected by the existing narratives, that of the relationships between the Association’s members and the social movements of the time. We were interested in how the artists had understood the social function of their practice, as well as how the heteronomous critique of the autonomy of art resonated within the Association itself and the artistic field at large. Although almost an entire century separates us from Zemlja’s collective work and its search for the answer to the question of what is leftist art, art created collectively and intended for the collective, these questions are still relevant today. This is not to say that this historical example can be applied to the contemporary situation as a recipe, but rather that space must be created for a new historicization of Zemlja’s artistic practice.


In 2019, the German foundation Hans and Lea Grundig has awarded BLOK’s curatorial team (Ana Kutleša, Ivana Hanaček, Vesna Vuković) a prize for the research and exhibition project "The Issue of the Art of the Collective – Case Zemlja" in the art history/mediation category.


Authors: Ivana Hanaček, Ana Kutleša, Vesna Vuković

Associate historian: Nikola Vukobratović

Design: Nina Bačun and Roberta Bratović – Oaza