Artists and activists brutally thrown out of museum because of Damien Hirst exhibition (Novi Sad, Serbia)
Several days before the incident happened, a group of artists and activists have invited their colleagues, who are dissatisfied with the situation in Serbian culture and are against public cuts, to make a protest action during the opening of the exhibition “New Religion,” of one of the richest artist Damien Hirst in Novi Sad at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina (MSUV) on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 8PM.
They invited colleagues and public to express resistance during the opening ceremony, and to oppose cultural politics of the Serbian ministry of culture, province of Vojvodina and the city of Novi Sad, which are using public funds to provide unconditional support to corporate capital and interests of the oligarchy, while cutting all funds for communal cultural projects.
According to their previous statement, they choose the exhibition of Damien Hirst as a spot to act and to express their dissatisfaction, because he is a synonym for art market and financial speculation in the art field. They underlined in their previous public statement that Hirst’s exhibition is particularly problematic in this context, because of additional funds for insurance, transportation of works and promotion that are to be paid by public money while at a time all citizens’ initiatives in the field of culture in Serbia remain without any institutional support and are being forced to subordinate its work the interests of profit.
Therefore, the group of artists and activities invited other citizens to engage and to create a “protest in the exhibition” by making small actions or performances, document reactions at the exhibition during the opening, or make a collective action that supposed to be performed at the opening day of the exhibition Friday 2 September at 20:00h. They ended up their announcement with such slogans: We say no to corporate culture! AGAINST privatization and colonization of public museums! and AGAINST brutal commercialization and instrumentalization of art!
Their public action was brutally stopped during the opening ceremony. Private security kicked them out from the museum, Here is their public statement related to the current situation:
Public statement of the artists and activists who were brutally
kicked out from the Museum of contemporary Art of Vojvodina (MSUV)
We are informing the public, that our protest against the support of
the state, the province and the city to corporate capital and the
exhibition of Damien Hirst at MSUV was turned into brutal expulsion
from the museum of artists and activists by the private security
The protest started while Artists and activists were distributing
leaflets with which they invited the audience to support the protest
by putting a black blindfold over their eyes and refuse to participate
in the reproduction of capitalist hegemony in the field of culture.
They read the proclamation and hold in their hands the banners (
“AGAINST corporate culture”, “AGAINST servility of public
institutions,” “AGAINST bourgeois art”, etc.).
Artists and activists were brutally pushed away from the museum by the
private security. Although artists and activists did nothing to
disturb public order, just in front of the museum the police stopped
them preventing them to return to the museum. During brutal expulsion
from the museum some of the people in the audience were cheering,
supporting the protestors. A local artist who joined the protest, was
treated quite hard by the police because he did not had an identity
card by him, and his protest continued in front of the museum.
Otherwise, it should be added that the opening of the exhibition was
organize on the top floor of the museum and it was attended by the
elite, ruling politicians, UK ambassador together with British
Council, Serbia, and journalists, while the “ordinary” people were not
allowed to climb up and for them only video projection in the lower
level of the museum was organized. Private security was not permitted
to go to the upper floor of this public institution. We assume that
they are organized all this private security thin order to prevent any
protest and therefore our protest took place in the lobby of the
We believe that the organization of this exhibition and the way we
were treated showed that ruling party of Serbia fully stands behind
corporate capital and that the entire system is organize in this way.
We invite the public to oppose and stop tolerating such a disastrous
behavior of the institutions!
Video of the protest: https://youtu.be/jkjuO3X_Ylw