A few e-mails on Mladen Stilinovic
A couple of points worth considering when writing about Stilinovic’s work: the naturalness of the way he works, and the use of porn images in relation to Pop. I would like to elaborate further on this and say that I understand all this naturalness and use of found images, buttons, fabric, and even tape, as a way of de-glorifying his work as a product, at least a precious one, and Artwork with a capital A. I see this naturalness closely aligned with simplicity. Simplicity of materials, simplicity of language, simplicity even of message. This simplicity, though, should not be underrated. It is somehow, what makes the work strong, what animates it.
About meeting him and going to his lecture: like Merve, I must say I was really impressed. Not only by his persona “per se,” but also by how much depth he could articulate with his “bad English.” Using so little, one could even respectfully say, limited vocabulary, he was able to communicate and question, with short and few intense statements. The way he talks is a reflection on and of his work.
I would argue that the activist aspect of his work comes as much from the distribution as the books themselves. However, we have to be careful here, since he did mention many times that showing his work at city squares or at his apartment was never an attempt to go against the art market—galleries and exhibition spaces in general were almost non-existent in Croatia. The exhibitions-actions were the only means to show his work, to give life to his books. Think about this: if a book is not opened, if there is no interaction, what is it? And even though it was not necessarily to go against anything, I see that as some kind of activism.