from 16 September to 29 November 2023

rhythm 2001 by vladimir nikolić

and a 2023 essay by Branislav Dimitrijević

Vladimir Nikolić, Rhythm, video, 2001, 10’45”, video still, courtesy of the artist

Trieste Contemporanea is pleased to invite you on 16 September at 6.30 pm in Trieste at Studio Tommaseo (via del Monte 2/1) to the opening of the exhibition Rhythm: a video installation by Vladimir Nikolić, realised in 2001, whose themes of investigation unpredictably for more than twenty years are enlarged and still belonging to the current situation.

This debut video in the Serbian artist’s artistic career ― in which five performers, chosen by Nikolić from among his friends, make the sign of the cross obsessively repeating it to the exhausting rhythm of the techno music of the time  ―  was defined at that time by Serbian art historian and curator Branislav Dimitrijević, known internationally for his studies on the relations between culture and ideology in the former Yugoslavia: Dimitrijević then considered Rhythm to be a powerful investigation on religion as ideology, and, commenting on how ideology consists in material practices and rituals, he referred to “one of the first (religion) ideological formulas, which was written in the eighteenth century by Blaise Pascal: ‘Kneel down, move your lips in prayer and you will believe’.”

Emblematically, although a work by a young artist, Rhythm is part of the extremely important collection of Transitland research and archive project, that, thanks to a pool of European curators coordinated by the Ludwig Museum-Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest, brought together on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall about one hundred videoworks produced in Eastern Europe between 1989 and 2009. This project has become a fundamental study of the impact on art of transformations in post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe (in 2010 also Trieste Contemporanea presented this archive project, discussing it with some of its curators and screening all videos composing it).

As in 2001 in Rhythm a peculiarly Serbian socio-political cross-section was under observation, which can now be thought as anticipating the widespread rise of nationalism, we have decided to re-present Nikolić’s videowork for a contemporary discussion.
Rhythm – being opening the new page of Trieste Contemporanea’s in-depth studies “libraryline-reloaded” – is now proposed in an installation exhibition format, live commented by Vladimir Nikolić at the opening, and accompanied and completed by a new critical essay on purpose written by Branislav Dimitrijević: from the perspective of today’s scenario, Serbian art critic well explains how Rhythm could now even be “very clearly interpreted as an allegory of ideology” tout court. In fact, he writes: “Rhythm emerges from a specific context and a specific timeframe (the political and cultural climate and contrasts in Serbia in the 1990s, Ed.). However, its relevance two decades later indicates both how this work in its direct critical expression possess a universal quality, but also how universal the phenomena this work was addressing have become. What seemed to be a characteristic of the so-called ‘societies in transition’ – which exited from the socialist ideological model and replaced it with nationalism, religiousness and right-wing politics – have become a regrettable attribute of the world at large.” (2023 Dimitrijević’s text is available for visitors in paper version in the exhibition room and online at our website).

Vladimir Nikolić lives and works in Belgrade. His work includes video, video performance, film and photography. In his early works, Nikolić explored the mechanisms of ritual submission to religious authority and tradition, as it deals with the authority of art history. Throughout his work he constantly exercises institutional critique, and questions the artist’s general purpose in the world of art. In later works he explores visual perception and the idea of time and space, and the ways they are submitted to histories of optics and new technologies.
He has exhibited works internationally both in solo and group exhibitions and has taken part in art residency programs such as Foundation for a Civil Society (New York, 2003), Recollets (Paris, 2007), Otto Prod (Marseille, 2008), 24cc (Rome, 2011), Times Museum (Guangzhou, 2014), IASPIS (Stockholm, 2016) and Tobačna 001 (Ljubljana, 2017). His artworks are part of international private and public collections, such as Centre Pompidou collection, Paris, Berardo Museum Lisbon, FRAC Poitou Charente, Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade, Vehbi Koç Foundation Contemporary Art Collection, Istanbul, MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Art, Rome, etc. In 2022 Nikolić represented Republic of Serbia at 59th Venice Biennale.


Title: Rhythm
Media: Single channel SD video
Duration: 10’45”
Year: 2001
Performers: Branimir Stojanović Trša (1958-2022),
Žolt Kovač, Vera Večanski, Zdravko Janković, Dejan


a video installation by / vladimir nikolić
a critical essay by / branislav dimitrijević
in the framework of the activities of / trieste
contemporanea dialogues with the art of central eastern
europe 2023
title of the exhibition / rhythm 2001
venue / studio tommaseo – trieste – italy
duration / from 16 september to 29 november 2023
a production / trieste contemporanea – studio
tommaseo – the trieste contemporanea library
co-financed by / the regione autonoma friuli venezia giulia
project curator and editor / giuliana carbi jesurun
director of the library / elettra maria spolverini
project assistant and press office / marina lutmann
exhibition design consultancy / marco gnesda
scaffolding construction / KC s.r.l.
multimedia and IT consultancy / alberto arsie
english language consultancy / nicholas komninos
italian translation / giovanna carbi
photographs / courtesy vladimir nikolić
graphic design / giulia lantier
printing / grafiche filacorda srl