FRAGMENTS AND REVIEWS

ON ANDREJ TISMA'S ART

 
SRPSKI


 


     VISUAL POETRY AND MAIL ART  

 

   Andrej Tisma's art actions take place in the environment of the so-called expanded, but at the same time interwoven visual art and literary medium. Word, gesture, mathematical symbol or random snapshot meet in the same semantic plane to transform their barely hinted and contradictory semanticism. 
     Particularly interesting are Tisma's explorations in mail-art, a fairly recent artistic discipline, whose expansion over the past few years had pushed into the background conceptualism, concrete and visual poetry. In his mail-art creations Tisma makes use of stamps of his own manufacture ("remek delo / master piece", "neopisivo / undescribable" etc.) which he applies to postcards and other communicative material or employs them to intervene in official, mostly banal picture postcards, changing their kitsch appearance and message to a relevant poetic load. 
     Andrej Tisma's "Alter" is one of the top achievements of the Yugoslav  avant-guard in 
recent years. 


   Miroljub Todorovic  

   (Epilogue of the  Alter  book, Vrsac, 1987) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     PERFORMANCES - (SPI)RITUALS    
 

    The title of Andrej Tišma's performance "Liberté, fraternité, égalité 1789-1989" staged at the "Diagonale" gallery in Paris on 20th January 1989, seemingly related to the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution, was actually meant to stimulate contemplation of the current significance of these so frequently used terms. Have the demanded freedom, equality and brotherhood of the people been fulfilled by now, two centuries later? These were the questions Tišma posed to his audience during the discourse, which was the first part of the performance.

During the interaction, Tišma distributed clippings from erotic comics, bearing the motto "Liberte 1789-1989", impressed in red letters, thus asking the question of how far are we stretching the boundaries of freedom. After that, in order to "leave a mental trace" of this event, Tišma stamped bodies or garments of his visitors with the message "You met Andrej Tisma".

Tišma's project actually consists of "work with human psyches", through discussions and provocations by way of stating his own view of the arts and asking personal questions, in order to establish communication on a level where a person feels free to talk in public about himself, his feelings and ideas.

About fifty spectators were very much interested in the event and were ready to participate actively. An hour long lively dialogue with the audience evolved. There were spontaneous reactions, laughs and even singing, making the intention of Andrej Tišma to make a close encounter of an artistic kind a full success.

    Igor Antic     

   (From "Stav" magazine no. 31-32, Novi Sad, February. 1989.) 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

     MAIL ART AND RUBBER-STAMP ART   
 

     A multimedia artist, Andrej Tisma, started his activities in a new, mail-art medium, in the early 70’s. Mail-art has set out as a form of art called guerrilla, or underground art which endeavored to establish a closer contact with the recipient. 
     As for the art of stamps, Tisma has made stamps in a number of ways, applying different  techniques. His stamps probably rank among the most recognized ones in the world. In his case,  the word and the picture are one. It is in this sense, therefore, that this art will have its value in  the future as well. 

    Zivan S. Zivkovic     

   (TV Novi Sad, “Videopis” program, June 1992) 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


       PERFORMANCES - (SPI)RITUALS 
 

         Andrej Tisma is one of the few younger authors who in the current, changed circumstances in the world of art, continue to express themselves artistically in the way that was introduced in the 70’s and that could be termed - behavioral art. Namely, it is an art that does not find its expression in the production of art works: drawings, sculptures, graphics, but rather in the communication between the artist and his environment. 

        Certainly, what is also important are the thoughts, the ideas and endeavors the artist wishes to convey. It can be said that the ideas promoted by Tisma are very topical in the current circumstances. He is pleading for the establishment of communication among people, for cooperation and understanding. 

        Jesa Denegri  

       (TV Novi Sad, “Videopis” program, June 1992) 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

  

        PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO ART 
 

          Tisma uses polaroids in very different ways, but the key system of combining them is based on the principle of Hegel’s triads. In other words, he juxtaposes two different pictures and it is up to the viewers to draw a conclusion from them. On the one hand, there is life, represented by powerful erotic scenes. On the other, he takes objects from nature, which could be called “found” objects and scenes that represent the other, the Thanatos. In such combinations, Tisma makes us wonder about the objective of art, about the meaning of modern life and, indeed, about what is it that artists should be doing. 
          Tisma's video has actually struck us as an entirely new approach to the creation of short artistic videos. He uses as his sources the current TV production, i.e. news, documentary and history programs, skillfully compiles them and creates a system which talks about an artist who has consciously and artfully weaved up an artistic viewpoint over a number of years, an attitude which certainly places Tisma among the leading figures of the contemporary art in this region. 


 Slavko Timotijevic  

(TV Novi Sad, “Videopis”, June 1992)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

     NETWORKING, (SPI)RITUALS AND ANTI-EMBARGO 
 
 
      The attitude towards art as a particular kind of spiritual energy exchange, which existed before the appearance of modern avant-garde movements, and which can be found in theoretical and practical work of Andrej Tisma, a mid generation artist from Novi Sad, is embodied in his (artistic) shapes which stand as a unique phenomenon within our contemporary visual art and culture. 
      Following the traces of main conceptual art forms and being involved in visual poetry during the 1970-s Tisma started to do mail art. This artistic strategy was only a starting point in a path that led to some new possibilities for him. 
      Later on, he moved on from the artistic interventions on postcard and stamps towards communication by video and audio cassettes and computer inscriptions. This collective exchange of energy has brought the foundation of The Network, a world wide open system of communications that was defined by Tisma as "a spiritual sculpture which wraps up the whole planet". Artists' ideas circulate and meet within this global sculpture, establishing a new principle of selection, so that the most original ideas incredibly quickly and efficiently become the benefit of all the participants in communication. 
     Andrej Tisma has developed meet-art since the mid seventies which has transformed his multimedia activities. Since he considers that inspiration always vanishes to a certain degree when it becomes materialized, he gets more involved in projects that require direct with audience, and sometimes even their participation. The spiritual component of these artistic actions is stressed and he performs them under the name of (SPI)RITUALS. 
     Beside his recent performances in Belgrade and Milan, Tisma gave a lecture on his (SPI)RITUALS at L'INSTITUTE DES HAUTES ETUDES EN ARTS PLASTIQUES, Paris in 1990, after being invited by Pontus Hulten, who was the founder of the Modern Gallery in PARISIAN BEAUBOURG. In October 1992 Tisma presented these actions to audience in Seoul as well. During 1992 and 1993 he communicates within The Network sending his visual and textual works to his colleagues abroad in order to give them information about the situation in our culture under the sanctions. In September 1992 organizes "Anti-Embargo Networker Congress" in Sremski Karlovci. He continues this activity, especially after his recognition that his colleagues from all around the world are not fully aware of the consequences made by the sanctions, and their bad effect on our culture. Doing this Tisma not only widens formal horizons of art, but strengthens our tiny presence in the world cultural exchange today. 

      Svetislav Jovanov 

     (From the "Cage" magazine, Odzaci, October 1993) 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
     ON (SPI)RITUALS
               
 
 

       As the most convincing and most authoritative protagonist of immaterial art forms on the contemporary Yugoslav scene, but also as its outstanding theoretician, Andrej Tisma calls his art works "(spi)rituals" – rituals of the spiritual exchange, which means immaterial art intended to be perceived neither though senses (like beaux arts), nor through a mental process (like conceptual art). Instead, it was made for the human spirit, which is a great potential waiting to be awakened, and the author thus elicits at the same time the "material" he uses in his work, the spiritual energy. He considers it a resourceful substance that can be shaped, directed, spread, absorbed, etc, in order to reach an ultimate goal, which is inspiration, the pure sensation of enlightenment and purification, and the touch with the meaning of our existence, and that is the main target of every artwork. The artist has almost been forced to give shape to the "material" he has chosen by processes once used by shamans, artists of the ancient times, that is, through ritual acts which function directly, without any object serving as media, and in that way shorten the communication channel to a great extent. 
     Trying to awaken in people a consciousness of belonging to humankind and everyone's mutual dependence ("Love"), putting an accent on the right of individual freedom and equality of races ("Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite 1789-1989" and "Stigmatization"), on the relations between an individual on the one hand, and nature and social environment on the other ("Be Grateful Child to Mother Earth", "43 Cubic Meters of Love",  or "Tisma at Delifrance") or on relations of an individual to another individual ("Street Encounters" and "Spirit Control") as well as on his personal attitude toward centers of power ("Encounter in my Heart"), this artist creates a spiritual space which unifies and crystallizes emotions which are rather general and common than personal, and, in relation to the society, they are not a reflection of the world outside, even to a lesser extent are they an expression of the artist's own consciousness or feeling, but they are, in fact, first of all, catalysts of the collective consciousness. 
      By awakening spirituality in the field of his own existence in space and time, Andrej Tisma does not only confirm himself as an artist, but also brings to the surface or reality some categories of value buried deep inside every being, which have been - whether we are willing to admit it or not – suppressed through time. 

        Luka Salapura  

         (From "Sveske" magazine, no 23, Pancevo, 1995)


       The very spirit drives us to be highly creative beings when properly channeled into what we can receive from it. The artist Andrej Tisma seems to have, on many levels, awakened to this reality, and it's clearly on display through his visual art, his written words, and above all, his "Spi-Rituals." In using the very act of living as a form of artistic experiment and display, he has helped remind us that capturing the moment from this spiritual perspective is indeed the art of living with awareness.  
     I find very few people in my research who take what they do to a completely new level. Tisma has made a career of pushing the limits to wake up his audience, and the entire world. I was smiling in pleasant shock, when Tisma told me straight up, "this is a terrible idea to ever mix art with money." And he really does live by those words. This explains why his art is far beyond the confines of most contemporary work, and why he is constantly striving to fearlessly reach new heights of artistic expression.  
     Tisma does not see a separation in Art and Spirituality. He explains very pointedly, that inspiration, on any level, is a spiritual process, and that real art, does not manifest without this inspiration. I found this surprisingly similar to my Native American understandings of spirituality having no separation from existence itself. To walk the earth by day is a spiritual ritual in its own right. To draw energies from the five elements, to walk upon earth, to breath the air, to drink the water, to use the fire, and to manifest new ideas and emotions through spirit, is to live. And to live in this awareness of what fuels our life, is to walk with spirit. 
     Tisma clearly knows this, and his personal philosophies regarding this are permanently present in his works of art. His deeply rooted understanding of this living in spirit concept, rings clear, as he uses his Spi-Rituals to demonstrate the human experience as a spiritual work of art. And on that note, if there is one thing I might add, existence is a miracle in its truest form. The beauty of any Universal truth is that it remains calmly independent from all religions, laws, and the restrictions of any given paradigm throughout time. This universal truth that I refer to here is one that Tisma blatantly displays in his progressive works. Humanity is a precise reflection of the divine!

Dr. Joseph Kenneth, Metaphysician and Author

(The Light Body Travelers Society, 2016)

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


      NETWORKING,  PERFORMANCES  AND STAMPS 
 

       A keen observer of alternative art on an international level, it is instructive in witnessing the changes in the tone of Andrej Tisma's writings as his country is plunged deep into war, and an economic and cultural embargo imposed on his native Serbia by United Nations. Well traveled (New York, Paris, Stockholm, etc.), and in touch with the international network of postal artists, Tisma was suddenly forced to confront his peacetime position of universal brotherhood, international cooperation, and concerted group action, against a backdrop of increasing hostilities. 
     As Serb refugees flooded into Novi Sad from Bosnia and Croatia fresh from ravages of war, Tisma staged performances for peace and against the embargo on his country. His writings on the subject are penetrating observations on the status and persuasiveness of art in wartime conditions. In addition to his performances and writings, Tisma has created a strong series of carved erasers, which are used on his outgoing correspondence, expressing his life as an artist under cultural embargo and wartime conditions. 

 John Held, Jr. 

(Bibliozine #44, San Francisco, February 1996)

 

see also:

Andrej Tisma: Spiritual Sculptor by John Held, Jr. (Foreword to the catalog of Andrej Tisma's rubber-stamps exhibition, Stamp Art Gallery, San Francisco, 1996)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      
     RUBBER-STAMP ART 
 

     The impression of an art stamp, created and used by Andrej Tisma, is not only a carrier of artistic value. It is not even its primary character. Many of the stamps made by this artist carry short and concentrated messages of an engaged type, whether the engagement is of an artistic, social, ecological or political nature. 
      Obviously believing that a traditional artistic engagement implies a support of a certain system of governance and that, as such, it loses some of its value in the advancement of awareness, thus becoming a "political servant", Andrej Tisma strives, through provocation and introducing an individual into the art work through action, to take him out of a latent state of impotence. The final objective could be nothing but a "substitute of collective norm by true emancipation" (K. Thomas). 
     The priority in this form of artistic expression is given to the action of making the print of an art stamp. Without this action, the art stamp, at least the kind used by Andrej Tisma, would not have the necessary power that sets it toward the true emancipation of man as one of the most important characteristics of this work of art. 
      The place and context in which the art stamp is printed (the action is taken) tell about the importance of the implementation of the art stamp in the everyday life of man. It should be emphasized that Andrej Tisma never escaped to or took refuge in the autonomy of art. He always moved towards the essence of the problem, trying to influence the awareness of the trends in social development that lead us all, on a local and planetary level alike, to the Apocalypse. 
     Whether we observe Andrej Tisma as a painter, graphic artist. conceptualist, performer or an engaged artist, his art always insists on the awakening of spirituality rather than its exclusivity. 
     Never adopting the retrograde phenomena in the  modern  art  trends,   but rather consequentially following the avant-garde course (risking incomplete understanding and acceptance), Andrej Tisma - with his artistic existence - sounds a warning. Technological development and fast flowing information gradually push man from the center to the margin of life. Humanizing technology by his art and through the network, this artist also influences the humanizing of the civilization. This is exactly why the art stamp, as used by Tisma, is an important and great art. Especially when we bear in mind that the quality of all great art is just this feeling of the artists for their time. 


 
   Luka Salapura     

    (From the  PECArT  show catalog, Novi Sad, 1996)   
 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
        MAIL ART AND RUBBER-STAMPS 
 

          At the very beginning of mail-art communication, Andrej Tisma, a multimedia artist and critic, joined individual actions and organized them himself. As early as 1973, he appeared for the first time with the stamp as a method of multiplying messages in the above mentioned form of visual communication. Since then, through numerous actions, in the otherwise very dynamic world of mail-art, this author has become really well- known. Not only that: some of his messages have become cult messages (No ism! and some others). They have been reproduced in various forms of print, from textile to badges, stickers, etc., all over the world. He has exhibited his stamps, as multioriginal forms, countless times all over the planet. Recently, a retrospective exhibition of stamp prints was staged in the only gallery in the world that supports and presents this form of art - the San Francisco Stamp Art Gallery. 
         Let us just mention on this occasion some of the other networker acts of Andrej Tisma, such as Antiembargo Art or Fax HeART. Clearly, he is one of the few inhabitants of Novi Sad whose name is recognized in the ranks of visual arts on all continents. 

Slobodan Vilcek  


(“Nezavisni” Novi Sad, May 1996)

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   RUBBER-STAMP ART  
 

                  THE MAN PUTS HIS SIGNATURE ON EVERYTHING HE TOUCHES Ivan Cankar

      Design of personal communication, as well as the communication itself represents a timeless need of each person to reach out for friendship, for love to enlarge its own world and beat loneliness and isolation. And each and every try is deeply personal and carries the unmistakable signature of its author. 
     The "seals", the sigils of Andrej Tisma, simple, and witty, always carry the message of love, whatever the design of the mark, the seal. The need for a wider, sincere humane relationship, the constant contact over the seemingly wide spaces of land, desert and seas of our small derelict spaceship, EARTH. 
     And contrary to Marshall McLuhan's THE MEDIA IS THE MASSAGE, it's the message itself transformed into the seal squible and by magic, becomes media. By design, by intent. By the endless search for a better word, world of friends, not foes, a world where no man is the WOLF to another man. Because, as the twelfth century Grusian poet Shota Rastelli wrote ages ago:  "Who does not seek friends for himself, is his own enemy." 


 
Mirko J. Stojnic

(From the PECArT show catalog, Novi Sad, 1996)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

        RUBBER-STAMP ART 
 

          At the outset, it can easily be said of Tisma's stamps that they are a kind of sublimation. In other words, they reflect the entire scope of the artist's work as a performer and networker. He has transferred his most important performances and mail-art actions to the stamps, thus continuing to use their agonic energy from one medium to another. 
          By constantly doing intensive research work in various techniques and methods in a number of art forms, “humanizing technology” and insisting on the “awakening of spirituality”, Andrej Tisma has once again introduced himself as a planetary artist, who has already entered the third millennium with his innovative and inspiring work. 

Miroljub Todorovic 

(“Politika”, Belgrade, July 1997)
 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

  
        COMPUTER GRAPHICS 
 

          Andrej Tisma is an artist who has for a long time now employed technical achievements and means to serve the purposes of arts and artists, thus giving them a humane dimension. His most recent works have been created by the use of all the potentials offered by computers, scanners, black-and-white printers or state-of-the-art ink-jet color printers. 

           Following up on his previous works, but now relieved from having to cope with the limitations of the earlier technology, Tisma created a series of electro-collages and electro-graphics, which - thanks to the use of hi-tech products - became more communicable. 

           Promulgating his concept that art should not be exclusive, and actively working on the awakening of spirituality, Tisma endows his latest works with a recognizable mark, which is an answer to his own time and a constant protest and warning, on a local as well as global scale. It is not a visual quality one should look for in his works, but rather a message, an action which stimulates man's spirit to stir and make some constructive steps.                                                                                

Luka Salapura 

(Catalogue of the exhibition “Elektrografika”, Cultural center, Nis, October 1997) 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIGITAL PRINTS

 /EXCERPT/

Since the beginning of the seventies, Andrej Tisma has been a part of the Vojvodinian art scene in a distinct, alternative and nonexclusive way. This artist has expressed his engaged relationship towards everyday life by means that are, themselves, a product of the world and time which he lives and creates in.

Photographs are the main artifacts in his mail-art works, his Xeroxes and electro graphics, his video and computer web-art achievements. In keeping with the desired type of statement, Tisma utilizes photographs as documentary proof of a completed piece of work (actions, performances, records), as a creative gesture by which he expresses his own privacy and artistic personality (a series of Polaroids from the eighties), or he actualizes meaningful, engaging, at all times sarcastic and metaphorically rich conclusions about the current moment of humans of our time, by using found or scanned photographs.

To the article >

Sava Stepanov

("Archeology Of Privacy" essay from the catalog "In My Room", March 2005)


Andrej Tisma is, in many aspects, a conspicuous figure, not only in the Yugoslav photographic scene. His multimedia actions (that absorb, in the broadest sense of that word, the role of the photographic medium, which serves as a good basis for manifold creative actions), as well as, his theoretical thinking and critical work, secure him a very important role and even one of leading positions in the Serbian artistic scene.

Goran Malic


(From the essay “Contemporary Photo Scene in Serbia - A short summary of recent trends that characterize the end of XX century”, Cyberex, Belgrade, 2006)


 

The meanings of Andrej Tisma's works reside and resound in the contrast between the perfection of the advertising image and the reality in which we actually live. Mr. Tisma would like us to be aware that these images exist to convince us to alter our behaviour, i.e., to purchase something which we might not have previously considered purchasing. Or, perhaps, more subtly, to act as yet another in a virtually endless string of such images that, taken in total over our lives, goes a long way toward influencing our thought, and circumscribing the possibilities of our thinking.

The advertiser must create a mythology of sorts, a visual mythology of perfection attainable through the product.  Mr. Tisma undercuts that message by simply contrasting this false fable of fashion with the physical reality of the everyday, thus inserting a much-needed pin in the inflated bubble of our expectations.  The point of his pin seems to be the contrast between the projection of an ideal, timeless, perfect product for consumption, with the everyday reality of decay and imperfection in which we actually live.  Mr. Tisma’s collages thus lead us to discover interesting parallels between Platonic idealism and consumer advertising.

Mr. Tisma reminds us that decay and decomposition is inevitable.  Timeless perfection is a chimera, all we can know is transformation.

And, didn't we know this already anyway? Mr. Tisma's works are here to remind us.

John Byrum

("Pin in the Inflated Bubble of Expectations", Catalog essay "Mental Survival, London, 2006)


The theoretical and artistic activism of Andrej Tisma has been equally successful in finding its way among the ever-changing artistic styles and ideologies, where he was particularly perseverant in his creative endeavors to decipher the space surrounding the art scene. From the very beginning, when he imposed himself as an atypical and therefore important representative of mail art, an area of a fluid communication by way of art, his works have contained a peculiar re-directing towards a new quality of defining within a wide spectrum of manifest languages of the alternative and marginal cultural and artistic scene. Among others, the aim was to overcome the self-proclaimed authorities. In this way, his strategies carried out through the production of art works, which are following in the footsteps of the original mail art visions, mail art as the "peripheral" artistic activism, defy an institutionalized principles-free ban, deterrence, submission, oblivion, art which infringes upon the domain of information system.


Tisma's templates with gruesome and realistic photo-details inserted in glamorous billboards of Dior, Rothmans, Barbie doll, Citroen, Mitsubishi and others, as part of the series of prints "Transition: impossible", are not a "scandal of existence" but rather examples of a familiarity with the alphabet of the new montage and data processing.


Jasna Tijardovic

(Apropos the exhibition "Transition: impossible" of Andrej Tišma, New Moment Gallery, Belgrade, Radio Beograd III program, November 2006)


Ever since he wrote his first pieces of writing and ventured out of painting, Andrej Tisma has - in various media but persistently and consciously - been scratching visible faces and invisible matrixes of the world, testing the world's and his own moral rationale, poring - in an artistic way - on the reality as well as on its media prostheses in an effort to wake up his own and the Other consiousness on the level of artistic action. His are, therefore, the kinds of artistic performances which do not only count on their artistic completeness and whatever feedback may be born in the minds of the assumed audiences, but also - almost in a romantic way - count on a palpable consequential change in the order of the physical, biological, virtual and political body of the world which he touches and disolves with his incorruptible art-machinery.


On the contents and subject matter level, on the other hand, Tisma juggles dedicated brandomaniac and polit-mythomaniac cults of the global day-to-day world, emptying their auras or filling them with acrid indications of his personal, often incidental counter-perceptions.


In short, the mellow countenance and visually polished techno-prints of our artist are concealing one of the world most consistent art commentators and opponents of the post-Debordian "Society of the Spectacle" and its globalistic political extensions. His minimalistically brilliant directness in expression has already won, if not the final, victorious result in the struggle with whatever he had undertaken to fight, then at any rate a high position and a secure place in the world of museums and galleries as temples served by the public servants of the same "Society of the Spectacle".

Vladimir Kopicl


(Foreword to the Catalogue of Andrej Tisma's exhibition "Transition: Impossible", Pancevo, February 2007)


In the already mentioned situation of the diversity of expression in contemporary art, Tisma decided to observe the reflections of the "physical" globalism in the "virtual" - as the ideal globalism, in which the value of an individual is verified through communication, rather than through interest. That self-assigned role of a creative commentator of the phenomena and events from the "real" world in the "virtual" space enables him to accept information and facts and to contextualize them, just as Noam Chomsky does through his books in the "real" world.


The continuation of his mission is in Tisma's works in the new series, "Civilized beheading". In this series, he asks the question: does the advancement of civilized society have any sense if it brings about the destruction of individual cultures (like the Incas and Mayas) or assimilation into another/different system of values (like what happened to American Indians, Yanomami people, Aboriginies). In this way, Tisma tries to attract the attention of the globalized world to a forgotten dimension - ethics.

Sava Ristovic

(Preface to the catalogue of Andrej Tisma's "Civilized beheading", The "Nova" gallery, Novi Sad, June 2007)


Thanks to the worldwide development of mail-art, followed by net-art, Andrej Tisma devoted himself to art as communication and his visual works, with their attitudes and ideas, are available to recipients at any place in the world. It is enough to visit one of his websites to become a participant in world happenings, through the language of Tisma's art.


The form in which Tisma expresses himself is for him a mere tool, not a goal. With his works, as he says, he endeavors above all, to influence the consciousness of the recipients. Tisma, in every sense, tries with his oppulent symbolism, in a metaphorical synthetic unity of the picture, word and sound, to emphasize the problems of the contemporary world and humanity, who has found itself in a labyrinth of hidden meanings of contrasting mirrors. To find that hidden meaning, which, through ideological machinery misleads people and takes them away from their primeveal spiritual being, their cultural identity, this is what Tisma wants to point to with his artistic perception. The return to spiritual values, the return of humanity to its own self - is only possible if we become aware of the fact that it is all just a game which overshadows us with its ideological robe, destroying the picture of our value.


Through multi-layered dimensions of his works, Andrej Tisma makes us aware of the current and future ways of globalization, while at the same time, points to the reverse hiding under the advertisments' propaganda, under "humanitarian" actions of the "advocates of world peace" and "prophets of the general prosperity".


Independent of what new goals and directions technical civilization may put before us, Tisma's awareness-building and reminders of the existence of our spiritual dimensions in the time of decadence, continuing into the 21st century - this becomes extremely important for the audiences in our country as well.

Valentina Cizmar

(Magazine "Sveske", no. 88, Pancevo, June 2008)


The works of Andrej Tisma "Food in Context" in their subject matter and various paraphrases show the world and criticize consumerism and transience with a demand: "Art must have consequences"! In art, the world becomes transparent only if a work of art - so to speak - consumes it and if it touches or even hurts both the artist and us as observers.


This is exactly what is being initiated by these works, which - in addition to a social feature - deal with transience as well. Andrej Tisma presents foodstuffs, food on decorated plates, dialectically as a product of culture as well as a transient matter which is - with all its aesthetic features - from the very beginning intended to perish, so to say destined to end up in a waste container, together with 90 million tons of food stuffs which are, only in the European Union, annually thrown away as garbage.


In cultural and historical comparison, Andrej Tisma with his works follows the line of the transience motifs (Vanitas), which have ever since the Renaissance placed on the top the conflict between man's humility and man's ego - and here I would like to remind you of the great still lives with fruits full of symbolics, dead animals and kitchen utensils, but also of the 20th century Picasso's abstractions of objects and Warhol's presentations of worthless objects such as the famous can.
Iconography has changed significantly since the Renaissance, but the basic definition has remained and, through the social context in the artistic provocation of Andrej Tisma, it has gained a new dimension. In his works, he aims at an intellectual climate, at social responsibility and warns on the intricate relationship between the freedom of an individual and the economic and social determinants. He places this connection into the focus of his artistic research and, in this way, with all the crashes, a tie between aesthetics and morality can be determined.


In these images we can experience targeted provocation aimed at reflection, and it holds true for both video works presented at the exhibition. The first one, "Friendly Talk", was born in a context with prints: photos of foodstuffs as excerpts from advertisements, news and magazines Tisma brings in an ingenious way in alliance with the present, that is with wars, environment pollution and sickness - conveying a message that for him decomposition - disintegration of foodstuffs reflects the disintegration of civilization.


The other video, "Bodies and Objects", let me find an appropriate word, is shockingly brutal. It is a reflection upon life and death, slaughtering of animals related to man's feeding and - as Andrej Tisma says - upon the relativity of the condition of life and death; on the shortness of our life in the context of transience and transition from one status to another - and again in relation to the slaughtering of animals, often only to provide a brutal benefit for others.


Erwin Miedtke


(Deputy Director of the City Library of Bremen, at "Food In Context" show opening, Bremen, September 2011
)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIDEO

 /EXCERPT/

Andrej Tisma, one of the leading international contemporary artists, works with a variety of artistic media including video art. The main characteristic of his videos is that they are short and, when seen together, explicitly complex.

Contemporary society and changes in the modern world clearly affect his sensibility and manner of artistic expression. Political and social environments, war, social misery, the changing of social systems, disease, and total chaos of the "new order” have clearly made a marked impression on his video work. The United States, as the global superpower in this “new world order”,  has had a strong influence on Tisma’s videos, and he reacts through them in a spirited style. He depicts with realistic detail, the situation of individuals in the world which are induced by the will of the mightiest.

To the article>

Biljana Mickov

( From the essay "The Satire of Media Lies", 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEB.ART 

/EXCERPTS/

Tisma's work acts as a constructive protest, a creative healing process to both the lives of individuals and the sour relations cultivated between rulers and the ruled. 
His work sets a positive example of how communication and creativity provide the means to comment on ones position in the world. 
 Within these web works the user is an active component reading and untangling the web specific languages whilst watching Tisma's ideas and beliefs unfold. Questions are raised concerning the users own opinions, confronting and challenging their position. In combining language with structure and ideas Tisma has ensured a successful artwork whereby the viewer leaves the piece but retains the message and purpose of it. In this case the ethical principles, an awareness of ones circumstances and the ability to engage with ones social and political environment.                                                                                   To the article >                    

Daniel Stringer  

( "Ecological Ethics: Politics and communication in A Tisma's Web.Art", August 2001)


      While the conflict of the former Yugoslavia has made its presence felt on the Internet, it has also led to some  creative artistic endeavors. During the threat of NATO bombing, for instance, artist Andrej Tisma organized an Internet contest for the "humanitarian bombing of Serbia" in which contestants contributed bomb designs.  The winner was awarded with a set of Monica Lewinsky's lips.      

    John Horvath

("Beating Breasts", Heise, Germany, November 7, 1998)  



 
    Andrej Tisma is another virtual friend of mine and we work on couple of web projects together. He is a funny and clever man who can reflect the bitter happy soul of the Balkans. He never lost his sense of 
humor even in war, under the air raid. 
                 

  Genco Gulan

( "Short Notices about web sites and some useful stuff", NY Arts Magazine, New York, USA, March 2000)


 
   Andrej Tisma of Yugoslavia presents "Famous US Products," which connect US-based multinational corporations such as McDonald's and Coca-Cola with US military adverturism. "American Toys": fictitious toys combine US pop culture with weaponry. His "USA Questionnaire"  puts US military action in historical context, referencing Iraq and Vietnam, and repression of Native Americans. Questionnaire places blame on Madeleine Albright and proposes that she be exterminated. In "Glorious Victory," Andrej Tisma juxtaposes soft pornography with missiles and bombs. 


 
Trebor Scholz

(Carnival in the Eye of the Storm War / Art / New Technologies: KOSOV@ 
April 2000)



 
    These days I had the chance to see Andrej Tisma' s newest work, "Adult Censored Pics". It is brilliant, as his works usually are. Maybe some will hurry to call it controversial, but I would say it is just realistic and brave. We have passed now the times when "the public opinion" was so easily shocked by any attempt of breaking some decency-laws, artificially imposed. This is what I think the art should do nowadays: to challenge, to break, to destroy prejudices and taboos, to open minds, to  tell and reveal things that might be hidden. 
   I intended to place in the end of this short letter a final warning, something like " if you are hypocrite and  easy to be offended do NOT go to see the work". But then my thought changed and I say now exactly the 
opposite: if you are hypocrite and easy to be offended DO go and see the work. Maybe it will change something in you. 


 
Laura Duta   

("Adult Censored Pics, or the Censorship as a Weapon" 
Stop NATO list,  April 15, 2000)

     

    The United States may not realize up to what extent its image as an imperial power has developed around the world. One of the most alarming pieces inspired by Anti-Americanism that I have experienced online is Andrej Tisma's "American Art School", which consists of a series of photo-stills presenting U.S. American soldiers destroying images of Saddam Hussein. The net project appropriates the photos in order to present U.S. soldiers as conquerors rather than saviors of Iraq.The war with Iraq is obviously a very delicate matter, which consists of so many variables that it would be impossible for me to write a just analysis in this short review. But, one thing that can be sensed in many net projects that spurred around the web as the war with Iraq developed is a sense of anger combined with fear of what a super-power could do around the world. This is the image that the U.S. now has to demistify, and this may prove to be a bigger battle than any other fought up to this point. Andrej Tisma's "American Art School" exposes the ideological global crisis the U.S. faces. Tisma's piece does demonize the United States; and while such extremism exhausts any criticism from Tisma's work, what should be noted is its alarming message: that the U.S. is dealing with a much bigger problem than finding weapons of mass destruction.

    Eduardo Navas

    (Netartreview, June 19, 2003)

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIGITAL AND INTERNET ART


As early as in his works dating back to the late 1970's and early 1980's, Andrej Tisma presaged that he would cultivate his own distinctive form of expression. Namely, his works - both those preceeding the mid-1990's, when he accepted the computer and the internet as means and space, and those that followed - point to an author who is very sensitive to the time in which he creates, but at the same time searches for his own proprietary forms of expression within the accepted rules of the arts. At the beginning, those were photographs, postcards and stamps. During the 1980's he was totally devoted to art as communication, creating a unique mail-art project in this region.


Starting in the mid-1990' he introduced into his creative work the computer and the internet, which, on one hand helped him to communicate, and which on the other hand he used as creative tools and, thirdly, they became a new space in which he moved.


This is why we can say that the work of Andrej Tisma is a stand-alone phenomenon in the Serbian art which could occasionally baffle even experienced professionals.


What is characteristic of Tisma's recent production is the fact that he still understands art as a part of communication process. Like a modern virtual nomad, he roams the world and communicates with the entire world while sitting in his room. And the other way round: the whole world flows into Tisma's field of artistic perception through his computer monitor. Since communication is global and momentary, Tisma's works of art respect these principles and this is why his form is short and compressed and he uses generally familiar and recognizable presentations with all their symbols, while his response technique to global impulses is the collage principle in building up his work of art.


Sava Ristovic
(Radio Belgrade 2, "Znakovi", April 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANDREJ TISMA'S SOUND WORKS

/EXCERPTS/


Andrej Tisma wisely calls this kind of his work "Sound Works", because it is hard to classify them according to the usual categories of the art of music, even including electro-acoustic and computer music. In the beginning, the "sound works" were mostly components of syncretic entities (video-art, web.art, performance). Once extracted from this context - as we have seen - they live their audio-lives, for which the most appropriate media are just the radio and sound carriers. It is interesting to note that independent as they have become the sound works of Andrej Tisma keep the main characteristics of his multimedia works: collage, quotations, mystification, intervention, "unusualizing", and, above all - engagement.

Tisma utilizes instant sounds from the rich computer audio-palette, sound base of popular video games, rhythm machine, recordings (from Bach to turbo-folk, techno music and Esma Redzepova), blending them into an integral whole, with good measure and taste.

The author focuses on "short forms", therefore he is more up-to-date and closer to the sensibility of the contemporary listener. In these works, like in Tisma's other creations, one cannot fail but notice his engagement before all against war, against globalization, violent behaviour, militarization, trash, kitsch and self-advertising. Sound collages are socially engaged and just for this purpose stripped, unadorned - advertising sounds, military orders from video games or rhythm machine have an even more forceful, violent and aggressive impact.

Dusan Mihalek

("Polja", 9-10. Novi Sad, September 2007)


The sound works of Andrej Tisma have been positioned as an elaborated auditive image of the author's idea that engagement in the arts can be embodied, not as art value as such, but rather as a clearly directed effect of perlocutional performance. This, in turn, according to Austin's analysis, would mean that his artistic act in fact does not only strive towards some change in the otherwise variable pattern of the art system, but that it most seriously counts on the consequences which are equally both beyond aesthetics, but also effectual in an all-encompassing planetary ambiance.

The first association of a relatively well-educated listener to Tisma's sound work most frequently leads to an exorcist reminder of a paradigmatic album of the 1980's - My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by David Byrne and Brian Eno, a cultic example of extatic sampling, of which some people thought that it was a small technical revolution in production, whilst the album, according to subsequent testimony of Brian Eno, was supposed to express the contemporary world in minimalist terms through newly recomposed, polyrhythmic unatainable "dark heart of Africa" freed from casual singleminded ethno melodies. That chaotic internal component of the old sound is a clear derivative of this new, Tisma's sound, particularly in its semantically legible, linguistic component, which expresses and ironically exposes the forceful shadows of the current aggressive wing of the civilization which exhausts itself in attempting to found a globalistic monoculture and economic exploitation-based mega machinery which effuses and imposes only a weakening rhythm of proclamatory progress while eliminating all other differences with the symbolic polyphonous murmur of "Africa", i.e. the unaccustomed Other in front. Or on the floor.

In the Dictionary of Electro-acoustic Music complied by its Serbian pioneer Vladan Radovanovic, the entry "Electro-acoustic music" reads as follows: Introduced as a medium - a world of new sounds and set of techniques - rose to the status of a style, due to limitations and specific features on all levels, and finally - with multiple increase of realizational powers - almost lost its stylistic characteristics now to become a medium of all styles. Something similar could be said about this para-cockpit refraction of voices, harmonies, styles, messages and even linguistic, ethnic and ethic fractures and crossings which are not Tisma's goals, but which are used and sampled by him. Except that in this sense a medium and its capacity might rather imply a good spirit or rebelious will of the artist himself than any kind of media or artistic interface, even if it were both music and the baby brother of the hoe - the computer.

Vladimir Kopicl

"Izba" Club, Novi Sad, September 2007



One of the most prominent figures of the Novi Sad alternative scene, Andrej Tisma has throughout his activities tirelessly, inventively and with curiosity researched into the modes of expression of various fields of artistic practice, from literature to new multimedial art forms, such as performances, printed multiplied artefacts, e.g. rubber-stamps, but also digital art and web-art. In doing so, he has always been in the ranks of the most topical and leading creative personalities and theoreticians in the new and alternative artistic circles. This is why his new preoccupation with digitally created tonal and sound collages, facilitated in the recent years by the head-spinning development of computer technology, looks totally logical and natural.
Straightforward and direct artistic engagement is the key element of Tisma's sound works, the basis of which is made up of heavy, rolling and yapping repetitive machinery rhythms, juxtaposed in a collage to samples of sounds and voices of human talk, exclamations, laughter, melodies of the Guca trumpet players or contorted melismas of Arab songs - all of this creating a fantasmagorical tonal web, stirring and chaotic at the same time, like an auditive reflection of the similarly chaotic life of today.

Tisma's sound works, the titles of which - "Peace Mission", "Power Station Destroyed", "Friendly Fire" or "German Picnic In The Balkans" - truly reflect the author's clear and direct engagement. His works, sometimes frightening, sometimes consciously childish, and at other times self-ironic, have been created as an expression of protest against contemporary global phenomena: globalization, militarism, hipocrisy of world politics, dehumanisation and self-advertising. They have been shaped as straight, naked and violent statements, so that listening to these sound works of Tisma's, accompanied by adequate video projections, do not leave indifferent anybody in the audience.


Borislav Hlozan


"Dnevnik", Novi Sad, 4.7.2008.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 YEARS OF ANDREJ TISMA'S ART OVERVIEWS

During four decades of artistic engagement, regular production, collective and solo exhibitions, Andrej Tisma passed through several phases of artistic expression and applied techniques and his art could be regarded as a sort of sublimation of the general movement in contemporary artistic practice. Just a cursory glance at lists of Tisma's exhibitions, catalogs, performances, books and publications in the fields of visual art, poetry and prose, or a simple Google search of his name, shows an author of great human and creative potential, who uses every opportunity to show his artistic, visual and social engagement and attitude, defining himself as a modern artist who corresponds with his time and environment.


Constantly developing and changing his artistic approach, from the early and brief period of traditional paintings, to photography and visual poetry, performance art and the especially rich phase of mail art, and then to video and internet art, the creation of original music and the wider notion of electronic art, and all of that followed by art criticism and curatorial work are just some of the expressions of art techniques and media in which Tisma worked over the last four decades. Part of his oeuvre makes him a 'child of media art' as Tisma develops together with his time, always using modern technologies (media) in his work.


Communication is certainly an underlying theme of his art, already present in his early works. Other concepts were to follow - social engagement, anti-globalism, sustainability, focus on human relations, advertising and branding. A common thread in Tisma's activity is constant innovation in the use of new media and an emphatically ethical and humanistic dimension to the topics of his work.
In a specific, personal way, Tisma's work sublimates the activities of an international, socially engaged artist: first during the era of self-management socialism and then in the isolation his country was in during the 1990s, and today in the general state of globalisation and internet world and culture in which a thousand flowers bloom. The last decade of the twentieth century was painful for countries that were not part of the Western capitalist system and especially turbulent for us in the Balkans, and it was an additional impetus to Tisma's work. As an early adopter, Tisma uses the new medium of the internet to react upon this social reality. Theoretically and practically, Tisma is among the first artists, domestic or global, to embrace the new era of internet art.

Vladimir Mitrovic

(Catalog of Andrej Tisma's retrospective exhibition, Novi Sad, November 2013)


When I talk about the artistic activities of Andrej Tisma, I actually talk about a whole set of phenomena. What characterizes him is - in the early 70's - his interest in the rise of a new form of art, in the establishment of a new approach in art in which the most important element is actually the communication between the artist, his recipient, the assumed audience and a very broad planetary layer of all that can be the subject of the language of art and the aim of art's speech. This is why he became interested in the new forms of art, from the rather unusual concrete and visual poetry, over a whole range of works such as mail-art, other forms of digital and various forms of communication in the artistic space, to the works we encounter in his mature stage of creative work, the beginning of which I place in the early 2000's. It is in these works that Tisma shows a marked interest in bonding of what we can call his view of the world and a commentary of that world with a possible address directly to people and his audience, through very concrete, apparent and precise engagement, all in keeping with his well-known poetic motto which is very simple but has more meanings than one: "I am a man, man as species". His art explains to us in a concise way that Tisma is an artist of a classical humanistic interest, fighting for the humanistic values and doing this in a paradoxical way - using the very technology which questions to some extent our perception of humans, which in fact tries to place humans in the background, whilst juxtaposing itself. And this makes Tisma's creative work very important.

If we look at it from a viewpoint of topics, it is very clear. This engaged artist of ours in fact studies both the most unusual and the most common faces of the world which is being globalized, taking somehow a uniform, unified course which is expected and required. His attitude is aligned with the resistance to this uniformity. He is trying to demystify and to criticize those uniform faces of the world.

When he does this on the level of digital prints, and he has been focusing on it very much in the recent years in the series called "In my room", "Transition: impossible" and "Screen Layers", he juxtaposes various iconic images of the world of spectacle in which we live today with what is the most intimately human. In other words, he puts face to face those images of the public world, various brandomaniacal forms, icons of the modern world, from the world of fashion, politics, human tragedy or individual fates, with what is his own intimate fate. In this way, he opens up a dialogue between the space within his intimate and artistic and that of the public space. And he usually does this in forms which are pure, totally transparent, but not carrying one meaning only.

In addition to this, typical of Tisma, if he uses digital prints or as a web artist uses his computer in many ways, he does not do so in a high-tech manner in which the use of the technology would be dominant. On the contrary, he uses technology as almost a classical art tool which is serving the idea and communication. It is as if he had a kind of naive belief, which to my mind is not naive, that in doing so, as Austin - logician and philosopher - used to talk about perlocutive performative, he could bring about some concrete effect in this world. This is, therefore, his basic mission, he is an artist with a mission.


Vladimir Kopicl

(Catalog of Andrej Tisma's retrospective exhibition, Novi Sad, November 2013)


Andrej Tisma can be talked about in several ways, but one of them is basic - the way which starts from the premise that he is an artist who has for forty years persisted in a particular way, the way of the avant-garde, more precisely neo-avant-garde. It all started in 1972-1973 and has been going on to this day. It has been forty years of Tisma's passionate belonging to a movement encompassing a multitude of ideas and attitudes. He started his artistic adventure with a series of stamps, or - somewhat earlier - a series of photographs. But those were not photographs from a family album. Those were photographs of real events which, when placed in a context, acquire a different meaning. At the same time, from 1973, his first stamps started appearing.


A stamp can be interpreted in a formal sense as a form of graphic art, more precisely - alternative graphic art. In this case, it has a different meaning - that of denoting something. With these stamps, Tisma marked his entire future path. It was a way to mark an attitude: wherever I am - it is art. It is the basic characteristic of the entire neo-avant-garde. Tisma would place a stamp on someone's head, someone's hand, on a chair, table, mailbox, letter... and here I have in mind his mail-art works - it was all art.


In the first decades of his work, the 70s and the 80s of the last century, Tisma was very radical. He was an advocate of the so-called second line, or more precisely, as professor Denegri used to say, the "first-person-singular speech". But he did not emphasize his "I"; he was looking for the "I" in the others, he was establishing communication. In this form of art, if there is no communication - there is no art. Tisma knows that as well, and this is why he has been doing this to this very day. In addition, there are his performances and the other forms related to these radical changes.


The familiarization with the computer potential, digital techniques and echnologies has changed things to some extent. Tisma, trained as an academic painter, goes back to the world of image: to the image as the supreme ensation of a visual experience or a visual cognizance of the world. This is best manifested through photography, which - thanks to the computer and other methods, acquires all its various transformations and different meanings. This series of works, from that, let us say - second period, connects to his massive and good experience in mail-art - on the one hand, and on the other, here are the other forms of art: video art, web art and electronic graphic art. The basis of all is the photography, altered by way of computer techniques and, thanks to the world network, has better communicability.


Tisma is known as an engaged artist. However, I would not say that he is only engaged in that narrow sense of the word, he is an active artist. An active artist who, before all, offers an experience, but requires from us, as imaginary observers or participants in this artistic play of his, much more than that: requires that we should re-examine the experience. In other words, he wants us to contemplate, think over, think through and interpret the things we experience. He proposes a numebr of topics, motifs, and simply says "this is it". He exercises this first-person-singular speech and says: here we have the aggression of pornography, the aggression of advertisements, then aggression in the real sense: the war in the Iraq, bombardment of Serbia. These are all series of his works of graphic art, bearing those very titles. He wants us to ask questions, his art is questioning. It is not that he is just engaged in telling us that this world is not ideal, but rather in his leading us to our own conclusion that this world is not exactly made to our measure. It is all interwoven and strongly emphasized in Tisma's work and can be interpreted in different ways. The interpretation depends on one's skills and abilities, as well as on the capacity to see and look at what he has been offering to us so steadily over the past forty years.


Milos Arsic

(Catalog of Andrej Tisma's retrospective exhibition, Novi Sad, November 2013)


My collaboration with Andrej Tisma is long-standing. I remember his solo exhibition soon after his return from the Prague academy in 1976. Already then I saw works in his apartment which were closer to conceptual art than to any traditional drawing or painting. From then on, till today, Tisma has been continuously developing a relationship in which his art has been authentically engaged. Whatever medium he is using, Tisma comes up with a personal attitude and takes a standpoint in relation to the events in the world and the time he lives in. Our collaboration was the most intense around his works in the 90s and after 2000. Those were the works of an already mature artist who reacts to the events with a sincere artistic passion, but in a rational way, reacting to the world events and using the so-called new media in order to explain what makes his attitude and his critical judgment. Tisma is not one of those who simply document what they experience and what they see. He regularly expresses his attitude. And it is regularly a critical stance towards a phenomenon which at that moment, when he deals with it, dominates the world scene or the everyday environment in which we live and struggle through. His work "Collateral damage" is unforgettable, and it is one of the most powerful experiences in my career as a critic. In 2001, we were working on an exhibition called "The fatal 90's". My part of the exhibition was in the Sremska Kamenica palace and Tisma was one of the selected authors. He exhibited a series of seventeen prints showing the capitals of the NATO countries as they would look if they had been bombarded. After the opening, we went to a reception at a restaurant and there we watched live the 9/11 event - the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers in New York. What Tisma had anticipated somehow proved to be true the very day the exhibition was opened. Actually, a total anticipation of the sequence of events on a global scale was possible and proved to be true in his art.


To my mind, Tisma is our most significant artist who dealt with the problems of transition and who understood the transition in a completely intimate, totally human, personal way. This is why I exhibited these works of his wherever I could and wherever I exhibited them I was extremely proud and pleased, because the audiences reacted to them in a human way. For conceptual art, I think it indicates a special sensibility.
At this point, I think Tisma is an artist in his full creative maturity and every new result coming out of his art studio makes me happy.

Sava Stepanov

(Catalog of Andrej Tisma's retrospective exhibition, Novi Sad, November 2013)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WAR ISSUES IN THE ART OF ANDREJ TISMA

/EXCERPT/

The experience of the war phenomenon in Tišma's works appears in a number of series - be it through criticism, irony, direct denunciation or in scenarios which expose the consequences of this phenomenon in the contemporary world. One can say that he "documents" the history of wars and their dialectic movements in a visual way, and, starting from them, proceeds to show a certain creation of history as it is actually being enacted today, because wars are often followed by a new era in world history, as Goethe's astute genius noted. Out of the (spi)rituals or art performances, which Tišma made during the wars in former Yugoslavia with an aim to invoke peace through spiritual activity (calming down aggression, hate and destruction), he created graphics series dedicated to the above mentioned activities. This form of immaterial art named spi(ritual) - the name was forged by Tišma himself in 1990 - is a form of ritual, the goal of which is spiritual exchange and raising peace-loving aspirations among people.


Tišma's art queries various forms of militarism and - behind rosy pictures made by advertizing agencies and world peace mottos and other slogans, in "humanitarian" intentions of the world powers - discovers a black hole of human suffering in historical cycles. This is why in his works we encounter cruelty which is sometimes difficult to follow. But this cruelty is no less an area of human reality than the set-up of human society or the world order.


Andrej Tišma exposes multilayered dimensions of the destructive nature of war - economic, psychological (with the deep traces war leaves on human consciousness), health, ecological. His series ironically titled "Civilized beheading" actually lays bare the fact that what happens in contemporary reality in Kosovo and Metohija is the beheading/dislocation/destruction/minorization of a nation, in a civilized and perfiduous way. Moreover, the Serbian part of the population is compared with American Indians, who were put away, as a species, to live in reservations, and a warning is sounded as to what possible scenarios are looming over a small nation, in an era of frictions between globalistic interest of the powers.


The destructive nature of mankind is exhibited to the maximum in the logic of a forceful annihilation of life, from material devastation and prevention of development of certain countries or taking people's lives, as Tišma showed in his works devoted to the war in Iraq, his criticism of German Nazi interventions in different parts of the world during World War II and their anti-semitism, to NATO bombardment of Serbia (see: video works Ode to Barbarism, Loss of Inocence) and the criticism of American "patriotism" and in other works. In his works, he exhibits the destructive power of war through various techniques (see his video work: Get Those Bastards) and methods of warfare (punishment, torture, harrassment) in different historical periods, including the cold war, and uncovers messages with ideological roots of wars, i.e. points to the political, religious and economic background of wars.


Tišma throws light on all kinds of war phenomena and their forms, among them on the information and media wars in the era of the developed information technologies all over the world. He himself uses media collages and information in order to bring closer the essence of a possible "media manipulation", to show the way certain events are presented and to point to the other side of the media which unmask the real state of the affairs (see his work: Advertising Mental Survival). In this way, he endeavors to bring the recipient's consciousness close to the truth itself.


Tišma realized the unethical nature of war through the economic intentions of the USA which powerfully rocks the rest of the world (as the Roman Empire once did) - either through their search for raw materials, by creating consummer societies, purposeful empoverishment of certain countries or by spreading militaristic zeal for invasion, led by the logic of "divide and conquer". In his works, Tišma openly criticizes the utilitarian aspect of American politics, depicting it through various forms of terroristic use of power over other parts of the world, emphasizing also its efforts aimed at bringing down the identities and cultures of certain countries. The aftereffects of the non-humanist side of politics were realistically shown in Tišma's scenes of suffering, tortures, deaths as well as in scenes of already dead innocent victims (see video work: Herzlich Totenkopf Kantate). In his works, one can hear human screams, sound of detonations, one can see man's reconciliation with death and the affliction of war, but in some works there is even a glimpse of hope for life and, on the other hand, a spiteful superiority of those who control the execution of crimes. In his video work History of War, through the pictures of camps, war and explosions of bombs thrown on Hiroshima, he portrays attrocities committed on the victims, he inserts sounds of hot line conversations carried on by some German girls, suggesting a similarity of wars to a form of prostitution or immoral trade.


Tišma also draws analogies and parallels between certain events in history pointing to the principle of feedback effect, which is well supported by his work in which pictures of the events of September 11, 2001 when the USA, more precisely New York, suffered the feedback effect of their own politics, through the attack by Al-Qaeda (see video work: Fire Alarm).


Under the everyday seemingly trivial events in social reality, Tišma also creates a new picture, disclosing a hidden message of ostensible humanism, indicating the ways used to degrade man's dignity, to divest him of spirituality, to destroy him and even to break up the harmony of the processes in nature, which are indispensable for man's health and survival as a species. As an artist, he bears witness to the contemporary reality, but also to past times, thus contributing to a general social activism. Even though he often bears witness to the world as shown on TV and in other means of information, he perceives it as his own reality into which he has been thrown (see video work: In my room) and which does not leave him detached.


As a pacifist, Tišma counterposes the philosophy of war to the philosophy of peace, understanding peace as something more than an absence of war. Peace, among other things, is for him a spiritual category the power of which he tried to express in one of his performances, namely in his art (spi)ritual called Tower of Angels. The tower is shown not as a real structure of brick and mortar, but rather as a structure of spirit designed to accept and unify all good beings who strive for peace, well-being, harmony, love and the victory of good over evil, which would make it a bastion against everything that ravages the integrity of a state, stability and freedom, i.e. stands as a symbol of peace which will transform war, any form of aggression and intolerance into a desired state of peace.


What Andrej Tišma testifies to in his works may become clearer from the work of the linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky "What Uncle Sam Really Wants", which in a fierce criticism describes American military interventions in the third world countries, especially directed at Latin American countries, but these analyses of the background of the interventions may be applied to all the other countries tackled by the US foreign policy. Thus in an interview included in his book "9 -11" Chomsky noted that America often failed to use the term "war" and goes to such extremes as to talk about a "humanitarian intervention" in Kosovo, for example, in order to remove the obviousness of those intentions as far as possible from any association with terrorism, arguing that such interventions were "forms of coercive diplomacy". Essentially, Tišma is well aware of what Chomsky pointed out many times, as well as in his interview "The Ideological Campaign" referring to the American government, which endeavors to impose on the world its plans such as: "the militarization of space; undermining social democratic programs; also undermining concerns over the harsh effects of corporate "globalization," or environmental issues, or health insurance, (...); "instituting measures that will intensify the transfer of wealth to the very few" (Noam Chomsky, 9 -11, 2001, p. 10)


Fully aware of the diverse aspects of war issues, Andrej Tišma enables each recipient and consummer of his art to directly feel and experience this thread of tragedy and human destiny. In consonance with the aspects he illuminates in his visual art, related to the "documentation" of war issues, this artist can be called "the Serbian Chomsky", who reveals artistic intentions towards an all-encompassing philosophy of peace in the whole world. In his art criticism directed against homogenization and forceful acts committed by the great powers, while driven by a concern over the consequences of the inhumane forms of foreign policies in his home region, Tišma occupies a notable place in dealing with war issues within the contemporary art in Serbia.

Valentina Cizmar, M.A.

(From the essay "War Issues in the Art of Andrej Tišma: the World Between the Philosophy of War and the Philosophy of Peace", "Dometi" No. 160-161, Sombor, 2015.)

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