Juxtaposing traditional Serbian singer Svetlana Spajić’s (b. 1971) collaborations with village elders in the former Yugoslavia with her collaborative projects with contemporary performance artist Marina Abramović and theatre director Robert Wilson reveals the inter-aesthetic consequences of colliding economic models of art-making. In 2011, Spajić stood on a raised platform singing traditional Serbian music during Abramović’s “An Artist’s Life Manifesto” controversial gala party at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, tickets for which cost between $2,500 and $10,000. Placing this performance event into context with the development of the contemporary (read: urban, universalizing, present) and the traditional (read: rural, local, past) as artistic paradigms in the former Yugoslav region since the turn of the twentieth century, Spajić—neither a village artist nor recognized as a contemporary artist—complicates discourses of contemporaneity, collaboration, and the economics of performance.

Between Folk and Contemporary: Collaboration as an Economic Paradigm in Post-Yugoslav Art

Presented at the 2018 ASEEES Convention.



Backwards scholar, utilitarian artist.
Beograd, Oakland, and Los Angeles