In Growing up Amid the Historical Mysteries of Proximity

Pros & Cons of Being Neighbours


ITS-Z1, Ritopek, Belgrade

16 June - 21 July 2012. Opening on 16 June, 18h. |

Dragan Ilić

Dragan Ilić, Serbian - Australian - American artist, lives and works in New York and Belgrade. In the forty-five years of Ilić's art practice he has been investigating the balance between help and hinderance in the technologies of artistic production. In his performances and installations of the seventies and early eighties, Ilić began using fistfulls of pencils thrown at walls, at himself, bundled together, clamped, or fastened to drills.

As his work developed through the eighties and nineties, Ilić created increasingly complex tools in response to advancements in technology. These tools incorporated a range of mark-making materials from pencils to poured paint to lasers, working over surfaces including paper, canvas, and metals. His interest in creating a symbiosis between humans and technology led him to extend the body through video projections and robotic machines which began as simple movable platforms and evolved into robotic devices that could be controlled remotely by the artist or by the participating audience.

In his exhibition at the Experimental Film/Video Festival, Tokyo in 1988, inspired by investigations in contemporary physics of the multiverse, Ilić drew on paper with amplified sound, simultaneously projecting images onto moving balloons while performing in specially constructed simulated "virtual reality" suit with attached T.V. Helmet. Ilić's work combines a laborious and highly meticulous process, often requiring months of careful assembling of tools, with a instinctive, visceral, and often controversial performative experience. Some of his works, such as his ongoing performance, "The People I Don't Like," are overtly political, offering the audience an opportunity to hurl sharpened pencils at him while he invokes the names of people in power whose actions he questions.

Other works seek to highlight the systems of technologies that serve us and in turn codify human behavior. His work has been termed post-subjective, a designation that indicates a reordering of artistic authorial hierarchies. While Ilić remains in control as the grand architect of his devices, his collisions with its failings question notions of authorship and ownership as humanity moves into ever-increasing partnerships with the technologies we create. Ilić founded  the experimental performance space ITS-Z1 in Belgrade in 2009, which serves as a platform for the intersection of art and science and has hosted internationally-acclaimed experimental artists such as Stelarc. Ilić's work has been featured in television presentations and shown in numerous performance spaces, galleries, and museums internationally including Documenta, PS 1 MoMa, the Center for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade, Queens Museum of Art, and recently at the Museum of Science in Boston as a part of National Robotics Week, April 2010.


Installation, 2002-2012

The urgency for 'RETRIBUTION' on all five continents, an interactive site specific critical performance installation by Dragan Ilic, came about in recognition of the economic, religious, political, generational but most of all epistemological crisis affecting the entire planet.

"RETRIBUTION", which will begin in Europe (Belgrade), and continue in Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, ending in the U.S.A is a critical act  about the power structures not allowing the necessary changes to the system.

The idea for this high-risk worldwide retributive justice conceptual art project evolved out of Dragan Ilic's previous performances- 'THE PEOPLE I DON'T LIKE' - which he began in Australia in 1977.

The world's problems have reached a boiling point worldwide, a crisis shared simultaneously through the use of social media, a key organizing tool. People, but particularly the young and minorities have been marginalized; they can no longer sustain the growing mega gap between rich and poor, old and new beliefs and value systems. The biggest stumbling block, however, is the fact that young people are not allowed to participate and contribute new ideas; the social and political structures consistently exclude them. Therefore, critical masses at first grew into peaceful protests. Stubborn regimes did not want to accommodate change, and peaceful protests gave way, in a domino effect, to the uprisings and revolutions, most evident in the Middle East. Regimes could change only when millions of people were on the streets protesting and refusing to work.


Dictators and politicians in every corner of the world have to be subjected to retributive justice and be held accountable for their deeds and actions. On Dragan Ilić's list are Bashar al Assad, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, Silvio Berlusconi, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Muammar Gaddafi, Hu Jintao, Benjamin Netanyahu, Fidel Castro, Vladimir Putin, Robert Mugabe, Kim Jong-il, Rush Limbaugh, Tomislav Nikolic, U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, Michele Bachmann, a right-wing 2012 U.S. Republican presidential candidate, and multinational companies Exxon, Shell, BP, Siemens, Monsanto (genetic engineering crops) that rule the world and politicians.

Photographs of politicians (size 30 x 42 cm) with descriptions of their bad deeds and actions and photographs with logos of multinational companies will be nailed through with sharpened red pencils, a symbol of the necessary critical action and consequent epistemological revolution.

Dragan Ilić and spectators will nail photographs down on the ground or on the walls, trees, facades. After the nailing is completed, we will leave them on the site.

Dragan Ilić, <em>Penciled</em>, 2002-2012
Dragan Ilić, RETRIBUTION, 2002-2012