Newsreel 62 – Family and Worker
video, photographic collage, archival material
In 1966, with the help of the country’s youth brigades, the lottery and the support of the broader community, 2000 square meters of new exhibition spaces materialised in a mere 50 days. This was followed by the opening ceremony of the international exhibition Peace, Humanity and Friendship among Nations, the context of which was much informed by the 20th anniversary of the end of World War II and the writing of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, while the entire event took place under the honorary patronage of the UN.
Two artworks by Syrian artist Mahmoud Hammad entitled Family and Worker were exhibited in 1966. Both works arrived via the Yugoslavian embassy in Damascus, priced at just 25 and 15 dollars; however, after the exhibition, all traces of both works disappeared. Also missing from the collection was a print by the artist Jan Forsberg with the symbolic title War, which was awarded first prize by the international exhibition jury.
The only thing left of the work Family and Worker was a small reproduction in the exhibition catalogue from 1966, five centimeters in size, a black-and-white contour of four silhouettes. This absence of images dictated the questions that exhibition and video essay Newsreel 62 – Family and Worker reflect on: What were these images like, the images of the Worker and the Family, and what kind of image can we envisage today, when nearly half a century after the exhibition Yugoslavia has disappeared from the world map, which Syria may be about to, as well? Was the image a foreboding of the future, does it reflect the here and now – that is, the there and then? Was it thinking about a better tomorrow or point to yesterday? Did it depict horror or capture our gaze with its surprising imagination?
In 2015 the work War was found and bought on an online auction in the USA for $77.94. In 2019, the print Family was located in Jordan. The print was acquired for $5,000, and returned to the public collection.
The intervention provided context with texts published in Newsreel Shreds, contributed for this exhibition by Andrej Šprah, Nace Zavrl, Andreja Hribernik, and Nika Autor.
Happiness for You and Your Family ,Tobacco 001 Cultural Centre, MGLM, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2019
Museum of Contemporary art, KGLU, Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia, 2016
Photo of the installation by Katja Goljat.