BOĆA’S MEMO­RIAL SAUNA

A synthesis of Instead of Free Goulash and
Boća’s Memorial Sauna: a two-part project.

The Pocket Empire of Boća Milošev

In addition to the exhibition created by an anonymous collective – Smetnjak – at Aksioma Project Space, Ljubljana will host another trash exhibition at the end of June and beginning of July 2021. However, unlike the sophisticated meme-based subversion seen online, this exhibition is slightly more prehistoric. It includes the DIY technology used for making photocopies, fanzines, and old-school self-publishing media, VHS tapes and CDs, that had less of a role during Prime Minister Janez Janša’s term in office, but it did both enrich Serbian culture and regularly expose the Serbian government led by Slobodan Milošević.

Smetnjak’s universal formula of “making beauty out of shit and mediocrity” can also be applied to our tale of Boća, a vet and microbiologist who used purely biological means to begat most of the Vršac underground scene. These are his two sons, Zlikovac and Wostok (the latter became a “comic-book virus”, a catalyst for creation and the future artistic progenitor of his own father) and a carefully-selected assortment of an otherwise vast informal and unpretentious group of amateur artists and fans of Pan Erotika magazine (in addition to Boća himself, the group includes uncle Bora, Čiber, Grabowski, Opra, Red, Peki, Misha Mangup, Nabor Devolac, Koja, Davorr, Vesna Tokin, Mr. Kostić, Deda Zira, Lola, Dijabolik, Zlikovac, Wostok and Zlata VK, along with the occasional guests from elsewhere, like Rashid, Katie Woznicki and Vlada EPP). They exploded onto the scene at the turn of the millennium with their brand of shamanistic healing of injured souls and an unmistakable punk and anti-kitsch aesthetics.

The tale of Bogdan Milošev – Boća, which we began last year, continues with an exhibition of comics, video recordings, and artefacts, brought from the town of Vršac in Vojvodina by his underground worshippers, Wostok and Zlata VK.

On 9th May of 2020, on the occasion of a lost victory day and the 75th anniversary of the Sétif, Guelma, and Kherrata massacres (an instant Huda Jama-type mass killing times ten), we presented a special themed evening, marked by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, called Instead of Free Goulash. The highlight of the evening was a live-stream from the family home and cultural centre of Bogdan Milošev – Boća in Vršac, featuring the performance of music group Tehno muda.

Today, more than thirteen months later, both key members of the group are dead. Following the death of singer and frontman Boća two years ago, the creative and two-time-Pfizer-BioNTech-vaccinated artistic group from Vojvodina were shocked to experience the sudden passing of composer and musician Vojkan Milošev – Zlikovac two months ago. As part of the Boća’s Memorial Sauna exhibition, we will therefore honour both artists with an inauguration performance of Requiem for the Chief of the Barbarians and His Beloved Son.

The exhibition by design includes only one physical copy as pars pro toto of the 725 serial issues of the Krpelj fanzine (these were continuously being created from September 1993 to the start of 2003, with a few gaps here or there, which can also be attributed to the editor’s (Wostok’s) gaps in memory. Instead, the exhibition focuses on selection of templates and originals,mainly in the form of comics, which all pertain to Boća; it also features the cover art of the key albums recorded by Tehno Muda and accompanying artifacts.

The simultaneous artistic expression through the medium of comics, which art theoreticians once proclaimed to be “the ninth art”, and tinkering with cheap VHS technology even produced its own little bud on the Tree of Art, something we like to call the “comic-book film”. The concept for this innovative new medium goes back to the year 2000 and the Failed Project: The Wizard of Burjan film, where Boća provides the voice of the narrator and plays one of the characters.

The audio and visual portion of the Boća’s Memorial Sauna exhibition also includes the Marcial’s Best Friend music video, produced for the eponymous song on the Tehno Muda album Hey Big Ears, give me a sandwich from 2005, and The State is Dying music video by the superior, yet completely unknown, artist Misha Mangup who could conceivably (provided he had enough Vaseline) fill stadiums with his concerts. Mangup wrote The State is Dying, a song full of wonderful reverb effects and Yugoslav nostalgia, in 1982 in Postojna, when he was conscripted into the Yugoslav People’s Army (today, the place is the site of the Barron Čehovin Military barracs). He did the studio recording in 1996 in the Spanish isle of Palma de Mallorca. The music video, which includes Boća sitting on the toilet, was then shot by Wostok in 1998 at the Milošev Family Cultural Centre in a single take.

Boća’s Memorial Sauna is the next in the Gallery as a Medium exhibition series at GalerijaGallery. It could very easily be interpreted as both a post-theist victory over death and a simultaneous homage to the toilet director of the first youth club in the former Yugoslavia to have underfloor heating, Marko Brecelj.

The documentation of the first part of the exhibition project with an introduction to the artistic scene in Vršac is available here.

– Vasja Cenčič