Neues Slowenisches Museum: An Essay on Institutional Critique and the Production of Institution

  • Zdenka Badovinac (Autor/in)


In 1984, three art groups – the multimedia group Laibach (formed in 1980), the visual art group Irwin (1983), and the theatre group the Sisters of Scipio Nasica Theatre (which lasted from 1983 to 1987) – established the movement Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) in Ljubljana. At the same time, they created a fourth group, New Collectivism. Other groups later joined NSK, of which the most active one is the Department of Pure and Applied Philosophy. All the artist groups making up the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) have been greatly concerned with institutions from the outset, in particular the state, the army, the ideological system, capital, and the museum. In order to really understand the workings of the official system and be able to criticize it, they had to themselves become what the object of their critique was – a system. To make the NSK phenomenon more easily understandable to a Western audience, the familiar term ‘institutional critique’ is used in this essay. This universal designation, however, is also problematic: unlike Western artists, the NSK were not interested in criticising institutions, but rather wanted to replace them. To this end, they employed the strategies of over-identification, self-historicizing, and the production of reality.