Zenithism 1921–1927: A Yugoslav Avant–Garde Anthology

Book Signing: February 1, 2024
Co-sponsored by the East Central European Center and Harriman Institute at Columbia University

Please join Ubu Gallery on February 1st in the presence of its editors, Aleksandar Bošković and Steven Teref, to celebrate the publication of Zenithism 1921–1927: A Yugoslav Avant–Garde Anthology, a comprehensive, groundbreaking English–language compendium of essential Zenitist poetry, fiction and nonfiction from the Biblioteka Zenit press, the review Zenit, and other related avant–garde publications. An accompanying exhibition of extremely rare Zenitist and (former) Yugoslav avant-garde publications and art will be on display.

Zenitism, an avant–garde movement unique to the Yugoslav region, was distinct from other avant–garde movements of early twentieth-century Europe in its positioning of hybrid writing – the juxtaposition of visual and written elements to transmit a message impossible to achieve through text alone – as a prominent feature of its aesthetic. Although somewhat overlooked until recently, Zenitism was as vital and complex as Futurism, Dada and Surrealism. The central figures of the movement are represented in the anthology: founder Ljubomir Micić, his brother and co-founder, Branko Ve Poljanski, Yvan Goll, Marijan Mikac and MID [Mita Dimitrijević].

Most of the featured work is appearing in English for the first time. This ambitious anthology teases out the discrete facets of the movement, including its ardor to regenerate “old Europe” through the symbolic figure of “Barbarogenius” and its connectivity with and role within the international avant–gardes. Readers will be led down the disparate roads of the movement in the shadow of the Barbarogenius, a Balkan version of Nietzsche’s Superman – from cinépoetry and radio–film to hybrid writing and finally to conceptual writing. The movement’s fervent activism and its disillusioned nadir are captured.

The complexity of the movement is thoroughly mapped out. Each section is introduced by well-researched essays that contextualize all stages of the group’s development. The anthology features translated texts in the original layout, showcasing Zenitism’s radical contribution to page design and graphics. Zenitism is an overlooked star of great originality which was eclipsed in the turmoil – both regional and international – of subsequent decades. With this event, Ubu Gallery is marking the 103rd anniversary to the day of the inaugural issue of Zenit, an “International Review for New Art,” launched in Zagreb on February 1, 1921. The accompanying exhibition also highlights other important strains of the Yugoslav avant-garde, from Dada/Anti-Dada fronted by Dragan Aleksić to Surrealism as led by Marko Ristić.

Exhibition Checklist- Hanging Works