I was unable to meet with Nesa when I was in Belgrade, but
nevertheless I find his work incredibly compelling and striking, mainly owing
to its seeming simplicity. Paripovic is perhaps the least prolific of the
informal group of six artists working in the confines of the Student Culture
Center in Belgrade in the 1970s, but that
does not make his work any less effective or impressive.
Much of Paripovic’s work consists of simple gestures that
test and delimit the role of the artist and the nature of art. His work is
consistent with similar explorations, by the likes of fellow artists Rasa
Todosijevic and Era Milivojevic, however each probe these questions with their
own distinct style. For Paripovic, this style involves minimal actions or
gestures that illuminate extensive issues with regard to the nature of art. For
example, in the photographic performance Untitled
(1975), the artist sits before a blank page/work surface that is illuminated by
a lamp at the side of the table. Several frames showing the artist as he stares, gestures in thought, and
appears to agonize over the empty page before him. The piece shows the artist
at work, not with his hands, but with his head. He takes this exploration
further in one of the four films that he made around this time, N.P.
1975 (1975), which shows the artist from the waist up, occupied with his
hands, which are sometimes out of view of the lens. The film ritualizes the
work done by artists, suggesting that everything that he does intentionally
counts as art.
Jesa Denegri used the term “artist behavior” to refer to the
action of the artist in relation to the art work, and Dejan Sretenovic has
described Paripovic’s artistic strategy as “becoming art,” meaning that his
artistic oeuvre includes all activity and action of the artist, regardless of
whether it was created with the intention of being named and delineated as an
artwork or not. We can see this quite clearly in his next film, N.P. 1977, where the artist takes on the
role of flaneur, meandering through the city and encountering objects and
obstacles along the way, all of which is being captured on camera. This piece not only inscribes the action of
movement in the work of art, but delineates the space for creation, within the
confines of the city as the artist experiences it.
Limits are also demarcated in the photographic performance Examples of Analytical Sculpture (1978),
where the artist touches a female nude model with his lips, encircling her in a
spiral motion, until her entire body has been outlined by the artist’s erotic
touch. Instead of being subjected to the gaze, artist and model become one, and
the surface of the “sculpture” is defined by movement and touch.
There is a moment, however, when the artist does acknowledge
the end point of his role as artist. N.
P. 1978 (1978) is a film consisting of four independent scenes: in the
first, the artist’s face is painted red, and he brings a cigarette to his mouth. In
the second scene, his face is painted blue, and he lights the cigarette. In the
third scene, his face is painted black, and he slides his fingers through his
hair. In the final scene, the artist removes the black paint from his face,
signifying the end of the “performance” and the return to the world of the
real, outside of the confines of art.
Nesa Paripovic’s work from the 1970s
participates in the global dialogue that was taking place at the time, with
regard to the role of the artist and the nature of art. Bringing his own unique
contribution to the discourse, he participates in it by becoming the work of