Laibach and the NSK: Aestheticising the East/West Nexus in Post-Totalitarian Europe
This paper reflects a study in how the Slovenian art collective the NSK (Neue Slowenische Kunst), and more specifically its sub-group Laibach, interrogate the representation of Central and Eastern European cultural memory in the context of post-Socialism, and operate as a nexus between Eastern Europe and the West. Emerging in the wake of Tito's death and shaped by the break-up of Yugoslavia, the NSK were founded in 1984, in Ljubljana (northern Slovenia). The NSK is a multi-disciplinary collective primarily comprised of three groups: IRWIN (visual arts), Noordung (theatre), and its most influential delivery system, Laibach (music). Brought to academic scrutiny in the West by Slavoj Žižek for their subversive strategy of over-identification with the totalitarian spectacle, Laibach are Slovenia’s most famous cultural export, with a global following, and an international and domestic history of controversy. With the strategy of Retrogardism, Laibach and the NSK re-mythologise totalitarian iconography associated with Nazi Kunst and Socialist Realism. Through this process of re-mythologisation Laibach explore the unfinished narrative of Communism and the legacy of the European traumatic historical in the context of a ‘post-ideological’ age.
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