Die Tagezeitung (Berlin)

How does Nazikunst live with disco? The documentary film Predictions of Fire sees the Laibach group as an oracle of the Yugoslav split.

Are they fascists or not? This question is only bait, a selling strategy for the film. To be more exact, Laibach is not even at the center of the film; the subtitle “A film about art politics and war” gives a much more precise fit to what director Michael Benson (a former Rolling Stone journalist) wanted to say: the editing-circle visible in the film draws a line around the art-avant garde in Slovenia in the 80’s. Within the circle the Laibach group — the name of which was already a scandal, being the name of occupied Ljubljana — functions as the section for music/propaganda, while at the same time Benson follows a track which leads to the “ethnic cleansing” in 90’s ex-Yugoslavia.

“We believe in the future and we will look for it in the past if necessary” — directly after the opening sequence, consisting of rotating deer-horns which, similar to a “week in review” on TV, Benson brings up citations which march, as precise as a train, through a hundred years of wars and terror. Boots in mouse-grey, re: militarism, food-hourding fantasies, flickering pictures of shifting political speeches in front of the masses, indelibly in memory, placed in-between real-socialist pomp-kitsch with large-lettered texts (“ART AND TOTALITARIANISM DO NOT EXCLUDE EACH OTHER”), radio-towers, maps burning in Bonanza-style, atavistic fire-signs — Slovenian history erupts from the archives, mixing with the statements of Laibach and a commentary feeding a modicum of information — a German voice seemingly coming directly from the National Archives.

The main subjects of the montage are the following attractions: In the first world war Slovenian soldiers were forced into the armies of the great powers; in the second German fascists marched into Slovenia, the so-called “kindergarten of God in the heart of Europe” — the north part of the Balkans in an idealistic phrase. Tito and the partisans bring the fragmens of the Balkans back together under the state name Yugoslavia, officially an act of liberation and a progressive step in real-existing socialism, but Benson’s cuts and Laibachs simultaneous propaganda speeches spell these happenings differently.

“The material of Laibach’s manipulations are Taylorism, Bruitism, Nazi-kunst and disco” — analogous to West-European neo-avant garde pop movement of the 80’s, Laibach and the art-state of NSK present a rebellion of signs, revealed here in stormy pictures, not necessarily in chronological order, in which the workings of a whole system are revealed. Everything returns: the half-naked steel-worker in the riveted monument, the seventh cross of holy anti-fascism, the ceremonial feudal helmet. To the DAF (German American Friendship) Laibach answers with its New Slovenian Arts movement and the dance of General Tito.

Benson has realized correctly that the NSK in the 80’s is a lot more advanced and powerful than for example the dissidents in East Germany.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.