The Star-Ledger

Part documentary, part travelogue, history lesson, art lesson and political manifesto, Predictions of Fire is a unique investigation into the world of Laibach, an industrial/rock/performance/art/agitprop musical group who invoke the lost history and culture of Slovenia even while they summon the future.

Slovenia was absorbed into Yugoslavia just before World War I — along with Croatia and Serbia — and now is home to nearly two million people. According to filmmaker Benson, a graduate of N.Y.U. who has lived in Slovenia since the early 1980’s [sic], the country was once considered the Switzerland of Yugoslavia — peaceful, neutral and fairly well-capitalized. As a group the Slovenians seem articulate and well-educated.

So it makes sense that a group (calling it a band just doesn’t quite do it justice) like Laibach, and its sister group, the art collective NSK (Neue Slowenishe Kunst), caught hold of eastern European politics, art and philosophy and spun out a manifesto that tweaked the noses of everyone around them.

Laibach and the NSK acted like art guerrillas, dodging around legal and political loopholes, performing concerts and even establishing their own embassy in Moscow. They manufactured their own passports upon occasion, and continue to go out of their way to draw attention to their various agendas.

An interesting philosophical notion drives these groups, one which seems to have had little effect in either deterring or predicting the recent war or the level of atrocities in the former Yugoslavia. But when has art ever held back powermongering or racial hatred?

Ideology aside, Laibach has been creating interesting semi-industrial music for a number of years, including an album of Rolling Stones cover versions and a complete, track-by-track rethinking of the Beatles “Let It Be” LP. Its latest record, “Jesus Christ Superstar” contains a version of the title tune.

The documentary is fascinating and extremely well-made, and uses a variety of animation, propaganda, art, concert footage and live action material, as well as lengthy and profoundly interesting lectures and discussions about art, politics and history. For these things alone, Predictions of Fire is well worth seeing.

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