Topical Commentaries from the Past, our new mini-exhibition series in the vestibule of the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, presents works from the Moderna galerija collections on posters, whose multilayered content imbues them with a communicative power that transcends any particular period. With its projects, the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova does not confine contemporaneity to the present moment exclusively but finds it in the past as well. Our series of new posters featuring works from our collections link past potentials with the pressing issues of our time, today.
The OHO movement, Marko Pogačnik
US Army poster
Tribuna, 21 December 1966, Vol. XVII, no. 9
In 1966, Marko Pogačnik carried out a series of antimilitarist projects in protest against the war in Vietnam: every week he would publicly draw antiwar comics in the Kazina archway in the center of Ljubljana, and then publish some of them in the student periodical Tribuna, where he worked as a graphic designer and editor. The comics were composed of characteristically simple line drawings and ironic texts underscoring the senselessness of the American involvement, like: “Do you want the perfect crewcut / Do you want to wear the uniform of a perfect order / Do you want to preach truth, justice, and democracy across the globe / Do you want to kill people / Do you want to croak / Yes / Join the US Army / You’ll be cadets for World War III / You’ll be candidates for the killers of the world / You’ll be the happy proselytizers of the new fascism / Come, come, come.”
The Tribuna board of editors followed the progress of the war in Vietnam closely and, in keeping with their pro-peace position, declared 20 December the day of Yugoslav students’ solidarity with the Vietnamese people. This declaration was published above an image Pogačnik designed as a centerfold poster that could be put up on a wall, just as he put up his posters in public.
The drawing on the poster consisted of two simple lines that formed an equal-armed cross and four inscriptions of US ARMY branching off to the right from the tips of the cross, transforming it into a swastika. This was probably the most subversive of Pogačnik’s images from his so-called “Vietnam Drawings” series until then, since the message was clearly aimed not only at the United States and their imperialist actions overseas, but, as Tomaž Brejc wrote, at “the domestic political reality (…) The Yugoslav People’s Army was becoming the only trans-republican, ‘Yugoslav’ political force, above any criticism or irony.”