So far, all I know is, it’s a young collective of graphic designers, photographers, clothes designers and videomakers… Zagrob, who had been invited to perform in Ljubljana on October 13, asked a group of friends (myself included) to participate in his live concert. We had mere a few rehearsals before going there and the impression of a group of young enthusiasts behind KRST we met, was immediately striking.
To start with, I will continue raving about the very poster for the event – for quite sometime, I haven’t seen such an original poster, which barely reflected any kind of information, yet the striking visual code of KRST’s sheer and effective minimalism immediately caught everyone’s eye by its parsimonius, stylishly morbid graphic. Silkscreen printed, white on black, it somehow reflects the fascinating new “grey area” everyone from KRST operates in, and in their own way… Matjaž, Maja, Anže, Janja and Nina will tell us a little more about it.
SD: What was KRST before KRST – and what is it now? How many of you are involved, what are your interests – and aims? †: KRST is a group of five individuals, friends, schoolmates, ex-couples, etc. with similar outlooks and one strong common aim: we need to be creative and put our thoughts, visions and ideas into form – it can exist as a sketch, a drawing, a photo, video-material or a fashion collection. Each of us has interests and experiences in different fields of art and together we complement each other’s ideas. At the moment, we are very busy with other commitments so we barely had any time to talk about our future projects. Hopefully we will rejoin with fresh ideas and new visions about our collective future soon.
SD: For years, many still have faith in Laibach, who are by now considered the national treasure… But in reality, what is the situation today – regarding the underground scene in Ljubljana? †: Today, Laibach as it used to be, is in the past. They have become their own parody. With their disco pop reunion they lost the totalitaristic mien of the earlier period and distanced themselves from the other NSK collectives. Laibach the band is now no longer an alternative response but a sensational happening for the masses. Despite the critical opinion, we think that Laibach (at least before) was the monolith of Slovenian and Yugoslavian underground scene and for many creatives a strong example, a phenomenon which they would come across sooner or later. We are certain that every country has cult bands in larger cities – a tradition which is then passed to younger generations. For example, if you are from Vancouver, you are very likely to come across Skinny Puppy, even if you’re not into “goth”. And in the same way it is hard to pass by Laibach and Borghesia in Slovenia. Borghesia (well, 2 out of the original 5 members) is actually planning to issue a new album soon. We are excited and at the same time somewhat doubtful about all these reunions. Underground scene here is, since the 80’s, created in the DIY spirit, main platforms for artistic freedom being AKC Metelkova, Tovarna Rog and Radio tudent. We think that Ljubljana offers a good underground scene, at least in music, new projects and ideas happen all the time, Ludovik Material and It’s everyone else, for example, are two new slovenian projects we noticed lately.
SD: Are you connected with people from other Slovenian cities? †: We are all from different cities, no one in our group is from Ljubljana. But Ljubljana is the city where we all live, it’s our base. Group KRST is still very young and Krst was the first event we did together. For that one, we haven’t connected with people out of our group yet, at least not on a creative level, but we are open to collaboration with others and would be very happy to do events out of Ljubljana as well.
SD: In an era of tiresome and degradingly aggressive mass-consumerism, how do institutions, cultural or otherwise, react to initiatives like yours? Do they react at all? †: Not one institution has reacted to our event, because we didn’t inform them and we wanted to keep distant from any organisation and institution. We tried to organise our event independently, because we did not want to get designated by a certain institution or political view. We were thinking about the consequences of having a concert or a performance in a museum and because the contextual dependency there would be is very strong, so we gave up on the idea. We think cultural organisations would provide us the space if we wanted and we don’t think they would react to an event like this. It would probably depend on the promotion of the event, which we didn’t do much about and of course the severity of statements against – or not in favour of – the institutional political views.
SD: Recently you have organised your very first multimedia event at the abandoned factory confines of “Tovarna ROG”, where Zagrob and 300.000 V.K. performed live. Was it difficult putting it all together and what are your impressions of this very first event by KRST? †: Frankly, yes. This was our first event and we had very little knowledge about organisation. We wanted to take care of everything and so we did. We fell in love with a place in a complex of Tovarna Rog. It’s a small house without electricity, that’s why we needed to get an aggregate powerful enough for lights, bands and videos. We took care of the sound system, projectors, security guy, drinks, food… That was the most stressful part of event: organisation and our planning with time. Series of incidents happened a few hours before the event. We had problems with the aggregate and therefore with electricity which affected bands’ practice, videos, visual preparations, etc. At the end, the result was not completely what we had in mind. A lot of our video material was not shown, due to our own fault, so parts of the whole story were not even shown. But all in all, our first jump in the water had a successful ending! The concerts succeeded and the atmosphere came to notice with set design. Our videos melted together with the singer of 300.000 V.K. in an unexpected, positive way.
SD: You particularly seem to be interested in video… The one you made in support of 300.000 V.K.’s part of the performance, seems to be having something to do with death and/or ghostly experience, with elements of fashion. What is the idea behind that video? †: Actually, this is an internal experience of a particular female character who goes through a cathartic process. It all started with a discussion on contemporary rituals, how they are perceived today and how all of them feature certain transformations. We projected our own hidden fears into a fictional character, which was presented in a symbolic way – for example, rocks embody the significant other, etc. Of course we wanted not to force anything and leave the viewers to interpret the video in their own way and through their own experience.
SD: In what way morbidity fascinates you? †: All of us had visual encounters, whether it was contemporary art, music, literature… somehow a lot of these things had elements of gloom, which we found aesthetically pleasing for as long as we can remember. Perhaps this was a common ground for our collective, a visual story from which we started out and will probably follow our work, at least for a certain period in our lives.
SD: These days, how difficult is it to find a suitable place for people to meet, see and hear something different? †: We focused on finding the right place for our event and it was by no means an easy task, given that we wanted something that deviates from venues where parties or concerts usually occur. We were looking for a place that is intimate and consistent with our concept, in which it is possible to create the desired atmosphere and is large enough for the number of people we assumed would visit. This first venue combined all of the above, if you do not take into consideration certain drawbacks, such as the unexpected power cut, which demanded a great deal of effort, time and financial resources.
SD: Abandoned warehouses and factories – like the devastated complex of “Tovarna ROG” – seem to be an everlasting template for expressing something considered “obscure”, “industrial”, “alternative”… do you find that ruined factory spaces sometimes also happen to trivialise art? By default, making it sound like it’s always expected to be ultimately marginal – instead of something that should be more, and deservedly, central? †: It could be, we agree in a way, because when putting an “alternative” happening into an even more “alternative” space, it can easily banalise the whole idea of the project, especially in Ljubljana, where these places were started up and are driven by the alternative community. But it is again very difficult to avoid it, because there are really no better options here. These places have become graveyards for some art and birthplaces for another. Doing first events in such places offers a quality springboard for new, upcoming artists in all fields, but after a certain period of building good foundations there, it is very normal if not obligatory, to move on and find other platforms which can complete you as a whole. So, at least for us, we never considered to dwell in the same ground but tend to move on and try to explore what else is out there.
Interview conducted: 1/2
Further information: krstkolektiv.blogspot.com