Branimir Stojanović Trša (1958-2022) left an immeasurable mark in many areas of critical social theory – psychoanalysis, Marxism, theory and philosophy of art, contemporary visual and film art, as well as a theoretical and practical contribution to contemporary workers’ organizing.
For many generations belonging to the Yugoslav artistic, cultural and academic progressive scene, Branimir Stojanović was a dedicated colleague, loyal friend, revolutionary comrade-in-arms, engaged ignorant schoolmaster, emancipated spectator, politicized cultural worker.
Since the end of the seventies and early eighties, as a student of philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, he was involved in student organizing and progressive struggles over the expulsion of eight professors (1968) who were at the time engaged at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade, engaged in the activity of the illegal Free University, and contributed to the magazines Vidici and Teorija.
In the early 1980s, as a member of a left-leaning dissident group, under whose influence he said he became a “Communist without a Party”, he participated in writing and distributing a petition demanding that the state released all pupils and students arrested in demonstrations in Kosovo, and that “none of those arrested in the demonstrations be tried under the provisions of the criminal law on counter-revolution”.
He was an active protagonist of the artistic and theoretical scene engaged in and around the famous Student Cultural Centre in Belgrade, by participating in the panel discussion program, as well as neo and post-avant-garde experiments on the music and art scene of the eighties.
During the war of the 1990s, he was one of the few public intellectuals to raise his voice against the state apartheid imposed over the Albanian population in Kosovo.
Together with his closest associates, Branislav Dimitrijević, Branislava Andjelković, Dejan Sretenović and many others, he organized the School of Art History and Theory (active within the Centre for Contemporary Art – Belgrade) which gave birth to generations of critical philosophers, art theoreticians, artists, art critics, who became the editors of the famous magazine Prelom – magazine for images and politics.
Together with the artist Milica Tomić, he initiated many important art-theoretical projects, such as the Discussion of Art project. The project gave birth to the Grupa Spomenik (the Monument Group, active in 2007/8), which Stojanović and Tomić founded together with Nebojša Milikić. The group has been active in the fields of artistic practice and theory, creating a political space that has allowed for discussion of the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and the existence of post-war collectives in the region.
He had one of the key roles in the formation of the Grupa Radnika u kulturi (Group of Cultural Workers, RUK), which was formed on February 7, 2008 on the occasion of the incident at the opening of the exhibition “Exception – Contemporary Art Scene from Prishtina”, in the Kontekst (Context) Gallery in Belgrade. He was also one of the founders and the chief editor of RUK’s newspaper.
He played an important role in launching the Ignorant schoolmaster and his committees project within the Center for Cultural Decontamination, a long-term space (workers’) self-education that was also an archive of texts, periodicals and books belonging to Yugoslav humanities.
Stojanović was both a visual artist and a film worker, who left an indelible trace in many artistic and film works to which he made a direct or indirect contribution. They include an author’s seven-and-a-half-hour long film “Everyone Speaks” (2009) produced by the 50th October Salon and the Academic Film Center, which Stojanović directed together with director Želimir Žilnik. “Everyone Speaks” gave a voice to many artists, members of Association of Fine Artists of Serbia (ULUS). Stojanović also contributed to Želimir Žilnik’s film “Old School of Capitalism” (2009), a sharp and vivid commentary on the social turmoil in Serbia under the “destructive influences of domestic and foreign financial capital”.
He was a long-term member, colleague and friend of the Slovenian Association for Lacanian Psychoanalysis and “a symbol of the Slovenian-Serbian Lacanian psychoanalytic field”, as stated in a press release on the occasion of Stojanović’s death. In 2021, the Slovenian Association for Lacanian Psychoanalysis published a book by Branimir Stojanović Trša entitled: “Sentimental Education – The Logic of a Biography”.
However, Branimir Stojanović Trša will be remembered, above all, for the fact that he taught many generations of social workers how to think politically.
Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić
This article was ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in Serbian on Feb 24, 2022.