- Format: Paperback
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-6904-4
- Pages: 344
- Price: £25.00
- Published Date: January 2023
- Series: Rethinking Art's Histories
Winner of the Barbara Jelavich Book Prize 2023
"I am Jugoslovenka" argues that queer-feminist artistic and political resistance were paradoxically enabled by socialist Yugoslavia's unique history of patriarchy and women's emancipation. Spanning performance and conceptual art, video works, film and pop music, lesbian activism and press photos of female snipers in the Yugoslav wars, the book analyses feminist resistance in a range of performative actions that manifest the radical embodiment of Yugoslavia's anti-fascist, transnational and feminist legacies. It covers celebrated and lesser-known artists from the 1970s to today, including Marina Abramovic, Sanja Ivekovic, Vlasta Delimar, Tanja Ostojic, Selma Selman and Helena Janecic, along with music legends Lepa Brena and Esma Redzepova. "I am Jugoslovenka" tells a unique story of women's resistance through the intersection of feminism, socialism and nationalism in East European visual culture."
'Examining both well-known and heretofore neglected artists, this book provides a nuanced discussion of gender, feminism and identity politics in the region. It also serves to widen the discussion about feminist performance practices and strategies beyond the canonical west.'
Amy Bryzgel, Professor of Film and Visual Culture, University of Aberdeen
'"I am Jugoslovenka!" is an essential, nuanced feminist intervention into Yugoslav studies. In discussing Yugoslav feminist performance politics, the book places artists and performers as divergent as Marina Abramovic, Lepa Brena and Esma Redzepova side by side. Tumbas effectively dismantles elitist hierarchies about "high" and "low" cultural production and feminist praxis during and after Yugoslavia.'
Dijana Jelaca, Brooklyn College
'Jasmina Tumbas's book surveys the cultural landscape of late socialist Yugoslavia to reveal the figure of "Jugoslovenka" as an innovative theoretical construct that captures the simultaneity of emancipatory opportunities and entrenched patriarchy. Imaginative and original, it provides a much-needed extension of the ongoing feminist reassessment of state socialism to the field of art history.'
Vladimir Kulic, Associate Professor of Architectural History, Iowa State University
'Tumbas's sensitive awareness of historical context is made in the deft interweaving of visual cultural analysis with the author's story as a refugee from Vojvodina in Germany in the early 1990s...'
'I am Jugoslovenka!" presents a supremely compact overview of performance politics during and after Yugoslav socialism, providing elaborated examples and visual analysis of numerous performances, events or figures that were seen as agents of female emancipation and empowerment. As Jasmina Tumbas not only expertly chooses and compiles the existing research material, but also engages in producing novel approaches and theoretical concepts that will, hopefully, initiate future interest and interpretations.'
Dr. Jana Dolecki
'An enormously fascinating read through all five chapters, this book presents a captivating and hitherto unique overview of feminist performance politics in Yugoslavia. The range of figures alone (photos, artworks, paintings, posters, video stills) illustrates the dimensions of the vast territory Tumbas has mapped, showcasing feminist works spanning several decades. In demonstrating how much we can learn about Yugoslavia and Yugoslav feminism from visual history, the book shifts Western notions about the region significantly. Tumbas guides the Balkan imaginary away from grim warlords in camouflage suits facing trial in The Hague to a much brighter image: (post-)Yugoslavia's female artists.'
Dr. Miranda Jakisa, Comparative Southeast European Studies
'Tumbas also provides the reader the context of her own family background with a working-class Yugoslav mother and grandmother, neither of whom identified with feminism but taught her "more about emancipatory resistance than much of [her] higher education, or many of the feminist text[s]" she has read since then. It is this combination of the archival and the personal, which cannot be overlooked when discussing feminist art practices, that makes Tumbas's such a rich study ... Tumbas's book provides the type of diverse and expansive examination the field of art history has recently come to expect, one that includes a discussion of a range of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including the contributions not just of women artists but also Roma and queer women.'
'It is not too often an art historical monograph achieves a comprehensive and engaging marriage of social, political, and cultural contexts. Jasmina Tumbas's book "I am Jugoslovenka!", achieves not only this, but also successfully incorporates the intersections of gender and the LGBTQ community...."I am Jugoslovenka!" is a cohesive and original work which accomplishes a championing of Jugoslovenka feminist legacy, a legacy and a history of work which has at times been overlooked and erased. Tumbas's work is well-written and accessible to readers, chronicling the rise and fall of nationalism and its socialist impacts and ideologies in Yugoslavia'
Erin Walter, University of Glasgow
'It is this recognition and working within the messy contradictions of history that makes Tumbas's text and its methodology a unique and truly paradigm-shifting contribution...Tumbas's mapping of the histories of socialism, activism, feminist politics, art, and popular culture in, and after Yugoslavia, illuminates not just the otherwise highly understudied and unacknowledged contributions of Yugoslav artists and cultural producers within the history of art but poses a productively disruptive challenge to the discipline's organizational logics. The interdependent developments of socialism, patriarchy, nationalism, feminist resistance, and avant-gardism that are articulated in the text put into practice a queer anticolonial methodology, the structure of which compliments the politics of the performances described therein.'
".... a daring, well-researched, theoretically grounded, and beautifully written book....boldly refreshing. The content analysis of discrete cultural happenings-such as performances, exhibitions, specific artwork, or the praxis of arts collectives-brings to life the unique and dynamic arts and performance culture in Yugoslavia from the 1970s to the 1990s. At the same time, strongly grounded in theory, Tumbas' analysis helps deconstruct monolithic understandings of feminism by analyzing its diverse political and cultural manifestations. The book not only offers a new interpretation of the Yugoslav cultural scene but also calls for scholars to reconceptualize categories of feminism and ideas of socialist emancipation."
2023 Barbara Jelavich Book Prize Committee
Introduction: Jugoslovenka: the unique position of Yugoslav women during and after socialism
1 Jugoslovenka's body under patriarchal socialism: art and feminist performance politics in Yugoslavia
2 Marina Abramovic, Lepa Brena and Esma Redzepova: socialist nation, Orientalism, and Yugoslav legacy
3 Queer Jugoslovenka
4 Jugoslovenka in a sea of avant-garde machismo: a feminist reading of NSK
5 The last generation of Jugoslovenkas: diverse forms of emancipatory resistance and performance strategies
Conclusion: Jugoslovenka: a wide-ranging model for feminist performance politics in art and culture
Jasmina Tumbas is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History and Performance Studies at the University at Buffalo