The Subversive Pedagogy of Yugoslav Surrealism: Aleksandar Vuco and Dusan Matic’s The Exploits of the “Five Cockerels” Gang

Lecture | January 28 | 4-6 p.m. | B-4 Dwinelle Hall

 Aleksandar Boskovic, Lecturer in Bosnian, Croatian & Serbian, Columbia University

 Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES), Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

The 1933 collaborative surrealist book The Exploits of the “Five Cockerels” Gang marks the end of the historical avant-gardes in Yugoslavia. Created by two prominent Belgrade Surrealists –Aleksandar Vuco, who wrote the verses, and Dusan Matic, who authored the foreword, collages, as well as the “explanations” of the collages—The Exploits is one of the examples of avant-garde photopoetry books for children, and a rare example of the surrealist “novel in verse” accompanied by photomontages.

The lecture will introduce the lesser-known practices of the Belgrade Surrealists, explain their inclination towards the renewal of children’s literature focusing particularly on The Exploits, and discuss the aesthetic-ideological concepts that the Belgrade Surrealists developed under the sign of the Revolution. The lecture will offer a close inspection of the relationship between Matic’s collages and Vuco’s verses, arguing that The Exploits is a double-voiced Surrealist dispositive: a “suggestion apparatus” set in motion by the reader/viewer who, as an important part of this conceptual-material circuit, participates in the interrogation of the conditions of the political, the articulation of a moment of political possibility, and the enactment of a symbolic destruction of politics.