Neša Paripović’s film N.P. 1977 (1977) is a film about a walk through the summer green city of Belgrade. In a way it’s a self-portrait of the artist who plays the main protagonist in the film. For the film title he has chosen his initials — as is the case with the two other films in a series of three produced between 1975-78.
The artist is for the occasion dressed in a modern maroon velvet suit with wide legs and a pink shirt. His haircut is stylish. He moves through town in a manner that is self-confident and self-conscious, like a man with a purpose who knows his way, who’s on his way to something fun, who’s in a bit of a hurry. And he feels like taking a short cut. Neša Paripović says in an interview from 2006: “How would it be if the shortcut was the right way — to go over all the obstacles?” The man in the film takes shortcuts — he jumps over fences, stroll over playgrounds and streets and climb over walls and roofs. It’s an everyday kind of action, he just takes it to the extreme and the film lets the walk continue in a speed that rather soon seems anything but — as in other works by Neša Paripović the traditional role of the artist is challenged. In N.P. 1977, with its light tone and absurdistic narrative, one can also detect a self ironic attitude towards the role of the conceptual artist.
In his film Neša Paripović lets the man draw a line through the city, from the outskirts and through the centre. He passes by old churches and modern suburbs, scruffy back yards and well off neighbourhoods in what is not only a self portrait but a portrait of Belgrade at the time, a town in transition, just as the hastily moving protagonist.
The imaginary line through Belgrade is an image in the mind of the viewer. In fact the film has no clear logic or narrative besides the constant movement. The man disappears around a corner only to reappear through a hole in a wall of a derelict building in what could be a different part of town. We follow him like stalkers through the camera lens, while he moves in what may be not a line but a labyrinth. There is no real beginning and no real end to the film. The man is seemingly unaware of the camera but uses the city as a mirror in which individual identity is constructed. In a central sequence he stops in front of a reflecting window to tidy up, dust off the suit and arrange his hair.
Neša Paripović is one of the most influential artists within conceptual art in Serbia. He was part of a group of young artists that emerged around the Student Culture Centre, founded in Belgrade in 1971. Together with, among others, Marina Abramović and Raša Todosijević, he was one the advocates for the ”new artistic practice”, a critical and political movement which in the wake of the student protests of ’68 opposed the modernism dominating the scene in Yugoslavia at the time. He works in a variety of media: photography, film, objects and painting. His performances are done for the camera, not in front of an audience, and he uses himself as actor.
Neša Paripović was born in 1942 in Belgrade (Serbia), where he lives and works. The film N.P. 1977 is transferred to DVD. 22 mins. Colour. No sound.
Thanks to Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group, Vienna.