This fall’s film programme The Labyrinth, the Room and the Straight Line at Kunsthall Trondheim ends with Tomislav Gotovac’s Straight Line (Stevens-Duke) from 1964. As was the case with the other films in the series, it’s a film that makes use of an everyday activity, depicting the street and the public space. In Gotovac’s film we find ourselves on a tram, moving through city in a straight line. The film resembles one of the first filmic genres — “the travelogue” — which once was produced to educate and entertain the public with images from far off exotic places.
Straight Line (Stevens-Duke) belongs to a trilogy of structuralist films dedicated to Duke Ellington and the director George Stevens. The artist uses a fixed camera with a wide-angle lens positioned in the front of the tram that offers us a view of the tram tracks and the street along which the tram is moving. The street life that’s seen from the tram window may not at the time have been an exotic experience for the viewers but today, fifty years after the film was shot, it still in a way fulfil the aim of the original travelogue.
As several of the artists active in the former East during the 60s and 70s, Tomislav Gotovac had an interest in the small gestures and the everyday, even if his artistic methods had a radical edge and a conceptual starting point. He often included himself and his body in his performances and in other works. He is known as the first to perform a happening in Yugoslavia (Zagreb, 1967) and the first streaking (Belgrade, 1971). His performances often took place in public spaces and were based on rather simple activities, like shaving or cleaning the streets.
Tomislav Gotovac was born in Sombor, Serbia, in 1937 and died in Zagreb, Croatia, 2010. He represented Croatia at the Venice biennale in 2011.
Thanks to Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group, Vienna.