Press release by the art group “Momci”

Below is the full text of a press release by the art group “Momci” (Boys) on the occasion of the attack on an exhibition of their comic drawings at the Stara Kapetanija Art Gallery.

PRESS RELEASE BY THE ART GROUP “MOMCI”

Since the opening of our retrospective exhibition “BOYS – they had that shine around them”, we’ve been waiting to hear some criticism. So far, the only thing we’ve heard are accusations — that our work represents sickness, Satanism, promoting violence against children — in other words, everything except art.

Indeed, violence has been promoted, but by the public, and against art — against the very possibility that an image can have meaning and context that are not just a banal depiction of the author’s psyche, or a literal affirmation of what is drawn.

Seeing an easy target, the crowd quickly skipped all the degrees of indignation and criticism and immediately pressed the biggest red buttons: calls to kill the author, burn the gallery and destroy the exhibition. Banal or not, the anger of the public is authentic and we cannot ignore it. But there is another segment of society that, cold-headedly, designedly, in a coordinated manner and without any outpouring of emotions, silently and systematically tore the entire exhibition — nine years of our work — apart in just a few minutes.

The entire cultural public stood in defense of our group, and freedom of speech in general, while the Ministry of Culture and Information published its famous “BUT press release”, in which it equated the artists with the vandals, condemning aggression according to protocol, but NOTABLY not condemning the destruction of the works themselves.

While the threats and dust are still swirling around in the air, maybe it’s time to finally say, even though no one asked us – what kind of exhibition is it, who are “MOMCI” and what is the “Crybaby”?!

This is a documentary-historical exhibition, and there are no current works in it that would directly correspond with today’s reality. However, it shows the works of the art group “MOMCI”, which was active from 1992. (formally from 1993. to 2001). “MOMCI” were highschoolers, later students, mostly exemplary metalheads, with the occasional new-waver. Although the brutality of the time in which we worked certainly left a mark in our art, the violence, vulgarity, rawness and absurdity of our works was primarily a reaction to the then dying scene of classic comics, which became so anachronistic and boring that it had nothing fresh to offer, apart from knowledgeable admiration for the good old classics.

Just as the beginning of the nineties was marked by an explosion of more aggressive, noisy and extreme bands on the music scene, following the spirit of the times, we thought that the time of classic comics about cowboys and Indians had passed, and decided to impose a more graphically explicit, aggressive style of black humor. And the “Crybaby”? Only one in a series of side illustrations from 1995. (“Screamer”, “Snotty”…), which sought out to depict the brutality of censorship with an ironic sweetness — those who talk a lot of shit, get the axe! That’s how things were then, and that’s how they are now.

An image is never just an image, but always carries its own context. Depending on the context, the image can have enormous power, whether positive or negative. That is why we believe that the most dangerous thing in this situation is that our work has been denied its proper context, and had another, very negative, even perverted context imposed on it, which has nothing to do with our work and “MOMCI”. Is this happening spontaneously, through the public projecting their fear on us, or rather intentionally, in order to make an easy target out of us, for the angry public to vent their frustrations on? We don’t know, but this must be understood: “MOMCI” will always stand for freedom of speech, never for axes and violence, and always for black humor!

Most of our comics are not made for children, which is somewhat a pity, because children often understand banter better than adults. So, if you see your child bursting out laughing at a coyote that falls down a cliff for the hundredth time, don’t worry about his mental health, everything is just as it should be – your child knows the difference between the real and the drawn.

We thank all the individuals, public figures, associations and organizations that stood up in defense of freedom of speech, and especially the Stara Kapetanija Art Gallery, which is bravely withstanding enormous pressure, and the “Novo Doba” festival, which defended us when it was hardest.

Art group “MOMCI”