Mladen Stilinović, the famous Croatian artist, never had a studio. This was the main reason to organize about a dozen exhibitions between 2003 and 2010 in the apartment in which he lived with his wife Branka Stipancić. Stilinović started to show his works in the domestic space in 1978, when he set up the exhibition Register of My Work 1970–1978. He hung his works in different rooms and the hallway and projected his films to show the audience what he had made so far. Stipancić kindly told me more about these home exhibitions, answering my questions about that period in their lives.
Jean-Lorin Sterian: Who was the audience of the home exhibitions?
Branka Stipancić: Our friends. They were mostly artists and curators.
J-L S: Who was in charge of inviting guests?
BS: Mladen and I. Usually we invited about 40 people, and during the following six months anyone could visit the exhibition by appointment. And then there would be a new exhibition.
J-L S: Did unknown people show up?
BS: Very rarely.
»Usually we invited about 40 people, and during the following six months anyone could visit the exhibition by appointment. And then there would be a new exhibition.«
J-L S: Was the house open between vernissages?
BS: Yes, whoever wanted to see the show was welcome.
J-L S: Given Mladen’s notoriety, were there reports in the press?
BS: No. Once I made short report about one of the exhibitions for HTV: a show for culture called Transfer.
J-L S: Did it sometimes become like a monden soir (like in Ilya’s Kabakov flat, where even high-ranking communists attended)? Was sociability was one of the aims?
J-L S: What would be the difference between a visit from friends, and the presence of the same people at a vernissage in a home?
BS: At home it was much more intimate. There was also always good food and drink.
J-L S: Did you attend similar events held in the homes of other artists?
J-L S: What were the shortcomings of transforming private space into public space, even temporarily?
BS: We didn’t care. It was like a good party.
J-L S: Did some of the events take longer than you would have liked?
BS: Yes, sometimes.
»At home it was much more intimate. There was also always good food and drink.«
J-L S: Have you ever felt these events as an invasion of private space?
J-L S: After an exhibition at your home, did you look at your own house differently?
BS: No. Mladen held exhibitions in his room, which was his studio. This room was always full of artworks.
J-L S: What personal changes did these exhibitions bring?
BS: Mladen did these exhibitions first for himself to see what he’d done. Then he liked to talk about his works with other people.
J-L S: What is the strongest memory that stays from them?
BS: A very warm and friendly atmosphere. We liked very much our friends, and talking with them about art was even greater.
Branka Stipankic is art historian. She worked as a curator at the Gallery of Contemporary Art (today: Museum of Contemporary Art, MSU) and for the last twenty years she has been working as a freelance curator. When she is not preparing exhibitions, she writes, edits, and publishes books.