The YUGO car was the most controversial locally produced and exported Yugoslav brand, with its value ranging from complete ridicule to pure enchantment. Though it was loved for its effortless charm, the ugliest and least reliable car was also an example of the anti-design projects initiated by the state. It was also a contradiction in itself, as it had been envisioned as an affordable commodity, hypothetically costed to embody the needs of the people, but actually worked against them due to its dysfunctionality.
While the YUGO has often been fetishized as ready-made memorabilia, rarely has it been approached without preconceptions in the way the Y? project did. One of the main characteristics of the Y? project is in adding, rather than merely representing or subtracting,
value to the already existing retro brand. The project traces the history of the YUGO as an object of historical importance, but through the various related performances and new accessories, the YUGO is not only retraced, but also revitalized. For example, the letters making up the word YUGO were written on four identical sweatshirts. In order to embody the variables and the combination of this popular signifier and its ever sliding signified, the project authors put on the sweatshirts. By changing positions and documenting the changes, they highlighted the human connection among the people who appreciate the YUGO, but also its potential to be recontextualized. The Y? project is the re-embodiment of the social ties bound to the YUGO through the means of post-conceptual art.
*Text written by Maja Cirić
2019/20, road trip project
(a four-member team of artists went on a journey (from Serbia to New York) in a Yugo car to search for traces of the car’s history)
with: Danilo Milovanović, Toni Poljanec, Luka Erdani
Unlike the present, history comes with both a safe distance and an inherited ideological “manual of instructions” that makes life easier to understand. Because of that, it is the force of a historical point of view that still magnetically attracts citizens to it, despite the entropy of ideology. This is of extreme importance for understanding countries such as Yugoslavia, which lost both their common values and their particular place in the world. This inclination had an impact on the need of a small community of young people to re-examine their legacy by putting a question mark (Y?) over a YUGO car. They (Neža Knez, Danilo Milovanović, Toni Poljanec, Luka Erdani) drove the YUGO from its birthplace of Kragujevac in Serbia to the USA, where it had once been exported to en masse and where they sold it to a new owner. Symbolically, the YUGO, a symbol of the Yugoslav territory, shared the journey from the legacy of socialism to the neoliberal condition with its former citizens.
Hekler, MGLC, Kino Šiška, Maja Cirić
Production and exhibition:
Ministry of culture Slovenia, MOL (City of Ljubljana), I-Portunus, Kino Šiška
*More about the project: