Andreja Kulunčić: You Betrayed the Party Just When You Should Have Helped It

22.2.–20.3.2022., MMSU

Artist: Andreja Kulunčić, in collaboration with anthropologist Renata Jambrešić Kirin and psychotherapist Dubravka Stijačić

Curators: Irena Bekić, Anca Verona Mihuleț


Andreja Kulunčić’s research project, You Betrayed the Party Just When You Should Have Helped It is a rhizomatic approach that aims to ponder upon the transformation of the body subjected to self-colonization in order to survive in a traumatic environment, and to present methods of activating a symbolic location deprived of modern forms of public acknowledgement. In 2019 Andreja Kulunčić, together with Renata Jambrešić Kirin and Dubravka Stijačić started to research the apparatus of constraint behind the oppression of women in the political camps from Goli Otok and Sveti Grgur, two islands situated in the Adriatic Sea. The forced labour camp was created in 1949, as the Yugoslav Communist Party’s answer to the break between Tito and Stalin, with the intention of “re-educating” those members who were politically disloyal; it operated until 1956. More than 850 women were interned there at one time or another, accused of connections to the Cominform. The regime in the camp threatened their reproductive health, sense of ethical responsibility and care for others, and excluded their sexual specificities. The convicts were forced to punish, supervise and interrogate each other, which, along with hard work, resulted in deep trauma and long silence of the women.

The project deconstructs the intentional amnesia surrounding the women’s histories on Goli Otok and Sveti Grgur, opening a passage to memory. In doing so, it reaches a subversive commemorative form – an anti-monument – which doesn’t impose memory but seeks it in the renewing permeation of disputed memories, together with the knowledge and feelings of the audience. The anti-monument opens the process of decentralized collective memory as one of the filters of acceptance of the past.

The exhibition that borrows the title of the project You Betrayed the Party Just When You Should Have Helped It is divided into three stations: a site for the gestural interpretation of the daily tortures endured by the women on the islands in the form of a four-channel video installation, a collaboration with dance artist Zrinka Užbinec, saxophonist Jasna Jovićević and vocalist Annette Giesrieg; a space for reflection and complimentary thinking containing visual materials resulted after the artistic research; and a zone for participation, performed daily by the artist herself through various actions developed in collaboration with the public. Inside the rooms of the museum, the visitor becomes, successively, keeper of memory, participant in the artistic process, and witness of a contingent history.

Andreja Kulunčić’s work has been shown in international exhibitions, including: Documenta11; Manifesta 4, Frankfurt/Main; 8th Istanbul Biennial; Liverpool Biennial 04; Tirana Biennale 3; 10. Triennale-India, and in collective exhibitions in museums: Whitney Museum of American Art; PS1; MUAC, Mexico City; Palais de Tokyo; Garage Museum; Kumu Art Museum, Tallin; MSU, Zagreb; MMSU, Rijeka; Lentos Kunstmuseum; Museum of Modern Art, Saint-Etienne; MSU, Ljubljana; MSUV, Novi Sad; MSU, Belgrade; Ludwig Museum.

On the opening day February 22, the exhibition will be open for visitors from 2 pm.
During the afternoon the program will be held according to the following schedule:
3 pm – 4.30 pm: workshop 850 Women for 850 Women (workshop is intended for women)
6 pm: round table The Female Side of Goli Otok (participants: Irena Bekić, Renata Jambrešić Kirin, Andreja Kulunčić, Anca Verona Mihuleț, Dubravka Stijačić)
7 pm: opening

Public programs:

Reading Evenings
Wednesday, February 23, 6pm CET; Friday, March 4, 6pm CET; Friday, March 11, 6pm CET
Excerpts from historical and theoretical books which enable visitors to immerse themselves in the latest discourse related to the topics of camp, trauma and gender specificity will be read and discussed. The program is conducted by anthropologists Renata Jambrešić Kirin and Sarah Czerny and feminist theorist Brigita Miloš.

The Workshop 850 Women for 850 Women, coordinated by Andreja Kulunčić
Every week, Wednesday and Friday at 4pm CET; Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 12pm CET
Through the making of the figurines, the female participants contribute to the creation of a movable monument of 850 terracotta sculptures that will be exhibited in the future as a complete work.

Guided tours by curator Irena Bekić
Saturdays, March 12, March 19; Sundays, March 13, March 20, starting at 12pm CET


The exhibition will be organised in accordance with the existing measures of protection against Covid-19. Visitors are required to show valid COVID certificate before entering the Museum.

Production: Association MAPA / Maja Marković and Association Goli Otok “Ante Zemljar” / Darko Bavoljak.

Photo: Andreja Kulunčić You Betrayed the Party Just When You Should Have Helped It, information panel, Goli Otok, 2020, photograph: Andreja Kulunčić.