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Artist in Conversation:

Zolt  KovaC

January 22 2017

Artist Zolt Kovac in Conversation with Ana Russell-Omaljev (CoBA), 22 January 2017 at GALLERY 106, Dawes Road, London SW6 7EG.


Zolt Kovac is an artist engaged in changing social attitudes through reflection on the urban community. His work examines our all-consuming ‘rush’; the criteria that are being degraded; the idea of why we started this rush without challenging it critically.

Why are we chasing it? Is it money? Fame? Happiness? Self-realization and productivity have become the one and only religion. We have fallen into this maelstrom of everyday activities and obligations, running on endlessly to a powerful state of over-whelming creativity. The stability of this increased presence in which we can spend many hours rarely realises that anything else exists outside this micro-activity. Conversely, time can pass quickly, but there is always the impression it is vanishing and more often, we are trying to overcome it through manic activities.

Zolt Kovac is the co-founder and editor of the online arts magazine Supervizuelna ( which provides critical analysis of some of the dominant issues of contemporary art. He also plays bass guitar in the alternative rock band Jarboli.

He received undergraduate and master’s degrees from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade. His artwork has been exhibited in more than twenty solo shows and many more group exhibitions, both in Serbia and internationally.

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How brutalism and architecture helped build the national identity in former Yugoslavia

April 25 2017

Ana Russell-Omaljev (CoBA) talked with the London-based photographer Jovana Mladenovic about her project ‘Monumental Fear’ that documents commemorative WWII monuments that create the web of memory of victory over fascism.

The aim of ‘Monumental Fear’ is to explore the many WWII monuments spread across the former Yugoslavia and to present them to the audience outside the specific region through art, not just history. At the outset of Tito’s new republic, ambitious plans were laid to craft a new classless society, united around socialist ideas and sense of progressive optimism. In the period 1960s–1980s, hundreds of spomeniks were built as the legacy of a bygone era: they were objects of anger, testaments to triumph and symbols of resentment.

This Artist in Conversation event has touched upon the question, amongst many others, of why these monuments have such alien and otherworldly designs. Currently, most of spomeniks are abandoned and neglected, forming an unseen web of lost cultural markers. Still, they tell us a haunting story about memory, history and an unrealized future.


Walk through Walls with Mary Richards and Duška Radosavljević

May 11 2017

It was the closing night of CoBA’s exhibition Interruption that took place from 6 April to 11 May at LIBRARY, London. To mark the occasion, Ana Russell-Omaljev, CoBA’s Creative Director, moderated a discussion on Marina Abramović’s latest book Walk through Walls, A Memoir, with her guests – Mary Richards, Reader in Theatre and the Vice Dean (Education) of College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences at Brunel University London and Duška Radosavljević, Reader in Contemporary Theatre and Performance at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.

The discussion was divided into three parts – how former Yugoslavia provided the context for Marina’s work, Marina’s performance art and her method, and critical reception of the book.

Communism in Yugoslavia at the time of Marina’s youth was of a special kind, and she gives her perspective on it in the memoir. Her parents were both partisans, who fought in World War II, after which her father became a member of Tito’s elite guard, and her mother the director of the Museum of Art and Revolution in Belgrade...

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December 2017 at UCL

Continuing UCL Ex-Yu Society’s “Conversation with…” series Ana Russell-Omaljev and Branislav Radeljic talked about their paths to CoBA, its history and the idea behind its creation.

Their initial idea was to engage people through art. The conspicuous absence of state efforts to promote culture from Ex-Yugoslav states left an unmet need. Further motivation is found in the desire to change the stereotypical view of the Balkans: aggressive, unpredictable, explosive, passionate, powder keg, tragic and epic in its own way – that crazy, brutal exotic corner of Europe.

CoBA has shown Balkan artists’ talent and professionalism, showcasing new artistic practises that developed while the region was largely sidelined. Balkan artists are now being increasingly recognised in the World’s art markets as adopters of modernist trends with a unique culture, identity and community.

Ana and Branislav further addressed the issues of relationships between the state and art in the Balkans, the promotion of ex-Yugoslav culture and arts abroad, and current difficulties and opportunities of cultural production in post-Yugoslav states.


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(Dis-)Continuities in Post-Yugoslav Art Space

February 22 2018

Contemporary Balkan Art is delighted to present the latest in its Conversations series with Marko Ilic PhD, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at UCL School of South-East European Studies. Marko gained a BA in Art History from Cambridge University (2011) before completing both an MA (2012) and PhD (2016) at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

This Conversation explored alternative art production in Yugoslavia between 1968 and 1989 and the continuities and discontinuities with the post-Yugoslav art space. Marko did, in particular, discuss the manner in which Student Cultural Centres encouraged the cross-fertilisation of different cultures and introduced new forms of self-organisation, such as the New Art Practice.


Embassy of the Republic of Serbia, 28 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8QB 22nd February from 6.30pm.

Marko was in conversation with Ana Russell-Omaljev PhD, Creative Director of CoBA.

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Cultural Diplomacy and National Branding: The Role of Arts, Literature and Creative Industries

October 5 2018

Aleksandar Brkic, Lecturer, Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship, Goldsmiths University
Susan Curtis, Istros Books, Southeast European and Balkan literature
Ana Russell-Omaljev (moderator), Creative Director, Contemporary Balkan Art

Embassy of the Republic of Serbia,

28 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8QB

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Toward a Concrete Utopia - yugoslav architecture

October 6 2018

Film screening of Unwanted Heritage, by Irena Skoric, talks about many of Yugoslav monuments that were of a high artistic value, having been designed by some of most prominent artists, now turning into waste.

The film screening was followed by panel discussion on the subject of exhibition Toward a Concrete Utopia at MoMA in New York and Yugoslav culture, architecture and heritage.


Marko Ilic, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, SSEES, UCL
Dragan Pavlovic, Visiting Lecturer, University of East London
Goran Vodicka, Lecturer in Architecture, Sheffield Hallam University

Ana Russell-Omaljev (moderator), Creative Director, Contemporary Balkan Art

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