Željko Jerman

When Željko Jerman began his daily ritual of taking photographs and making notes, his position as an artist was already clearly defined. There was a decade of intense work behind him; he took up photography after years of playing the guitar in a rock band and watching Antonioni’s film Blow Up. His early works follow the classic conventions of photography: they are properly composed, concentrated on the figure or the face and technically well executed. But Jerman, as a committed member of the rebel generation resented social models and consciously chose to be an outlaw. And while most of the other rebels soon gave in to the establishment in search of career opportunities, Jerman’s artistic and existential outlawry has lasted to the present day. It is therefore natural that after proving to himself that he was capable of taking and producing ‘nice’ photographs, a phase of defiance and the need for a different aesthetic model ensued. Each individual mark and gesture is the result of a determined and conscious decision. For Jerman existential reality is artistic reality, there is no distance, no mediator. Although the spontaneous and unconscious element sometimes prevails in his work, the result is subsequently evaluated, considered and publicly displayed. In the alternating ritual of creativity and destructivity, the rational and the irrational, Jerman uses the alchemy of photography to maximum effect.   

            Starting off from this aesthetic position Jerman found people of similar ideas and artistic practice in the group of friends/artists who did not put their collaborative work above their individual activities. Six artists (Jerman, Boris Demur, Vlado Martek, Mladen Stilinović, Sven Stilinović and Fedor Vučemilović) were united in creative action. The idea, stemming from their dissatisfaction with the cultural situation they encountered, was realized in the form of independently organized exhibitions-actions. These exhibitions-actions liquidated the mediating role of the cultural infrastructure (a poorly developed, politically controlled, unquestioning, boring cultural infrastructure; a culture of tacit silence, misinterpretations, and a strict extra-artistic hierarchical value system, etc.) in favor of direct presentations, communication and information.


Excerpt taken from: Darko Šimičić. “Having been there.” in: Željko Jerman. Moja Godina 1977 / My Year 1977. Darko Šimičić (ed.), Zagreb: Meandar, 1997. p. 397.


1949, Zagreb / HR, at that time Jugoslavija – 2006, Korčula / HR


Please follow this link for a selected bibliography available at the ERSTE Foundation Library
Media File
Browse All