Fragments and reviews on Andrej Tisma's art

Visual poetry and mail art

Andrej Tisma's art actions take place in the environment of the so-called expanded, but at the same time interwoven visual art and literary medium. Word, gesture, mathematical symbol or random snapshot meet in the same semantic plane to transform their barely hinted and contradictory semanticism.

Particularly interesting are Tisma's explorations in mail-art, a fairly recent artistic discipline, whose expansion over the past few years had pushed into the background conceptualism, concrete and visual poetry. In his mail-art creations Tisma makes use of stamps of his own manufacture ("remek delo / master piece", "neopisivo / undescribable" etc.) which he applies to postcards and other communicative material or employs them to intervene in official, mostly banal picture postcards, changing their kitsch appearance and message to a relevant poetic load.

Andrej Tisma's "Alter" is one of the top achievements of the Yugoslav avant-guard in recent years.

Miroljub Todorovic
(Epilogue of the Alter book, Vrsac, 1987)

Mail art and rubber-stamp art

A multimedia artist, Andrej Tisma, started his activities in a new, mail-art medium, in the early 70’s. Mail-art has set out as a form of art called guerrilla, or underground art which endeavored to establish a closer contact with the recipient.

As for the art of stamps, Tisma has made stamps in a number of ways, applying different techniques. His stamps probably rank among the most recognized ones in the world. In his case, the word and the picture are one. It is in this sense, therefore, that this art will have its value in the future as well.

Zivan S. Zivkovic
(TV Novi Sad, “Videopis” program, June 1992)

Performances - (spi)rituals

Andrej Tisma is one of the few younger authors who in the current, changed circumstances in the world of art, continue to express themselves artistically in the way that was introduced in the 70’s and that could be termed - behavioral art. Namely, it is an art that does not find its expression in the production of art works: drawings, sculptures, graphics, but rather in the communication between the artist and his environment.

Certainly, what is also important are the thoughts, the ideas and endeavors the artist wishes to convey. It can be said that the ideas promoted by Tisma are very topical in the current circumstances. He is pleading for the establishment of communication among people, for cooperation and understanding.

Jesa Denegri
(TV Novi Sad, “Videopis” program, June 1992)

Photography and video art

Tisma uses polaroids in very different ways, but the key system of combining them is based on the principle of Hegel’s triads. In other words, he juxtaposes two different pictures and it is up to the viewers to draw a conclusion from them. On the one hand, there is life, represented by powerful erotic scenes. On the other, he takes objects from nature, which could be called “found” objects and scenes that represent the other, the Tanatos. In such combinations, Tisma makes us wonder about the objective of art, about the meaning of modern life and, indeed, about what is it that artists should be doing.

Tisma's video has actually struck us as an entirely new approach to the creation of short artistic videos. He uses as his sources the current TV production, i.e. news, documentary and history programs, skillfully compiles them and creates a system which talks about an artist who has consciously and artfully weaved up an artistic viewpoint over a number of years, an attitude which certainly places Tisma among the leading figures of the contemporary art in this region.

Slavko Timotijevic
(TV Novi Sad, “Videopis”, June 1992)

Networking, (spi)rituals and anti-embargo

The attitude towards art as a particular kind of spiritual energy exchange, which existed before the appearance of modern avant-garde movements, and which can be found in theoretical and practical work of Andrej Tisma, a mid generation artist from Novi Sad, is embodied in his (artistic) shapes which stand as a unique phenomenon within our contemporary visual art and culture.

Following the traces of main conceptual art forms and being involved in visual poetry during the 1970-s Tisma started to do mail art. This artistic strategy was only a starting point in a path that led to some new possibilities for him.

Later on, he moved on from the artistic interventions on postcard and stamps towards communication by video and audio cassettes and computer inscriptions. This collective exchange of energy has brought the foundation of The Network, a world wide open system of communications that was defined by Tisma as "a spiritual sculpture which wraps up the whole planet". Artists' ideas circulate and meet within this global sculpture, establishing a new principle of selection, so that the most original ideas incredibly quickly and efficiently become the benefit of all the participants in communication.

Andrej Tisma has developed meet-art since the mid eighties which has transformed his multimedia activities. Since he considers that inspiration always vanishes to a certain degree when it becomes materialized, he gets more involved in projects that require direct with audience, and sometimes even their participation. The spiritual component of these artistic actions is stressed and he performs them under the name of (Spi)rituals.

Beside his recent performances in Belgrade and Milan, Tisma gave a lecture on his (Spi)rituals at L'Institute des Hautes Etudes en Arts Plastiques, Paris in 1991, after being invited by Pontus Hulten, who was the founder of the Modern Gallery in Parisian Beaubourg. In October 1992 Tisma presented these actions to audience in Seoul as well. During 1992 and 1993 he communicates within The Network sending his visual and textual works to his colleagues abroad in order to give them information about the situation in our culture under the sanctions. In September 1992 organizes "Anti-Embargo Networker Congress" in Sremski Karlovci. He continues this activity, especially after his recognition that his colleagues from all around the world are not fully aware of the consequences made by the sanctions, and their bad effect on our culture. Doing this Tisma not only widens formal horizons of art, but strengthens our tiny presence in the world cultural exchange today.

Svetislav Jovanov
(From the "Cage" magazine, Odzaci, October 1993)

On (spi)rituals

As the most convincing and most authoritative protagonist of immaterial art forms on the contemporary Yugoslav scene, but also as its outstanding theoretician, Andrej Tisma calls his art works "(spi)rituals" – rituals of the spiritual exchange, which means immaterial art intended to be perceived neither though senses (like beaux arts), nor through a mental process (like conceptual art). Instead, it was made for the human spirit, which is a great potential waiting to be awakened, and the author thus elicits at the same time the "material" he uses in his work, the spiritual energy. He considers it a resourceful substance that can be shaped, directed, spread, absorbed, etc, in order to reach an ultimate goal, which is inspiration, the pure sensation of enlightenment and purification, and the touch with the meaning of our existence, and that is the main target of every artwork. The artist has almost been forced to give shape to the "material" he has chosen by processes once used by shamans, artists of the ancient times, that is, through ritual acts which function directly, without any object serving as media, and in that way shorten the communication channel to a great extent.

Trying to awaken in people a consciousness of belonging to humankind and everyone's mutual dependence ("Love"), putting an accent on the right of individual freedom and equality of races ("Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite 1789-1989" and "Stigmatization"), on the relations between an individual on the one hand, and nature and social environment on the other ("Be Grateful Child to Mother Earth", "43 Cubic Meters of Love", or "Tisma at Delifrance") or on relations of an individual to another individual ("Street Encounters" and "Spirit Control") as well as on his personal attitude toward centers of power ("Encounter in my Heart"), this artist creates a spiritual space which unifies and crystallizes emotions which are rather general and common than personal, and, in relation to the society, they are not a reflection of the world outside, even to a lesser extent are they an expression of the artist's own consciousness or feeling, but they are, in fact, first of all, catalysts of the collective consciousness.

By awakening spirituality in the field of his own existence in space and time, Andrej Tisma does not only confirm himself as an artist, but also brings to the surface or reality some categories of value buried deep inside every being, which have been - whether we are willing to admit it or not – suppressed through time.

Luka Salapura
(From "Sveske" magazine, no 23, Pancevo, 1995)

Networking, performances and stamps

A keen observer of alternative art on an international level, it is instructive in witnessing the changes in the tone of Andrej Tisma's writings as his country is plunged deep into war, and an economic and cultural embargo imposed on his native Serbia by United Nations. Well traveled (New York, Paris, Stockholm, etc.), and in touch with the international network of postal artists, Tisma was suddenly forced to confront his peacetime position of universal brotherhood, international cooperation, and concerted group action, against a backdrop of increasing hostilities.

As Serb refugees flooded into Novi Sad from Bosnia and Croatia fresh from ravages of war, Tisma staged performances for peace and against the embargo on his country. His writings on the subject are penetrating observations on the status and persuasiveness of art in wartime conditions. In addition to his performances and writings, Tisma has created a strong series of carved erasers, which are used on his outgoing correspondence, expressing his life as an artist under cultural embargo and wartime conditions.

John Held, Jr.
(Foreword to the catalog of Andrej Tisma's rubber-stamps exhibition, Stamp Art Gallery, San Francisco, 1996)

Rubber-stamp art

The impression of an art stamp, created and used by Andrej Tisma, is not only a carrier of artistic value. It is not even its primary character. Many of the stamps made by this artist carry short and concentrated messages of an engaged type, whether the engagement is of an artistic, social, ecological or political nature.

Obviously believing that a traditional artistic engagement implies a support of a certain system of governance and that, as such, it loses some of its value in the advancement of awareness, thus becoming a "political servant", Andrej Tisma strives, through provocation and introducing an individual into the art work through action, to take him out of a latent state of impotence. The final objective could be nothing but a "substitute of collective norm by true emancipation" (K. Thomas).

The priority in this form of artistic expression is given to the action of making the print of an art stamp. Without this action, the art stamp, at least the kind used by Andrej Tisma, would not have the necessary power that sets it toward the true emancipation of man as one of the most important characteristics of this work of art.

The place and context in which the art stamp is printed (the action is taken) tell about the importance of the implementation of the art stamp in the everyday life of man. It should be emphasized that Andrej Tisma never escaped to or took refuge in the autonomy of art. He always moved towards the essence of the problem, trying to influence the awareness of the trends in social development that lead us all, on a local and planetary level alike, to the Apocalypse.

Whether we observe Andrej Tisma as a painter, graphic artist. conceptualist, performer or an engaged artist, his art always insists on the awakening of spirituality rather than its exclusivity.

Never adopting the retrograde phenomena in the modern art trends, but rather consequentially following the avant-garde course (risking incomplete understanding and acceptance), Andrej Tisma - with his artistic existence - sounds a warning. Technological development and fast flowing information gradually push man from the center to the margin of life. Humanizing technology by his art and through the network, this artist also influences the humanizing of the civilization. This is exactly why the art stamp, as used by Tisma, is an important and great art. Especially when we bear in mind that the quality of all great art is just this feeling of the artists for their time.

Luka Salapura
(From the PECArT show catalog, Novi Sad, 1996)

Mail art and rubber-stamps

At the very beginning of mail-art communication, Andrej Tisma, a multimedia artist and critic, joined individual actions and organized them himself. As early as 1973, he appeared for the first time with the stamp as a method of multiplying messages in the above mentioned form of visual communication. Since then, through numerous actions, in the otherwise very dynamic world of mail-art, this author has become really well- known. Not only that: some of his messages have become cult messages (No ism! and some others). They have been reproduced in various forms of print, from textile to badges, stickers, etc., all over the world. He has exhibited his stamps, as multioriginal forms, countless times all over the planet. Recently, a retrospective exhibition of stamp prints was staged in the only gallery in the world that supports and presents this form of art - the San Francisco Stamp Art Gallery.

Let us just mention on this occasion some of the other networker acts of Andrej Tisma, such as Antiembargo Art or Fax HeART. Clearly, he is one of the few inhabitants of Novi Sad whose name is recognized in the ranks of visual arts on all continents.

Slobodan Vilcek
(“Nezavisni” Novi Sad, May 1996)

Rubber-stamp art

Ivan Cankar

Design of personal communication, as well as the communication itself represents a timeless need of each person to reach out for friendship, for love to enlarge its own world and beat loneliness and isolation. And each and every try is deeply personal and carries the unmistakable signature of its author.

The "seals", the sigils of Andrej Tisma, simple, and witty, always carry the message of love, whatever the design of the mark, the seal. The need for a wider, sincere humane relationship, the constant contact over the seemingly wide spaces of land, desert and seas of our small derelict spaceship, EARTH.

And contrary to Marshall McLuhan's THE MEDIA IS THE MASSAGE, it's the message itself transformed into the seal squible and by magic, becomes media. By design, by intent. By the endless search for a better word, world of friends, not foes, a world where no man is the WOLF to another man. Because, as the twelfth century Grusian poet Shota Rastelli wrote ages ago: "Who does not seek friends for himself, is his own enemy."

Mirko J. Stojnic
(From the PECArT show catalog, Novi Sad, 1996)

Rubber-stamp art

At the outset, it can easily be said of Tisma's stamps that they are a kind of sublimation. In other words, they reflect the entire scope of the artist's work as a performer and networker. He has transferred his most important performances and mail-art actions to the stamps, thus continuing to use their agonic energy from one medium to another.

By constantly doing intensive research work in various techniques and methods in a number of art forms, “humanizing technology” and insisting on the “awakening of spirituality”, Andrej Tisma has once again introduced himself as a planetary artist, who has already entered the third millennium with his innovative and inspiring work.

Miroljub Todorovic
(“Politika”, Belgrade, July 1997)

Computer graphics

Andrej Tisma is an artist who has for a long time now employed technical achievements and means to serve the purposes of arts and artists, thus giving them a humane dimension. His most recent works have been created by the use of all the potentials offered by computers, scanners, black-and-white printers or state-of-the-art ink-jet color printers.

Following up on his previous works, but now relieved from having to cope with the limitations of the earlier technology, Tisma created a series of electro-collages and electro-graphics, which - thanks to the use of hi-tech products - became more communicable.

Promulgating his concept that art should not be exclusive, and actively working on the awakening of spirituality, Tisma endows his latest works with a recognizable mark, which is an answer to his own time and a constant protest and warning, on a local as well as global scale. It is not a visual quality one should look for in his works, but rather a message, an action which stimulates man's spirit to stir and make some constructive steps.

Luka Salapura
(Catalogue of the exhibition “Elektrografika”, Cultural center, Nis, October 1997)

Digital prints

Since the beginning of the seventies, Andrej Tisma has been a part of the Vojvodinian art scene in a distinct, alternative and nonexclusive way. This artist has expressed his engaged relationship towards everyday life by means that are, themselves, a product of the world and time which he lives and creates in. Photographs are the main artifacts in his mail-art works, his Xeroxes and electro graphics, his video and computer web-art achievements. In keeping with the desired type of statement, Tisma utilizes photographs as documentary proof of a completed piece of work (actions, performances, records), as a creative gesture by which he expresses his own privacy and artistic personality (a series of Polaroids from the eighties), or he actualizes meaningful, engaging, at all times sarcastic and metaphorically rich conclusions about the current moment of humans of our time, by using found or scanned photographs.

In his works with photographs Andrej Tisma does not deal with issues of media authenticity. His approach towards the themes and functions of a photograph is modernistic due to the fact that everything is based on the elementary peculiarities of a photograph - it is the eternal segment of actuality and the personification of reality. Very often, Tisma intensifies this attitude to the ultimate consequences, especially in those works where a photograph is the document of the author's own privacy and the reflection of an honest and sincere confession.

In his series of photographs taken during the eighties (cycles and art-shows titled "Death Around the Eyes", 1985; "Danger", 1986-87; "Temptations", 1987-92), Tisma has insisted on rigid confrontations between Eros and Tanathos, on clashes between vitalist and catastrophic symptoms in order to accurately diagnose an individual's state of mind in social surroundings… During the art period of the nineties he holds on to similar principles, however, he no longer portrays the erotic and pornography solely as a personal act of confession, but as a sociological occurrence whose treatment in the encompassing mass-media system is equated with the inevitability of the daily news which - simultaneously - have the dignity of representative manifestations of the modern world's impulses but also the trivial meaning of expendable information goods… During the nineties of the now already previous century, Tisma's art is markedly critical towards the new world order, the USA and all the spiritual products of that social system, towards perverted events held in the completely advanced contemporary civilization (Natural Resorts, Collateral Art, American Art School, American Millennial Chocolates…). Not without reason, a while back, Daniel Stringer concluded in "Digital Arts" magazine (2001) that "anyone interested in understanding the political, artistic and ethical situation in the world today could start by looking at the Web.Art of Serbian artist Andrej Tisma", the art that, by utilizing photographs (as well as informational and communicational experiences of mail art and internet art) reaches witty, ironic, engaging and critically defined artistic conclusions about the very essence of the sensibility of the turning-point age for centuries and millennia.

In his series of prints from the suite "In my Room", Andrej Tisma sublimates his past authorial experiences and establishes a balance between his own intimate mood and the aggressive public eye. In his series of large photographs taken "in my room" privacy is merely an environment reached by the impulses of everyday life. At the beginning of this century, Tisma is a mature artist, a creative personality, who, in his own specific way, "chooses" and accepts the echoes of worldly events. In the plastic whole of his large photographs these "echoes" are defined by an inserted press shot as specific "evidence" of the existence of all those things which slip into our life, our soul, and our consciousness of the ruthlessness of everyday life and of miraculous human fate… The critical view of the artist with a new perspective on things is defined with precision in these photograph-computer creations. The whole of artist Andrej Tisma's engagement in "exploring his own surroundings, the archeology of privacy and the simultaneous registration of the world's impulses" seems like the artist's attempt, possibly even a desperate one, to assume the correct attitude towards the feeling of an epochal crisis, an attempt to find a measure for all things, to achieve spiritual harmony and balance, to reach his own being, himself.

Sava Stepanov
("Archeology Of Privacy" essay from the catalog "In My Room", Novi Sad, March 2005)

The meanings of Andrej Tisma's works reside and resound in the contrast between the perfection of the advertising image and the reality in which we actually live. Mr. Tisma would like us to be aware that these images exist to convince us to alter our behaviour, i.e., to purchase something which we might not have previously considered purchasing. Or, perhaps, more subtly, to act as yet another in a virtually endless string of such images that, taken in total over our lives, goes a long way toward influencing our thought, and circumscribing the possibilities of our thinking.

The advertiser must create a mythology of sorts, a visual mythology of perfection attainable through the product. Mr. Tisma undercuts that message by simply contrasting this false fable of fashion with the physical reality of the everyday, thus inserting a much-needed pin in the inflated bubble of our expectations. The point of his pin seems to be the contrast between the projection of an ideal, timeless, perfect product for consumption, with the everyday reality of decay and imperfection in which we actually live. Mr. Tisma’s collages thus lead us to discover interesting parallels between Platonic idealism and consumer advertising.

Mr. Tisma reminds us that decay and decomposition is inevitable. Timeless perfection is a chimera, all we can know is transformation.

And, didn't we know this already anyway? Mr. Tisma's works are here to remind us.

John Byrum

("Pin in the Inflated Bubble of Expectations", Catalog essay "Mental Survival, London, 2006

While the conflict of the former Yugoslavia has made its presence felt on the Internet, it has also led to some creative artistic endeavors. During the threat of NATO bombing, for instance, artist Andrej Tisma organized an Internet contest for the "humanitarian bombing of Serbia" in which contestants contributed bomb designs. The winner was awarded with a set of Monica Lewinsky's lips.

John Horvath
("Beating Breasts", Heise, Germany, November 7, 1998)

Andrej Tisma is another virtual friend of mine and we work on couple of web projects together. He is a funny and clever man who can reflect the bitter happy soul of the Balkans. He never lost his sense of humor even in war, under the air raid.

Genco Gulan
("Short Notices about web sites and some useful stuff", NY Arts Magazine, New York, USA, March 2000)

Andrej Tisma of Yugoslavia presents "Famous US Products," which connect US-based multinational corporations such as McDonald's and Coca-Cola with US military adverturism. "American Toys": fictitious toys combine US pop culture with weaponry. His "USA Questionnaire" puts US military action in historical context, referencing Iraq and Vietnam, and repression of Native Americans. Questionnaire places blame on Madeleine Albright and proposes that she be exterminated. In "Glorious Victory," Andrej Tisma juxtaposes soft pornography with missiles and bombs.

Trebor Scholz
("Carnival in the Eye of the Storm War / Art / New Technologies:
KOSOV@" , April 2000)

These days I had the chance to see Andrej Tisma' s newest work, "Adult Censored Pics". It is brilliant, as his works usually are. Maybe some will hurry to call it controversial, but I would say it is just realistic and brave. We have passed now the times when "the public opinion" was so easily shocked by any attempt of breaking some decency-laws, artificially imposed. This is what I think the art should do nowadays: to challenge, to break, to destroy prejudices and taboos, to open minds, to tell and reveal things that might be hidden.

I intended to place in the end of this short letter a final warning, something like " if you are hypocrite and easy to be offended do NOT go to see the work". But then my thought changed and I say now exactly the opposite: if you are hypocrite and easy to be offended DO go and see the work. Maybe it will change something in you.

Laura Duta
("Adult Censored Pics, or the Censorship as a Weapon"
Stop NATO list, April 15, 2000)

Anyone interested in understanding the political, artistic and ethical situation in the world today could start by looking at the Web.Art of Serbian artist Andrej Tisma. He offers an insight into complex issues with intelligence and creativity particular to his local situation but with international relevance. After experiencing his work you will feel compelled to consider your own circumstance and role in global society. Here I will begin to explain some background concerning the history and context of Tisma’s art followed by examples. His work however is vast and would need more space than is available here for a substantial representation that it deserves.

Tisma has a history of involvement in networked, communications-based art as seen in his mail art from the 70’s and 80’s to his early inclusion and participation in Internet Art projects and histories. He is therefore on these terms a respected producer and commentator on both movements. Tisma’s work follows the tradition of mail art and is part of a strand of Internet Art based on communication, collaboration and democracy rather than another formal and media-installation orientated variety of Internet Art that is also practiced. He is responsive to global events, producing art works reacting to situations concerning international politics, globalisation and the separation of individuals from the political process. The net as a medium allows for alternative opinion to spread as quickly as the media spin so typical of contemporary politics.

Ecology: geopolitics, society and the Internet

Ecology has been important to Tisma's work dating back to his mail art project 'Nature Gives...' in 1992 which served as a homage to nature and brought attention to catastrophic situations in the world. Since then he has expressed an extended interest in 'ecology', that is, relationships between living things and their environment or as Tisma puts it, “ecology is not only about clean air, water and healthy food but also about clean social relations and ethically clean deeds”.

Globalisation is an example of how these relationships are upset. Vast differences between rich and poor countries result in manipulation and corrupt use of national powers to further increase corporate expansion. This hovers above all and with it comes massive opposition in the form of demonstrations degenerating into riots by extremists and heavy-handed security forces. The enclosed and secret situations whereby ministers and corporate bosses discuss the future composition of the global economy, which in turn effects the lives and well being of many in exploited nations, causes distress amongst citizens excluded from the political process who turn to the streets. Tisma's work acts as a constructive protest, a creative healing process to both the lives of individuals and the sour relations cultivated between rulers and the ruled. His work sets a positive example of how communication and creativity provide the means to comment on ones position in the world.

The role of Art Institutions is also an important issue when considering Web.Art. Their privilege as brokers on art presentation and production is an authority the avant-garde has sought to dismantle. Internet Art, and Mail Art before it, seeks in the tradition of the avant-garde to operate independently of such institutions by producing a direct and immediate art form experienced between the creator and viewer without mediation or censorship. Tisma’s work exploits this situation enabling a critique easily communicated and digested. A networked community exists on the Internet and serves to lubricate artistic practices by providing a context for production and consumption of works.

Web Works

Tisma adopts a particular language suitable for the Internet sometimes appropriated from the targets of his critique or constructed as a game or puzzle imbued with humour and irony, often simple but direct. ‘New World Odour’ (*1) and ‘Adult censored Pics’ (*2) are both works imitating commercial web sites with a difference. The former presents a series of perfumes with cleverly worded marketing slogans and strategic names. For example a scent called IMF is accompanied with the description, “When you are in poor spirits and a bad mood this scent will give you the needed illusion of happiness.” The same goes for U.S.A., “it smells a little bit strange, in big amounts even disgusting. So use it very carefully or it could drive away your best friends.” These examples act as a snide but apt remark concerning their practices. Other varieties of perfume are included each with a name mimicking an institution of the New World Order complete with an adequate message. This piece acts as a light-hearted but serious comment on the forces of globalisation.

‘General Vision’(*3) heads Tisma’s ‘American Nightmare’ (*4) series on the web site. The page is divided into images showing the NATO General Clarke’s head and his military badges. Firstly users are instructed to test his senses by clicking on parts of his eyes, nose and ears. Images below the face change to depict devastating incidents, artillery and bombers from the military campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999. This symbolically replaces Clarke’s badges of achievement and status with gross acts committed during the war. In ‘testing’ his eyes, nose and hearing, the user is made aware of the senselessness of the acts committed. One is encouraged to imagine what generals actually see and hear and at what level they experience wars conducted at their command.

Within these web works the user is an active component reading and untangling the web specific languages whilst watching Tisma's ideas and beliefs unfold. Questions are raised concerning the users own opinions, confronting and challenging their position. In combining language with structure and ideas Tisma has ensured a successful artwork whereby the viewer leaves the piece but retains the message and purpose of it. In this case the ethical principles, an awareness of ones circumstances and the ability to engage with ones social and political environment. This is marked by Tisma’s personal experience as an individual in a society suffering as a result of the current geopolitical situation. Only by confronting such difficult issues will it be possible to repair and heal the damaged social ecology. That is the position held by Tisma as understood through his works all of which must be experienced for a complete understanding of his concerns, wit and creativity.

Daniel Stringer
(“Ecological Ethics: Politics and communication
in Andrej Tisma's Web.Art”,
“Digital Arts” no 3, Novi Sad, August, 2001)


*1 -

*2 -

*3 -

*4 -

The United States may not realize up to what extent its image as an imperial power has developed around the world. One of the most alarming pieces inspired by Anti-Americanism that I have experienced online is Andrej Tisma's "American Art School", which consists of a series of photo-stills presenting U.S. American soldiers destroying images of Saddam Hussein. The net project appropriates the photos in order to present U.S. soldiers as conquerors rather than saviors of Iraq.

The war with Iraq is obviously a very delicate matter, which consists of so many variables that it would be impossible for me to write a just analysis in this short review. But, one thing that can be sensed in many net projects that spurred around the web as the war with Iraq developed is a sense of anger combined with fear of what a super-power could do around the world. This is the image that the U.S. now has to demistify, and this may prove to be a bigger battle than any other fought up to this point.

Andrej Tisma's "American Art School" exposes the ideological global crisis the U.S. faces. Tisma's piece does demonize the United States; and while such extremism exhausts any criticism from Tisma's work, what should be noted is its alarming message: that the U.S. is dealing with a much bigger problem than finding weapons of mass destruction.

Eduardo Navas
("Netartreview", June 19, 2003)


Andrej Tisma, one of the leading international contemporary artists, works with a variety of artistic media including video art. The main characteristic of his videos is that they are short and, when seen together, explicitly complex.

Contemporary society and changes in the modern world clearly affect his sensibility and manner of artistic expression. Political and social environments, war, social misery, the changing of social systems, disease, and total chaos of the "new order” have clearly made a marked impression on his video work. The United States, as the global superpower in this “new world order”, has had a strong influence on Tisma’s videos, and he reacts through them in a spirited style. He depicts with realistic detail, the situation of individuals in the world which are induced by the will of the mightiest.

The four video works, each about one minute in length, clearly lead us to the world of media by using TV shows, news items, and historical and documentary programs. These media collages combine artistic views of the ephemeral with contemporary ideas and sound as a means of expression. The video works 'Advertising Mental Survival', 'Positive – Negative', 'In My Room', and 'Watch Those Bushes' make an integral and spellbinding series.

The world of advertising combined with the intimacy and voyeurism of his own living quarters in relation to media happenings present the everyday overflow of glamor and war. The brains of those people who are powerful enough to regulate the processes of our lives, the cruel presence of death seen in both war games and computer games--- all of these are plays on present reality in Tisma's four videos.

Tisma indicates the nonsense and absurdity of those who have been presumptuous enough to lead the world into some yet-unrecognized-course. What becomes clear is that there is no humanity, no pity; only human or inhumane feelings. However, Tisma gives a new dimension via a dark and satirical humor.

An observer of Tisma's videos will undoubtedly be left with amusement given the satirical imagery and media scenes. He refers the viewer to historical moments making the documentary with a critical eye. Tisma overcomes the references and empowers them.

With humor, Tisma discloses the sheer propaganda of the media with whom world forces are finding excuses for new wars and world dictatorship. Above all the humor and plays leave a strong impression. The spirited sensibility of this contemporary artist encourages us and leaves us with a positive impulse...Telling in his own clear attitude: be a mental winner.

Biljana Mickov
("The Satire of Media Lies", "Polja", Novi Sad, 2006)

Digital prints

Ever since he wrote his first pieces of writing and ventured out of painting, Andrej Tisma has – in various media but persistently and consciously – been scratching visible faces and invisible matrixes of the world, testing the world’s and his own moral rationale, poring - in an artistic way - on the reality as well as on its media prostheses in an effort to wake up his own and the Other consiousness on the level of artistic action. His are, therefore, the kinds of artistic performances which do not only count on their artistic completeness and whatever feedback may be born in the minds of the assumed audiences, but also – almost in a romantic way – count on a palpable consequential change in the order of the physical, biological, virtual and political body of the world which he touches and disolves with his incorruptible art-machinery.

On the contents and subject matter level, on the other hand, Tisma juggles dedicated brandomaniac and polit-mythomaniac cults of the global day-to-day world, emptying their auras or filling them with acrid indications of his personal, often incidental counter-perceptions.

In short, the mellow countenance and visually polished techno-prints of our artist are concealing one of the world most consistent art commentators and opponents of the post-Debordian „Society of the Spectacle” and its globalistic political extensions. His minimalistically brilliant directness in expression has already won, if not the final, victorious result in the struggle with whatever he had undertaken to fight, then at any rate a high position and a secure place in the world of museums and galleries as temples served by the public servants of the same „Society of the Spectacle”.

Vladimir Kopicl

Foreword to the Catalogue of Andrej Tisma’s exhibition „Transition: Impossible”,
Gallery of Contemporary Art Pancevo, February 2007

Digital and internet art

As early as in his works dating back to the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Andrej Tisma presaged that he would cultivate his own distinctive form of expression. Namely, his works – both those preceeding the mid-1990’s, when he accepted the computer and the internet as means and space, and those that followed – point to an author who is very sensitive to the time in which he creates, but at the same time searches for his own proprietary forms of expression within the accepted rules of the arts. At the beginning, those were photographs, postcards and stamps. During the 1980’s he was totally devoted to art as communication, creating a unique mail-art project in this region.

Starting in the mid-1990’ he introduced into his creative work the computer and the internet, which, on one hand helped him to communicate, and which on the other hand he used as creative tools and, thirdly, they became a new space in which he moved.

This is why we can say that the work of Andrej Tisma is a stand-alone phenomenon in the Serbian art which could occasionally baffle even experienced professionals.

What is characteristic of Tisma’s recent production is the fact that he still understands art as a part of communication process. Like a modern virtual nomad, he roams the world and communicates with the entire world while sitting in his room. And the other way round: the whole world flows into Tisma’s field of artistic perception through his computer monitor. Since communication is global and momentary, Tisma’s works of art respect these principles and this is why his form is short and compressed and he uses generally familiar and recognizable presentations with all their symbols, while his response technique to global impulses is the collage principle in building up his work of art.

Sava Ristovic
Radio Belgrade 2, „Znakovi”, April 2007

Andrej tisma’s sound works

Andrej Tisma wisely calls this kind of his work „Sound Works”, because it is hard to classify them according to the usual categories of the art of music, even including electro-acoustic and computer music. In the beginning, the „sound works” were mostly components of syncretic entities (video-art,, performance). Once extracted from this context – as we have seen – they live their audio-lives, for which the most appropriate media are just the radio and sound carriers. It is interesting to note that independent as they have become the sound works of Andrej Tisma keep the main characteristics of his multimedia works: collage, quotations, mystification, intervention, „unusualizing”, and, above all – engagement.

Tisma utilizes instant sounds from the rich computer audio-palette, sound base of popular video games, rhythm machine, recordings (from Bach to turbo-folk, techno music and Esma Redzepova), blending them into an integral whole, with good measure and taste.

The author focuses on „short forms”, therefore he is more up-to-date and closer to the sensibility of the contemporary listener. In these works, like in Tisma’s other creations, one cannot fail but notice his engagement before all against war, against globalization, violent behaviour, militarization, trash, kitsch and self-advertising. Sound collages are socially engaged and just for this purpose stripped, unadorned – advertising sounds, military orders from video games or rhythm machine have an even more forceful, violent and aggressive impact.

Dusan Mihalek
„Polja”, 9-10. Novi Sad, September 2007

The sound works of Andrej Tisma have been positioned as an elaborated auditive image of the author’s idea that engagement in the arts can be embodied, not as art value as such, but rather as a clearly directed effect of perlocutional performance. This, in turn, according to Austin’s analysis, would mean that his artistic act in fact does not only strive towards some change in the otherwise variable pattern of the art system, but that it most seriously counts on the consequences which are equally both beyond aesthetics, but also effectual in an all-encompassing planetary ambiance.

The first association of a relatively well-educated listener to Tisma’s sound work most frequently leads to an exorcist reminder of a paradigmatic album of the 1980’s – My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by David Byrne and Brian Eno, a cultic example of extatic sampling, of which some people thought that it was a small technical revolution in production, whilst the album, according to subsequent testimony of Brian Eno, was supposed to express the contemporary world in minimalist terms through newly recomposed, polyrhythmic unatainable „dark heart of Africa” freed from casual singleminded ethno melodies. That chaotic internal component of the old sound is a clear derivative of this new, Tisma’s sound, particularly in its semantically legible, linguistic component, which expresses and ironically exposes the forceful shadows of the current aggressive wing of the civilization which exhausts itself in attempting to found a globalistic monoculture and economic exploitation-based mega machinery which effuses and imposes only a weakening rhythm of proclamatory progress while eliminating all other differences with the symbolic polyphonous murmur of „Africa”, i.e. the unaccustomed Other in front. Or on the floor.

In the Dictionary of Electro-acoustic Music complied by its Serbian pioneer Vladan Radovanovic, the entry „Electro-acoustic music” reads as follows: Introduced as a medium – a world of new sounds and set of techniques – rose to the status of a style, due to limitations and specific features on all levels, and finally – with multiple increase of realizational powers – almost lost its stylistic characteristics now to become a medium of all styles. Something similar could be said about this para-cockpit refraction of voices, harmonies, styles, messages and even linguistic, ethnic and ethic fractures and crossings which are not Tisma’s goals, but which are used and sampled by him. Except that in this sense a medium and its capacity might rather imply a good spirit or rebelious will of the artist himself than any kind of media or artistic interface, even if it were both music and the baby brother of the hoe – the computer.

Vladimir Kopicl
„Izba” Club, Novi Sad, September 2007

One of the most prominent figures of the Novi Sad alternative scene, Andrej Tisma has throughout his activities tirelessly, inventively and with curiosity researched into the modes of expression of various fields of artistic practice, from literature to new multimedial art forms, such as performances, printed multiplied artefacts, e.g. rubber-stamps, but also digital art and web-art. In doing so, he has always been in the ranks of the most topical and leading creative personalities and theoreticians in the new and alternative artistic circles. This is why his new preoccupation with digitally created tonal and sound collages, facilitated in the recent years by the head-spinning development of computer technology, looks totally logical and natural.

Straightforward and direct artistic engagement is the key element of Tisma’s sound works, the basis of which is made up of heavy, rolling and yapping repetitive machinery rhythms, juxtaposed in a collage to samples of sounds and voices of human talk, exclamations, laughter, melodies of the Guca trumpet players or contorted melismas of Arab songs – all of this creating a fantasmagorical tonal web, stirring and chaotic at the same time, like an auditive reflection of the similarly chaotic life of today.

Tisma’s sound works, the titles of which – „Peace Mission”, „Power Station Destroyed”, „Friendly Fire” or „German Picnic In The Balkans” – truly reflect the author’s clear and direct engagement. His works, sometimes frightening, sometimes consciously childish, and at other times self-ironic, have been created as an expression of protest against contemporary global phenomena: globalization, militarism, hipocrisy of world politics, dehumanisation and self-advertising. They have been shaped as straight, naked and violent statements, so that listening to these sound works of Tisma’s, accompanied by adequate video projections, do not leave indifferent anybody in the audience.

Borislav Hlozan
„Dnevnik”, Novi Sad, 4.7.2008.

На Растку објављено: 2008-01-03
Датум последње измене: 2008-01-03 23:03:42

Пројекат Растко / Књижевност / Сигнализам