Sven Stilinovic was part of the Group of Six artists that created exhibition-actions in public spaces in Zagreb and across Croatia in the 1970s. His early photographic performances presage his later endeavors in ritualistic sacrificial actions, as they involve the binding, wrapping or masking of the artist. In Untitled from 1980, for example, the artist is bound with a rope and gagged with a piece of tape over his mouth. In another piece, he is completely covered in gauze, like a mummy. In his later performances, however, he would cover his face with a cow’s heart.
Sven’s series of performances, which he has now done around 8 or 9 times, is entitled Geometry of Bloodthirstiness. Each instantiation is different, however all of the performances involve ritualistic sacrifice and killing of an animal – usually a lamb. In some of the performances the artist cooks the sacrificed animal and eats it, sharing it with the audience. In other performances he has various projections on the wall as he is making the sacrifice – for example, a recording of Jack Welch giving an angry speech.
The artist draws on our own animalistic instincts that are intrinsic to all, and harnesses that energy to perhaps purge contemporary society. He sees the contemporary world as aggressive, especially in terms of the neo-liberal model of capitalism, which destroys industry and causes death in a different way. The artist says that he doesn’t know if these sacrifices will help, but he sees it as the only way to attempt to cleanse our society.