The Dark Alter

Program The Dark Alter (2012)

Being an exchange student in Ljubljana in 2009 stimulated me to learn more about my persistent interest in Alternative culture, music and deviant practices. Coming from France, the exploration of a different cultural background such as the occurrence of alternative scene in Ljubljana presented a great and interesting challenge for me.

After attending two seminars The Popular Culture, and The Anthropology of Complex Systems at the Faculty of Arts (Rajko Muršič, Phd full professor), I have chosen to write my thesis about Dark Culture (e.g. Gothic, New Dark and Cold Wave, Punk, Hard Core) in Ljubljana from the eighties till today.

The 21st century is definitely the century of advanced technologies, multimedia, diversification of knowledge as well as individual and artistic practices.

If we take music as our starting point, today nobody can really ignore the impact of techno, hip-hop or even rock music. Indeed, we can say that various artistic (in our case musical) movements have recently changed our world and our post-modern society. They are everywhere and have given rise to a multitude of new social groups and subgroups. While one can boast about being up to date by knowing about Daft Punk or Lady Gaga, most of us ignore the real impact and operation of these subgroups, which gave birth to the popular culture.

Indeed, apart from the tons of bands and artists that we call mainstream music, there are many that have been rejected by the system. For instance, while we can say that the Dark Culture is known to the public, it is, however, not as widely known as hip-hop or pop. Furthermore, the Dark movement is often subject to some unfortunate stereotypes about morbid practices, macabre thoughts, teenage depression and strange behaviours, whereas in fact, it forms an important part of political and social criticism in the Society. This movement encompasses many subgroups connected to each other by complex systems, ranging far beyond the sharing of musical tastes or style whatsoever.

Dark Culture appears as a specific way of life, built around a cult of underground music and the sharing of several practices. It is a rather obscure subculture, and yet it is based on the principles of complex social networks.

However, this subculture is contemporary and is an umbrella for a very large number of individuals. It therefore seems important to dig deeper into the topic.

We must therefore wonder, what is so unique about this system that it brings all of these subgroups together under the concept of Dark Culture for years?

To address this issue, it is necessary to talk about the history of the movement. It first appeared as such in the United-Kingdom between the late 1970s and early 1980s. All previous research on the subject has clearly shown that it is the result of a complex mixture of British Punk, New Wave inspired by artistic movements such as German expressionism etc. As mentioned previously, the movement is often linked to the Gothic subgroup, because it is the most popular. Indeed, the term gothic officially appeared in 1983, and was later made quite popular by the media and music journalists during this period.

Our focus, however, will be more specific on the evolution of the general Dark Culture movement in Slovenia from the early eighties to nowadays.

I have a special interest in the role of FV Group (a theatre and multimedia group that started performing in the early eighties), and AKC Metelkova mesto (Avtonomni kulturni center Metelkova mesto / Autonomous Cultural Centre Metelkova City – a former military district squatted from September 1993). In the great evolution of the scene – through the eighties and nineties, facing political changes such as the Independence of Slovenia – but also in Slovenian artists such as Laibach and Borghesia I recognise the signs of the emergence of a typical European alternative style.

In order to explore this part of the cultural production in more detail, I started working at SCCA-Ljubljana, Center for Contemporary Art – a non-governmental and non-profit organization for contemporary art – as a volunteer for digital archiving at the DIVA Station as a part of my master studies at University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Department of Media, Culture and Communication. DIVA Station is a physical and web archive of video and new-media art which has been developing since 2005, and is one of SCCA projects that seek to research, document and archive video/new-media art. During my volunteer work, I was closely dealing with video material, which gave me a general overview of the Slovenian video production from the late sixties to nowadays. This experience enabled me to quickly familiarize with the subject thanks to a large number of art and documentary videos dealing with the emergence of the alternative scene in Slovenia, and to add the importance of video production in former Yugoslavia to my topic.

In this process, I was able to generally distinguish between two phases through the evolution of the alternative scene: The first is obviously the eighties with FV group, the role of groups like Laibach and Borghesia, and finally the opening of the club K4. And then come the nineties followed by the independence of Slovenia and the ‘Metelkova Age’.

The selection is chronologically presented in order to show the evolution of the alternative scene through video and music as Medias, but also to reveal the important role of some names such as Neven Korda, Zemira Alabegović and the band Laibach who appear to be a thread from the beginning until the end of the selection.

Sixtine Rose Boyer

Sixtine Rose Boyer worked in summer 2012 as a volunteer at the DIVA Station material and on-line archive of video art. Simultaneously, she is a postgraduate student of Triple Master Degree (Medias, Culture and Communication) at University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Europa-Universität Vidarina of Frankfurt an der Oder and University St Kliment Ohridski of Sofia. The starting point of her thesis is the exploration of so-called Dark Culture (i.e. Gothic, New Dark and Cold Wave, Punk, Hard Core) in Slovenia and more specifically in Ljubljana from the beginning of the 80s till today. Predominantly, she is researching the role of groups and movements like FV Group, Borghesia, Laibach and AKC Metelkova City.