KOLARIĆ by Marko Lulić

The historic moment lies 40 years in the past: the presidents of the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions and the Chamber of Commerce agreed to take in immigrants to Austria for economic reasons – the birth of the "Gastarbeiter". Forty years of assimilation and integration into working and social life do not appear to have been enough. Racism and xenophobia have again become socio-political issues, not least because of current law on the employment of foreigners. Reason enough to remember the legendary sentence from Max Frisch: "We have called for workers, people have come."

The artist Marko Lulić comes from a Serbo-Croat immigrant family, was born in Vienna in 1972 and has developed a varied meta-language which operates with knowledge and criticism of utopias and historical avant-garde movements in the former Yugoslavia. Lulić subjects the "visuals" of the communist multiracial state to a derisive revision: he "improves" the bombastic monuments to the partisans through material transfers and size reductions, he ironically contrasts the internationalism of functionalist Yugoslavian architecture with Vienna regionalism of the time, he goes on the trail of "modernity in YU", translates everyday design and graphic art into sculptures, objects and pictures and gives the old malicious new form.

Lulić's contribution to the poster project "Worlds of Work" for the Chamber of Labour, Vienna, is also a kind of a check-up. He examines the area of application of the Gastarbeiter myth, of Gastarbeiter folklore in the socio-cultural aggregate of the 21st century and adds another facet to the parable of the minorities.

The famous "Kolaric" poster comes from 1973 and was developed by the Lintas advertising agency for the campaign "Fellow Citizen" by the Austrian advertising industry. It was intended to promote better integration of foreigners living and working in Austria, tolerance towards the "Tschuschen", the derogatory word for the "foreigners" from south-eastern Europe. The poster shows a tall man, whose name is really Kolaric and who at the time worked at the St. Marx slaughterhouse in Vienna, and a short Austrian boy, recognisable as such because of his lederhosen, who asks the disarming question: "My name's Kolaric, your name's Kolaric, why do they call you 'Tschusch'?" The prize-winning campaign by the International Advertising Association was an outstanding success. Since then the poster has become a symbol and an icon of the "Gastarbeiter".

Lulić works with serial repetition of the original poster and a translation into the typographical, for which he draws on the Serbo-Croat spelling and one of the many German ways of writing the name. Lulić is a connector and uses the grammar of quote, appropriation and transfer in a polished contrast instead of mixing them by shaking. The strategic appropriation of another picture wakes new interest in all too well-known themes through the synchronous shift into another mediality.

Nowhere does racism manifest itself so clearly as in everyday language, and nowhere do ethnocentric enemy images establish themselves more tenaciously. Current resistance art production with a melancholy background: it can cause desperation when, through polarisation in a constantly xenophobic climate, people who have lived in the country for 40 years are still perceived as foreigners and guests, in fact as "Gastarbeiter".