The Croatian conceptual artist, film director, actor and performer Tomislav Gotovac was born in Sombor, Serbia, on February 9, and died in Zagreb on June 25, 2010. Since 1941, he lived and worked in Zagreb, where he graduated from the classics gymnasium, briefly studied architecture and worked as a clerk in a bank and a hospital. He moved to Belgrade in 1967 and graduated from the Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1976. After graduation he returned to Zagreb.
Gotovac was considered a pioneer of performances in Yugoslavia, with the first one staged in Mostar in 1954. He is best remembered for his performances, as well as displaying his own naked body in them. He published his actions (performances) in the youth university student magazines Student list and Polet. Other domains in which he has left a significant mark are directing and acting. One of Gotovac’s most significant performances was participation in the film Plastic Jesus in 1972, after which he was politically persecuted and barred from graduation until 1976. According to Zora Cazi-Gotovac, the artist did not how Lazar Stojanović would direct the film, and was unpleasantly surprised to see the film assume a political dimension.
Gotovac was a member of the Croatian Association of Artists (HDLU), and received their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. In honour of his mother, he changed his name to Antonio G. Lauer in 2005. After the artist's death, his wife and daughter, with the help of the art historian Darko Šimičić, founded the Tomislav Gotovac Institute. The Institute was established in 2012, and it contains Gotovac's legacy and a rich archive.
Gotovac said of himself that he always strived to be different: ˝I know what most people think about my work, character, and opus. Ever since I became artistically conscious, I have never belonged to anyone. I've always been some sort of avant-garde, although I do not like to use the word avant-garde, it's foreign to me.˝
- Zagreb, Croatia
Vladimir (Vlado) Gotovac (Imotski, September 18, 1930 - Rome, December 7, 2000) is a Croatian writer, poet, philosopher, journalist and politician and one of the most famous Croatian cultural oppositionists from the socialist period. Due to his advocacy of pluralistic democracy, he was persecuted by the Communist authorities.
He attended elementary school in Prnjavor (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Župa Biokovska and Lovreć, and secondary school in Imotski and Zagreb, where he graduated from the Classical Gymnasium. He graduated with a degree in philosophy from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Zagreb.
He began to publish poems in the journal Tribina in 1952 and then began to publish philosophical and art critiques, essays, stories and radio dramas in other publications. In 1955, he was employed as a journalist and editor of the culture and drama department of the Zagreb Radio-Television (RTZ) where he worked until his arrest in 1972. At that time, he also edited the journals Međutim (1953) and Razlog (1969), and from July to December 1971 he was the editor-in-chief of Hrvatski tjednik (Croatian Weekly), a newspaper published by Matica hrvatska that advocated the program of the Croatian national movement (Croatian Spring).
As editor of Hrvatski tjednik, but also because of his uncompromising critical writing, Gotovac was one of the most prominent persons of the Croatian Spring in 1971. Due to his work in the field of culture, he was, with a dozen Croatian intellectuals, arrested in January 1972 under the indictment that he wanted to overthrow the socialist system in Yugoslavia. He was sentenced to four years in prison with an additional three-year loss of civil rights, and endured the entire sentence, not seeking any pardon.
He did not adhere to the prohibition against public speech, and after he granted an interview to foreign journalists in 1977, he was again indicted and in 1981 sentenced to two years in prison, and another four year loss of civil rights. At that trial, he stated: "The only purpose of my work is to strive to secure a righteous, human, just and free community - for everyone and everywhere; a community that does not only tolerate diversity but rather delights in it (…). Such a happy and diverse world - that is my dream! If I have to be tried because of that, I consent to it because without that dream, neither I nor my work have any purpose". (https://vladogotovac.org/).
As one of the most important advocates of liberal ideas in Croatia at the end of the 1980s, he was politically engaged. In May 1989, together with Slavko Goldstein and Dražen Budiša, he founded the first Croatian political party formed after the reintroduction of a multi-party system (HSLS - Croatian Social Liberal Union). In 1990, after 18 years of unemployment and isolation, he was been employed by the Croatian Radio Television (HRT) as an advisor to the Director General. In that same year, he was elected president of the then restored Matica hrvatska and was in charge until February 1996, when he was elected chairman of the HSLS (then renamed to Croatian Social Liberal Party). After a rift in the HSLS (November 1997), he established a new political party of the centre - the Liberal Party (LS), and served as its chairman until his death in 2000. He was elected to the Croatian Parliament three times (1992, 1995 and 2000), and in 1997 he was the presidential candidate of a group of oppositional parties.
In addition to his poetry and philosophical works, he wrote some books in which he spoke of his prison experiences in communism. In his book Zvjezdana kuga (Gotovac 1995), he published his prison records from 1972 and 1973, and the book Moj slučaj (Gotovac 1989) contains his defence speeches on the 1981 trial. His collected works were published in 1995 in seven books (Hekman 1995), and his poems have been included in almost all anthologies of contemporary Croatian poetry and translated into Albanian, English, French, German, Romanian, Italian and some Slavic languages. He was awarded the City of Zagreb Award (1968) and the Tin Ujević Award (1991). In Croatian history, he is mostly remembered as an ever-engaged intellectual, poet and brilliant speaker. In memory of his life and work, the Vlado Gotovac Institute was founded in 2001, and in 2009 a website dedicated to him (https://vladogotovac.org/) was launched.
- Imotski, Croatia 21260
- Metropolitan City of Rome, Rome, Italy
- Zagreb, Croatia
- Budapest Kossuth Lajos tér 12, Hungary 1055
Graur, Valeriu (b. 23 December 1940, Reni, Southern Bessarabia, now in Odessa region, Ukraine; d. 15 September 2012, Bucharest, Romania) was the third most important member of the group. He hailed from a well-to-do family, which was deported to Siberia in June 1941. He spent his early youth first in a special settlement there, and then in Tomsk. His family was rehabilitated and was allowed to repatriate directly to Romania, in 1956. A number of their relatives had already settled there previously. Refusing to move to Romania permanently, Graur returned to Soviet Moldavia in 1959 and the following year was admitted to the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of the Tiraspol Pedagogical Institute. Gheorghe Ghimpu was one of his instructors there. After graduating from the Institute in 1965, he worked for several years as a school teacher in Southern Moldavia and, then, from 1969, in Chișinău. Starting from 1963, he frequently travelled to Romania to visit his parents. During an extended stay in Bucharest in the summer of 1968, he met two of the prominent Bessarabian-born national activists, Pan Halippa and Gherman Pântea, and also witnessed Ceaușescu’s August 1968 speech. This seemingly contributed to the radicalisation of his views. Starting from 1970, he petitioned the Soviet authorities for emigration to Romania to join his parents and other relatives. In late 1971, Ghimpu entrusted him with several letters and memorandums that Graur was to deliver to Radio Free Europe after his arrival in Bucharest. During the search of Graur’s apartment in January 1972, a copy of one such document was uncovered by the KGB (see Masterpieces). Graur was arrested in March 1972 and sentenced to four years in a high-security labour correction colony. After being released in 1976, he was finally allowed to go to Romania the following year, after threatening the authorities with a public protest. Subsequently, he remained in Romania, where he was active in various organisations lobbying for reunification with Bessarabia (e.g., the Pro Bessarabia and Bukovina Association).
- Chișinău, Moldova
Ferenc Grezsa was born in Kiskunmajsa on 16 July 1932 and died in Hódmezővásárhely on 12 July 1991. He was a Hungarian literary historian, critic, editor, and university instructor. From 1942 to 1948, he was a student at the Piarist Secondary School in Kecskemét, and he then spent two years pursuing studies at the József Katona Secondary Grammar School. In 1952, he began teaching in Kistelek. In 1956, he graduated with a degree in literature from the University of Szeged. Grezsa taught at the Bethlen Gábor High School in Hódmezővásárhely from 1957 until 1975, and he became the director of this institute in 1962. In 1975, he became the director of the Department of Hungarian Literature in the Juhász Gyula Teacher Training Faculty at the University of Szeged. At this time, he chose his field of research. He decided to focus on the works of László Németh, a writer who was on the edge of being banned under the system at the time. In 1976, he became a member of the Academic Committee in Szeged and the Hungarian Writers’ Association. In 1978, Grezsa became a member of International Hungarian Philological Society. In 1981, he became the main editor of Kincskereső, a magazine for children. In 1984, he became an associate professor at the Attila József University (today the University of Szeged), and in 1990, he became a professor at this university.
- Szeged, Hungary