New East Digital Archive

The only truth: Novi Sad mural disappearance sparks anger

23 March 2017

Protests broke out last week after a prominent mural in Serbia’s second city, Novi Sad, was unexpectedly painted over. The artist behind the mural, French-born Guillaume Alby, also known as Remed, believes that the city authorities lie behind its disappearance.

The mural in question, titled The Only Truth, was painted over on 16 March. Many angered by its erasure, including Remed himself, have suggested that this choice of date was highly significant — a rally for Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić ahead of the 2 April presidential elections was due to take place just two days later in Novi Sad.

The 2009 mural depicts a deathly monster-like puppeteer attempting to control two human figures with strings. This plan is thwarted, however, as the humans cut their strings and liberate themselves.

“It makes sense that he [Mr Vučić] wouldn’t appreciate this symbol of freedom standing over his fragile charisma,” Remed remarked.

In protest of the whitewashing of the mural, street art enthusiasts painted the form of a penis where the mural had been. Undeterred when this too was covered over, the innovative artists simply painted another one.

Convinced that the city authorities were behind the operation, a group of demonstrators gathered on 19 March. According to one of the protest organisers, Nenad Jelovac, at least three permits would have been needed to paint the wall.

“Approval for the machinery to enter the pedestrian area, a permit from the city service for the protection of cultural heritage and one from the urban planning department” would be necessary, Jelovac explained. “These things cannot be done [without official approval].”

The city government, however, denies any involvement.

“We are planning … to dedicate space for several murals by local and renowned international artists, which is also proof that we support this [form of] art,” said city council member Dalibor Rožić, also affirming that the authorities would investigate what had happened to The Only Truth. Nevertheless, he asserted that the city would not permit “political rhetoric to be unnecessarily imposed onto culture”.

Source: Balkan Insight