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Bogdanka Poznanovi , Akcija srce predmet. 1970. Marinko Sudac Collection. Akcija Srce Predmet [Action Heart-Object], Bogdanka Poznanovi , 1970. Marinko Sudac Collection. Image courtesy of Nottingham Contemporary.Nottingham Contemporary s new group exhibition, which documents the intricacies of Yugoslavia s Communist Government and the people under its rule, teaches Francesca Donovan a history lesson like no other.

I knew little of the history of Yugoslavia as I walked through the sliding glass doors of Nottingham Contemporary, out of the cold and into the warm embrace of an education which reaches further than my prescriptive A Level History classes. At the very least, an education was what I expected fromMonuments Should Not Be Trusted , the gallery s new exhibition curated by Lina D uverovi .

In fact, what I came away with was so much more than a political history lesson.

Nottingham Contemporary s new group show follows the trajectory of the Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as seen through the eyes of the country s contemporary artists; 24 of them, to be precise, as well as two artists collectives.

Flag, Sven Stilinovi , Flag, 1984/85. Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb. Image courtesy of Nottingham Contemporary.

I read into the nuances of Rhythm 5 (1974/1994) performance stills and writings by Marina Abramovi . I played the voyeur to Sanja Ivekovi s Double Life (1975); her candid black and white self portraits, juxtaposed with female deodorant advertisements ripped from glossy mags.

I giggled at Goran Djordjevic s cutting sense of humour depicted through an examination of domestic bliss in the cartoon series, States of Modernity II (1985). I watched the OHO group start fires and smoke out the landscape in the monochrome film, White People (1970).

The creatives showcased here worked in an engaging conceptual style which had never been seen before in Yugoslavia. Their outspoken criticism of the Yugoslav political system relegated their new art practices to the peripheries of cultural hubs like Zagreb and Belgrade and so they were omitted from the accepted history of Yugoslav art. Now, D uverovi brings their satirical, anarchic works together in an explosion of noise and colour that shrieks:Monuments should not be trusted!

Katalin Ladik, Identification, Action, Akademie der Bildenen Kunste, Vienna. 1975. Courtesy of acb Gallery, Budapest Identification, Katalin Ladik, 1975. Action. Akademie der Bildenen Kunste, Vienna. Courtesy of acb Gallery, Budapest.

The exhibition documents the golden years of President Josip Broz Tito s communist government and the contradictions of a regime that promised an impossibly equal and prosperous society, while it battled waves of utopian consumerism and Western culture with an arsenal of mass spectacles and Tito-worship.

For those of you intimidated by the complex, academic issues which surround the political history of a country, fear not. Luckily the artists selected to represent Yugoslavia - much like artists of all epochs - have captured the spirit of a nation through their individual practices. It is the expert translation of the zeitgeist, rather than the works academic underpinnings, that make this exhibition so engaging.

OHO/Na ko Kri nar, Projekt 6, 1969. Marinko Sudac Collection Projekt 6, OHO/Na ko Kri nar, 1969. Marinko Sudac Collection. Image courtesy of Nottingham Contemporary.

Although the language that permeates the exhibition is foreign to me and Yugoslavia isgeographically worlds apart from anything I have known, there is something incredibly familiar about the spirit projected onto canvas, television screen and gallery wall by the artists.

Tomislav Gotovac, Streaking, 1971. Collection Sarah Gotovac / Courtesy Tomislav Gotovac Institute, Zagreb Streaking, Tomislav Gotovac, 1971. Collection of Sarah Gotovac. Courtesy of Tomislav Gotovac Institute, Zagreb.

The multitude of video installations offer a glossy, sympathetically edited and all-encompassing look at the consumer culture that the reportedly apathetic and depoliticised youth of Yugoslavia absorbed wholeheartedly from the West. The rather dulcet tones of traditional Slavic music that plays throughout the galleries drift through my headphones as I watch young musicians writhe around, clutching their electric guitars in Rockn Roll music videos.

OHO/Marko Poga nik, Rolling Stones Matchboxes. 1968. Marinko Sudac Collection Rolling Stones Matchboxes, OHO/Marko Poga nik, 1968. Marinko Sudac Collection. Image courtesy of Nottingham Contemporary.

Karpo Godina s psychedelic film The Gratinated Brains of Pupilija Ferkeverk (1970) embraces hippy drug culture whilst the OHO group s experimental super-8 films soundtrack their political messages with anthems by Cream and The Rolling Stones.

The significance of two worlds colliding is not lost.

The use of collage in both the artists individual practice - with particular finesse by Avgusternigoj and Tomislov Gotovac - and in the curation, brings to mind a teenage mood board, reactionary outpourings pinned to bedroom walls, alongside icons of fashion, pop and film.

Augusternigoj, La rivolta dei giovani (the Rebellion of the young) 1972. Kobilarna Lipica, Galerija Avgusternigoj Lipica, Slovenija / Lipica Stud Farm, Gallery of Augusternigoj, Slovenia La rivolta dei giovani [The Rebellion of the Young], Augusternigoj, 1972. Lipica Stud Farm, Gallery of Augusternigoj, Slovenia. Image courtesy of Nottingham Contemporary.As my mind wandered away from a desire to question and challenge the art showcased here, distracted by the abundance of aesthetic prowess, I stumble across The Edinburgh Statement as put by artist Ra a Todosijevi in Belgrade on 21 April 1975. This piece, presented both in writing and via audio asks:Who makes profit from art and who gains from it honestly? Todosijevi s surprising, funny, dark, witty answers to this question - comprising a list of over 200 responses - bring me crashing back down to earth.

The volume of engaging work - over 100 pieces altogether - puts my senses into overdrive and I flit from piece to piece, gaining understanding of the complexities of Yugoslavia in the 70s and 80s more and more with each wonderful artistic distraction. The experience is one of jittery excitement, and to me, it seems fleeting. But after checking my watch, I realise I have been in the four galleries of Nottingham Contemporary for many hours.

Monuments Should Not Be Trusted runs from 16 January 4 March 2016. Admission is free. Galleries are closed on Monday.

nottinghamcontemporary.org