Art is a Fanaticism that Demands Diplomacy

WWII image taken by Yevgeni Khaldey. Laibach was always present.

Laibach has finally returned to North America for a very short tour. If you’re in Portland or Seattle, I hope you saw them. If you’re in San Francisco, Hollywood, New York or Mexico City, you’re in luck! Click here for tour dates.

There are many reasons why this is my favorite band, and most of them actually don’t have much to do with the music. It’s the stories: weird, fantastical events that surround this band in which art, politics, history, media and human nature intersect in unexpected ways. My favorite Laibach story is this: in 1992, they group established the NSK State, a virtual “state in time.” Citizenship to the NSK State came complete with a very realistic-looking passport, and anyone could apply. Applications could be found at concerts and in the back of certain art books. In 1995, Laibach concluded their NATO tour in besieged Sarajevo. They declared Sarajevo to be NSK territory, so for a brief moment, the NSK State existed in the physical world. During this time, they issued 350 NSK diplomatic passports. What’s remarkable is this: some people were actually able to use these passports to escape occupied Sarajevo. Bosnian passports were not recognized at the borders, but a French soldier who saw the NSK ones let those people through. With their art and performance, Laibach was able to potentially save lives. Compelling – even more so when you consider that their work centers around a deadpan sense of humor.

The music is great too, of course! This entire website was designed while listening to Kapital, and partially inspired by the album’s aesthetic. So, Mildred and I will see you at the LA gig if you’re there. In the meantime, a random assortment of odd Laibach-related links:

10 Responses to “Art is a Fanaticism that Demands Diplomacy”

  1. Shay Says:

    Ah, I always laugh when I see those Laibach kittens. Laibach are definitely one of the most-interesting art/music groups out there. I loved your piece in COILHOUSE #1 with them..!

  2. Tequila Says:

    Thanks for this…makes me look forward to the gig even more now. That high school vid is stellar, only thing decent to come out of my high school was a hilariously bad cover of Anarchy in the UK during a talent show.

    That passport story is still a kick…I can’t think of any other band who could pull off that idea.

  3. apokalypi Says:

    l’homme arme is my favorite song of theirs, it makes me wish i had a giant robot army i could lay waste to the countryside with …but then so do a lot of things. that’d be the music playing though.

  4. Jon Munger Says:

    Damn damn blast it, my roommates won free tickets and I sat at home, broke. But I heard their Portland show was excellent.

    Secondhand. Damn it.

  5. creativename Says:

    The show in SF was amazing! I think I got some great pictures that I will be posting on flickr soon.

  6. Tequila Says:

    The LA gig in a nutshell: Fan or not this was the gig to see this year. Flat out perfect on a visual, aural, and physical level. I’m officially spoiled by Mina Špiler’s voice. Her vocals on the Volk tracks during the first half of the show swim inside your head till you’re enthralled and just plain in love with her. The second half kicked off with Tanz Mit Laibach and continued with such high energy that it really does put a lot of bands to shame. This is how a live gig should be.

    Mix in getting to see this with fans like Nadya and Mildred and it couldn’t have been better. It adds way more to the experience than just seeing it with strangers or people who only “kinda like” them.

    On a personal note I’ll be eternally grateful to both. It was through them I got to meet the band and share the wonderfully surreal moment of talking about HBO shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Extras. The fan in me was on cloud 9 and I smiled like an idiot down sunset for quite a bit afterwards.

    Needless to say this took this sting out of missing the 2004 tour. If you’re anywhere near NYC…GO TO THIS GIG!

  7. Astra Goblin Says:

    Thanks so much for posting those video links! I really enjoyed the slow, beautiful, eerie Putokazi song (which seems, comared to the rest of the videos I can find, to be their standout track) and a bunch of what I’ve been finding of Melodrom (including “September” and “Marching on a Globe”). NEW MUSIC: I HAS IT. Thanks!

  8. Nadya Says:

    Shay, thank you!

    apokalypi: Wow, that is one of their more obscure songs. Most people love Opus Dei or Final Countdown or Tanz Mit Laibach, but that song is really digging deep into the band’s history, before they even started performing in English or German. Love their stuff from that era… Sila is one of my favorites.

    Tequila: Witnessing you bond with Ivan over Curb Your Enthusiasm/Extras was definitely the highlight of my night. And yeah, a midget-punching good time was had by all. God, there are so many fun memories. Looking back, the performances for Y’israel and Italia were the most memorable. It’s weird how just showing the opening credits to La Dolce Vita made the song somehow more poignant. And those kids with NSK book, aww! And shit, Mina’s voice, you’re right. She just looked so fragile and ethereal and austere up there. I have never seen an “industrial” crowd go so silent, still and reverent as when she performed Nippon solo. Loved her super-modest costume, too.

    Astra: Glad you like! I love Melodrom. True, there have been many bands with this kind of style, but Mina’s a completely singular performer. She mentioned after the show last night that they have some new stuff coming out soon. I might do a blog post just about Melodrom someday. I really love the way she sings here:

    creativename: Glad you had fun and took pictures! They said good things about SF. I took one blurry picture on my iphone. Should’ve taken more blurry pictures. Hope I get to see them again soon.

  9. Tequila Says:


    “…Witnessing you bond with Ivan over Curb Your Enthusiasm/Extras was definitely the highlight of my night…”

    Haha, of all the things to bond over it was TV. Just too perfect. My highlight though, I’ll have to tell you that one. I think it would sound a bit corny if I wrote it here.

    “…Looking back, the performances for Y’israel and Italia were the most memorable. It’s weird how just showing the opening credits to La Dolce Vita made the song somehow more poignant…”

    Very memorable. I’m STILL hearing them in my head…Espana too. So many little details re-enforced the whole during that part of the performance. You’re right that the credits for La Dolce Vita
    added so much, loved how even that little part was contrasted with the credits to Pasolini’s “SALO”.

    “She just looked so fragile and ethereal and austere up there.”

    Her eyes backed up a lot of that mood. Yet they were still so expressive and confident. It was hard not to be drawn into them even while so much was going around behind her. Yes I’m officially crushing on her :P Even dug the way she said “Nikola Tesla” when The Prestige came up after the show. Haha

  10. Jessica Says:

    A belated thank you for this wonderful post Nadya!! The Entartete Welt video is so amazing *swoon*! Whatta growl. Honestly, I hadn’t listened to them in ages, but I just HAD to download the Kapital album…now I’ve been listening to them ALL the time! Much obliged!