Zagreb Blog

Random Passersby on Zagreb Facades: Braco Dimitrijević in the MSU

Imagine seeing unknown faces on billboards that are not trying to sell you anything.

If you're standing at any point of your choice in the city, there's a good chance you have at least one ad within your field of vision, whether it's a free-standing billboard, plastered onto a side of a building, or embellishing a tram station. It's hard to imagine a time when people weren't constantly violated by marketing campaigns and there was less visual information to process.

In such a context, seeing an unknown face enlarged to the size of a billboard must have been both confusing and intriguing at the same time. Speculating? No, this was an actual project carried out on many occasion by Braco Dimitrijević, a Croatian artist who's been active from the late 60s. Called 'Random Passerby', the project featured anonymous citizens whose photos were taken by Dimitrijević and then put up high above the ground in the centre of Zagreb, later also in various cities in Europe and the US. The artist was somewhat obsessed with random people in passing, so he went on to build monuments and put up memorial plaques honouring the anonymous, going so far to erect a 10-metre high obelisk in a park in Berlin to mark the birthday of a randomly selected person.



He once said: "The random passerby is my alter ego, he compensates for my lack of knowledge. Every time I stop a person in the street I'm hoping to meet Leonardo. If it turns out to actually be Leonardo, I don't lose hope the next one will be both Leonardo and Einstein in the same person."

One of the pioneers of conceptual art in Croatia, Dimitrijević is mostly known for his urban interventions and installations. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb is currently housing a retrospective exhibition of his work, spanning almost 50 years of his career and including some of his latest pieces. The exhibition is open until June 21st.