Braco Dimitrijevic

The Casual Passer-By I Met at 11.28 am, London, October 1972


Not on display

Braco Dimitrijevic born 1948
3 photographs, gelatin silver prints on paper, ink on paper
Support: 409 × 1016 mm
Purchased 1983

Catalogue entry

T03684 The Casual Passer-By I met at 11.28 A.M. London, October 1972

3 black and white photographs, each 11 7/8 × 8 7/8 (303 × 226), and one text mounted on board 11 7/8 × 8 1/2 (303 × 215), overall size 16 1/8 × 40 (409 × 1016)

Part printed and part handwritten inscription ‘THE CASUAL PASSER-BY I MET AT 11.28 A.M. P.M./London, Oct. 1972/Braco D./Braco Dimitrijevic 1969’
Purchased from Waddington Galleries (Grant-in-Aid) 1983
Prov: Situation Gallery 1972; Robert Self Gallery 1976; with the artist 1976–9; Waddington Galleries ? 1980
Exh: Situation Gallery, ? October 1972 (no catalogue); Braco Dimitrijevic, Galerija Suvremene Umjetnosti, Zagreb, 8–25 February 1973 (16, room no.5 and 6, detail repr.); Braco Dimitrijevic Arbeiten/Works 1968–1978, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, March–May 1979 (not numbered, detail repr. figs. 15 and 67); Braco Dimitrijevic, Stedelijk van Abbe-museum, Eindhoven, May–June 1979 (not numbered, detail repr.); Braco Dimitrijevic, ICA, September–October 1979 (as ‘The Casual Passer-By I met at 11.28 P.M.’, detail repr.); According to Braco Dimitrijevic T 03684 is a unique work. However, in addition to the above exhibitions it also appears to have been shown in European Dialogue 3rd Biennale, Sydney, April–May 1979 (listed in catalogue)
Lit: Manfred Schmalriede, ‘Remarks on the work of Braco Dimitrijevic’, Braco Dimitrijevic Arbeiten/Works 1968–1978, exhibition catalogue, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, 1979, pp.26–8; Adrian Morris, ‘Biography’, in Braco Dimitrijevic ‘Culturescapes’ 1976–1984, Gemälde, Skulpturen, Fotografien, exhibition catalogue, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, March 1983 (p.127, detail repr.); David Brown, Braco Dimitrijevic, Triptychos Post Historicus, exhibition leaflet, Tate Gallery, September 1985, n.p. Also repr: Braco Dimitrijevic Tractatus Post Historicus, Tübingen 1976 (detail, n.p.)

Braco Dimitrijevic began working on a series, to which he gave the title ‘The Casual Passer-By’, involving passers-by-people he had met by chance in the street-in Zagreb, in his native Yugoslavia, in 1968. The first such work used the name of a pensioner, Tihomir Simcicz (b.1905, retired 1960)- ‘The Casual Passer-By I met at 11.40 a.m. Zagreb 1969’. Dimitrijevic's choice of subject depends on chance; he chooses the first person who accepts after the opportunity becomes available to make such a work. He sees the negotiations surrounding the organisation of his publicly sited works as part of the work itself (in one instance it took two years to gain a city's acceptance for a work that was to be publicly sited out-of-doors).

According to the chronology section of Braco Dimitrijevic ‘Culturescapes’, p.124 (1968–9), Dimitrijevic only arranges the initial situation:

while its development depends on chance, understanding and approval of other persons. When entering a gallery, a visitor is prepared to see a work of art. I have tried to choose people at random, without knowing whether they have any affinity for art, and make them not only the spectators but persons who co-operate with the ‘arranger’, i.e. create. They have thus been included into the act of creating, and the dividing line that formally existed between artist and non-artist has been removed.

In a note to David Brown (May 1985), Dimitrijevic gave the following brief history of ‘The Casual Passer-By’ series:

In 1968 I joined the Academy of Fine Art in Zagreb. In that year I made pieces from the series ‘Accidental Sculpture’ ‘Accidental Drawings and Paintings’ which lead up to the pieces about a casual passer-by. ‘The Casual Passer-By’ would touch or deal with [the] following problems; inner and outer perception. The context in which it was placed would lead one to think that it was [a] person from public life. Learning that it was a person selected at random one would in future reflect on the subject within a similar context. These pieces were rooted in [the] ‘Flag of the World’ piece from 1963 where [the] national flag on my boat was replaced with [a] cloth used for cleaning brushes. [See Braco Dimitrijevic ‘Culturescapes’ 1976–1984, p.123].

‘Casual Passer-By’ stands for the unrecognised creative potential or creative person whose ideas we have missed as they were too advanced. In 1969 I wrote a story, ‘About two artists’ [See Braco Dimitrijevic 'Culturescapes 1976–1984, p.125]. [‘About two artists’: Once upon a time, far from cities and towns there lived two painters. One day, the King, hunting nearby, lost his dog. He found him in the garden of one of the painters. He saw the works of that painter and took him to the castle. The name of that painter was Leonardo da Vinci. The name of the other disappeared forever from human memory.] So ‘Passer-By’ could also be an answer to that story. (For a chronology of events with ‘Casual Passer-By’ pieces see Cologne catalogue years 1968–71, pp. 125–7, op.cit.)

When I joined [the] advanced sculpture course at St Martin's [School of Art in London], the first pieces I... realised were memorial plaques to Casual Passers-By. [Dimitrijevic produced memorial plaques inscribed with the names of people living in neighbouring buildings and he also made a ‘portable monument’ - a stone plaque bearing the inscription ‘This could be a place of Historical Importance’.] London and its monuments have inspired me to add one more, ‘Monument to Casual Passer-By’ having tried to find the most appropriate contexts for my works. [This was a fibre glass bust of David Harper the ‘Casual Passer-By I met at 1.10 p.m.’ which was installed for one day in the gardens of Berkeley Square in April 1972, timed to coincide with an exhibition at Situation Gallery. Preview guests were gathered in the square before going to the gallery. Dimitrijevic made the bust at St Martin's.] Some words regarding the ‘Piece with Bus’ [t 03684]. London is a very large city and unlike some Mediterranean towns has no piazza that people would be passing every day. [The] Equivalent of a facade on [a] main piazza in a smaller town here is the poster board on the bus which crosses the town. This is how I came to use Bus No.14 so that I would have my show passing through the city via St Martin's every 20 minutes.

Dimitrijevic went to St Martin's in 1971 and it was while he was a student there that he made t 03684. In October 1972, he photographed a man, hitherto unknown to him, who happened to be passing, outside the main college building in the Charing Cross Road. He first related the story of the two artists (op.cit.) to the man who, he remembers, readily agreed to participate in the work. He had the photograph of the passer-by enlarged as a poster and through the Situation Gallery obtained permission from London Transport to have the posters displayed on certain No.14 buses for a limited period. As he has noted, the No.14 bus passes directly in front of St Martin's on its route North East towards King's Cross.

For presentation outside its original context (which had been the side of a bus in this case), Dimitrijevic always juxtaposes a photographic portrait of his passer-by subject with data about the origins of the work.

The Tate's work consists of three photographs and a certificate signed by the artist and is the second, documentary and exhibitable part of a work which existed in its original form for a limited duration. It consists of two photographs of the same bus (registration No. NML 613E). In one photograph, the bus passes St Martin's School of Art and in the other, it is shown heading south west, towards South Kensington. To the left of the photographs is a printed certificate, signed by the artist, giving the exact time of the meeting between Dimitrijevic and the ‘passer-by’. This certificate bears the month and year of the meeting (October 1972) but also the year the series was formally initiated (1969). On the extreme left is a portrait photograph of the passer-by himself.

According to Dimitrijevic, the ‘Casual Passer-By’ series is open ended - he believes that he has made at least 25 in Britain. Apart from T03684, the following have been documented in the catalogues cited in the exhibition and literature sections above:

Sarah Knipe, the casual passer-by I met at 2.52 pm, London 1971
Peter Martin, ‘Cars I see from my window’. Film shot by a casual passer-by I met at 6.40 pm, London 1971
John Foster, the casual passer-by I met at 10.05 am, London 1972
Monument to David Harper, the casual passer-by I met at 1.10 pm, London 1972
Ann Sander, the casual passer-by I met at 7.15 pm, London 1974
Michael Davies, the casual passer-by I met at 1.19 pm, Coventry 1975
The casual passer-by I met at 4.57 pm, Edinburgh 1975
The casual passer-by I met at 1.14 pm, London 1978 John Fane, the casual passer-by I met at 6.14 pm, Henley-on-Thames 1978

All the works in the ‘Casual Passer-by’ series have used forms which generally denote public acceptability and imply that the subject is well-known, eg. photoportraits, posters, placards, memorial plaques, public sculptures.

After making T03684, Dimitrijevic used the image of the 14 bus again, juxtaposing it with a photograph of a European bus, also covered with large photographic portraits - in the latter case, advertising posters. He subtitled the ‘genuine’ bus ‘This could be a work of B.D.’ (repr. in Braco Dimitrijevic Arbeiten/Works 1968–75, exhibition catalogue, op.cit., p.27). (The artist has confirmed that T 03684 is a unique work.)

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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