Tomaž Hostnik, who was one of Laibach’s first lead singers, gave his final performance with them on December 11, 1982 in Zagreb. Ten days later, he committed what Laibach describes as a “ritual suicide,” hanging himself from a kozolec—an ancient iconic Slovene hayrack, as was depicted on the cover of Laibach’s Rekapitulacija 1980-1984 box set, the group’s first album to obtain release worldwide.
Though laibach.org tells us that “Laibach disapproved of his act of suicide and posthumously expelled Hostnik from the group, returning him to his private identity,” the bloody-but-unbowed image above and Hostnik’s theoretical contributions remain of foundational importance to Laibach and the NSK State, Laibach’s country without territory.
Amok Books’ beautiful, long out-of-print catalog, Neue Slowenische Kunst, reprints several of Hostnik’s writings. In “The Origin of the Source of the New People’s Creativity,” he diagnoses the terminal illness of “so-called contemporary popular production” in a few oracular, Laibachian paragraphs: “the ceremonial and ritual elements are eliminated and automatically transformed into an affiliation to industrial and political life, which is again merely a state of continuous dependence.” Asked by a Slovenian organization called the Music Lovers Club to comment on the New Romantic fad, Hostnik penned “On the Delicateness of New-Romanticism (An instigation to reflection),” which, as promised, offers old answers to old questions. His 1982 poem, “Apologia Laibach,” is counted among the group’s manifestos:
Since when, sons of truth, are you the brothers of night?
What colors your hands with the redness of blood?
The explosion in the night is the flower of woe,
nothing can be justified by it.
The altar cannot be destroyed,
the altar of lies, that multiplies shapes.
The spotless picture, the painless lights,
the only harbors of the terrible night.
We are the children of the spirit and the brothers of strength,
whose promises are not fulfilled.
We are the black ghosts of this world,
we sing the mad image of woe.
The explanation is the whip and you bleed:
Break the mirror of the world for the hundredth time, —
all your efforts are in vain. We have overcome the night:
our debt has been paid
and the light is ours.
This footage of Hostnik’s last performance, first released on Vinyl-on-Demand’s Gesamtkunstwerk box set in 2011, is now available for all the world to see on Laibach’s YouTube. Has an unmanned drum set ever looked so sinister?