The Storm in The Still Life
Letterplying a Sea of Red

Translated by Will Firth

Zagreb, 2013., Croatia
Format: 21×13 cm, 122 pg.
Cover: paperbook
Price: 9,90 € / 90,00 kn
ISBN 978-953-284-080-3


Ivan Berislav Vodopija (born in Veliki Grđevac, 1942) earned a degree in Slavic Studies and Comparative Literature at Zagreb University. He devoted his entire working life to publishing and bookselling and today is considered one of the greatest connoisseurs of literature and art books from the whole of former Yugoslavia. His numerous projects are well-known, among them his work in bookshops which one after another are losing out against commercialisation, e.g. Mladost in Ilica no. 7 – the first to introduce book launches with autographing sessions – or the former Znanstvena bookshop on Preradović Square (today T-com), which sold hard-to-get magazines, stocked rare editions by the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and also exhibited works of art.

He also worked at August Šenoa bookshop in Zvonimirova Street (owned by Znanje publishers), whose selection of new arrivals was almost on par with its wealth of rare, second-hand editions. The bookshop’s display provided a space for individual exhibitions of works by notable, avant-garde and also alternative writers and artists, including Vesna Parun, Željka Čorak, Ivan Kušan, Pavao Pavličić, Arsen Dedić, Josip Vaništa, Marija Ujević, Dubravka Babić, Željko Kipke, Mangelos, Željko Jerman, Vlasta Delimar, Boris Demur, Vlado Martek, Ante Rašić, Žarko Vijatović, Boris Bakal, Zdenko Gašparović, Rada Iveković, Vesna Grubić, Vladimir Dodig-Trokut (Red Peristyle), the Studio of Imitations of Life and others. On the pavement by the shop window you could sometimes also find benches colourfully painted by the artists Breda Beban and Danka Šošić.

Just how significant those events were was borne out by the frequent police ‘visits’, especially to alternative art exhibitions and happenings. Much of this work is today considered historically meaningful and part the Croatian artistic avant-garde.

In the late eighties, on the eve of the democratic changes, Vodopija opened Croatia’s first, private second-hand bookshop in Tkalčićeva Street. Although it has since moved to Šenoina Street, it remains today a unique trove of internationally relevant Croatian material. It should also be mentioned that he, together with the architecture critic Antoaneta Pasinović, was the initiator of the project to renovate and revitalise now hip Tkalčićeva Street.

Vodopija has written poetry and prose since his student days but to date has only published 2010 one book of poems, Svaka boja je krvava ("Every colour is bloody") and a book of prose pieces Mrtva priroda i živo srce: pismima kroz crveno, 2011 / The Storm in the Still Life: Letterplying a Sea of Red, 2013, translated by Will Firth.

In addition to this book of prose, a book of reviews and critiques published in magazines and literary journals is also in preparation (Booker: slastice s prstohvatom soli / Booker: Sweets with a Pinch of Salt).


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