Obituary - Miomir Grujic- Library of Mu
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Obituary - Miomir Grujic
By Matthew Collin (25 August, 2003, Guardian)
The Serbian radio disc jockey Miomir Grujic, better known as Fleka, who has died aged 49, was one of the pivotal figures in Belgrade's avant-garde art scene and counterculture.
In western Europe, he was best known for his vocal performance on a recording by the electronic rock band The KLF - The Magnificent, which appeared on the War Child charity album, Help (1995). But in Serbia, Grujic was renowned for his involvement in a huge variety of art, music and media projects dating back to 1980 and the communist regime of Tito.
His late-night radio broadcasts on the independent station Radio B92, which was shut down four times in the 1990s by Slobodan Milosevic's government, were both radical and bizarre. Radio Bat, as his show was called, began in 1989 and mixed Grujic's surreal monologues with garage-punk, electronic music and psychedelic rock.
Keen to awaken his listeners' unconscious and to hold a mirror up to what he called the "ugly face" of Belgrade in the Milosevic era, Grujic invited heroin addicts, criminals and people with Aids to phone in and participate in long philosophical discussions. His aim was to discover truth and a sense of freedom amid the repression, militarism and isolation his country was enduring. "I want to be some kind of transformer, some kind of idiot, some kind of madman," he said. "I want to provoke people and make them react." His final broadcast, in 1999, came one day before the Nato bombing of the city began.
Grujic was the central character in Marc J Hawker's 1995 documentary for Channel 4, Zombie Town. He resembled a veteran rock 'n' roll star as he growled his satirical pieces to camera, gold teeth flashing, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses.
Although blind as the result of a long-term debilitating illness, Grujic was a charismatic presence. Bill Drummond of The KLF describes him in his book, 45, as having a captivating, guttural tone "like a Slavic Howlin' Wolf", adding, "Some voices, whatever words they are saying, have that instant sound of authority, of being the real thing. Fleka had it."
Grujic was asked to contribute a voiceover to The Magnificent, The KLF's drum-and-bass cover version of the theme from the film The Magnificent Seven as a replacement for Robbie Williams, who had turned down the offer to participate. The song later became a protest anthem during the mass demonstrations against the Milosevic government in 1996.
Before Radio Bat started, Grujic had already established himself on the art and music scene in Belgrade. From 1983 until 1990, he worked as the programming director of the student nightclub Akademija.
Like his radio show, Akademija was chaotic, innovative and unique in Belgrade. The music was inspired by the clubs Grujic had visited during a year spent in London in 1979 and the decor took its influence from American graffiti artists such as Keith Haring and Futura 2000.
Born in Sabac, west of Belgrade, Grujic studied law and painting, and graduated from the Belgrade Fine Arts Academy in 1985. He approached all his enterprises as art projects, particularly Urbazona, a series of literary and artistic events that ran from 1993 until his death. He also edited an art magazine, 4F; founded a not-for-profit record label, Trotorock; exhibited his own artworks in Belgrade galleries; wrote for the theatre and television; and produced illustrations for the Serbian daily newspaper Danas.
He is survived by his ex-wife, Jovana, and his son.
· Miomir Grujic, broadcaster and artist, born June 1 1954; died July 11 2003
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