Need Your Love So Bad is a famous blues ballad composed way back in 1955. Multiple covers of the tune exist, but the most famous one is by Fleetwood Mac from 1968, which Niko Mihaljević uses as a basis for his performance. Despite its name and context, this piece does not rely on anything melancholic, romantic or particularly autobiographical. As the author explains, it is a calculated creation of artificial melancholy which was originally a product of leisure and some abstract sentimentality. Niko Mihaljević spent part of 2017 in New York as a winner of the Radoslav Putar Art Award, the most prestigious award for young Croatian artists. In this period he began working on the concept and “practicing” for this performance. He has always been fascinated with the ready-made aesthetics of the cheap MIDI background he accidentally found on YouTube, which he used as a basis for the whistling exercises.
Besides all this, through his work Mihaljević often questions the seriality of artistic avant-gardes and early conceptual works, with the ever-present humor and a certain trying-out of concept, just as the first conceptual artists, especially performing artists, had done. Niko whistles the three-minute song not once, not twice, but 10 times in a row, completing his performance piece, questioning the audience’s attention and focus, while playing with the atmosphere he created, evidently enjoying himself. As far as setting up the scenery, the allusion to the minimalist “karaoke aesthetics” is clear – taking into account the lack of a proper backing track and the person separated from the crowd, vocalizing – in which a form of benign popular entertainment is deliberately put into the context of contemporary art, and now the audience needs to withstand the constant repetition of the same vocal pattern.
Although this piece of music is formally completely benign – it is neither loud, dissonant, abstract, complex, nor pretentious, it does not annoy us in any way – except by repetition.
Niko Mihaljević was born in Split, and although spending his entire career outside of his hometown, he now returns to whistle his repetitive melody in hopes of prompting a reaction from the famously tough Split audience. Will they boo him, join him or simply leave the space of the Amphitheater before the end of the piece – remains to be seen.
Niko Mihaljević (Split, 1985) is a conceptual artist and graphic designer. He graduated from the Werkplaats Typografie (ArtEZ Institute of the Arts) in Arhhem, Holland. He is the winner of the 2016 Radoslav Putar Young Visual Artists Award. His recent projects include the avant-garde karaoke performance “Need Your Love So Bad” (2017) and “Circumnavigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse” (2016), a philosophical dialogue which proves the island of Prvić is indeed a land mass surrounded by the sea from all ends. He also studies and documents vernacular amateur graphic design and typography (“A wide variety of Italian pants: Zagreb’s A4 street design”, 2016). He is the founder of the Crystal Skull Museum. He composes esoteric synthesizer recitals as Soft Temple II. He works as a freelance graphic designer and an associate professor at the Media Design Department at University North.