Bani Abidi, Bas Jan Ader, Esad Babačić, FORT, Hreinn Fridfinsson, Lasse Schmidt Hansen, David Horvitz, Željko Jerman, Jacek Kryszkowski, Lee Lozano, Jerzy Ludwiński, Ruth Oppenheim, Agnieszka Piksa, Camila Rocha, Julika Rudelius, Ariel Schlesinger, Ulay, Marko Tadić
The last Gallery Škuc exhibition of 2013 is also the last presentation under the current artistic programming. Incorporating the idea of the literary palimpsest, the exhibition aligns historical and contemporary artistic practices in an attempt to produce a choreography of past, present and future in which emotions and intuitions play prominent roles. The need for perspectives that are both close and distanced formed the basis for the curatorial collaboration, while the exhibition’s substantive base is grounded in the specific projects realized in Škuc Gallery over the last years. However, the institution’s history is not understood as a geology waiting to be excavated but rather as a collection of incidents interpreted through unstable and constantly shifting memories, themselves subject to the curators’ own recent experiences. The exhibition thus unfolds as a multi-referential plot stressing the incomplete recall of miscellaneous objects, stories, events and accidents as they appear in both the artistic imagination and the institution’s history. The fact that Gallery Škuc is a gallery, former cultural centre and an office allows the notion of this history to be understood more broadly than a formal history of exhibitions. The show becomes an account of a moment in time seen through the lens of the present, where history is recontextualised and put in relation to new elements seen for the first time.
In this conjuring of trustfulness through the recognition of a small gesture lies a thread that ties the exhibition’s artistic elements together and gives a clue to the approach that might be most appropriate for a viewer walking in from the street. Anna Akhmatova (from one of her Untitled poem comes the title of the show) suggests to drop one’s guard against the intrusion of the other, even into the most intimate creative moments (“Having run out of paper, / I am writing on your rough draft / And a word which is not mine / Occasionally shows through / only to melt, trustingly, without reproach / As snowflakes, once, on my hand”). For these moments might shake free a fresh insight that would be impossible to generate alone, or to stimulate the recall of a memory that had lain dormant until now. It is with the hope that combining personal reverie with the close presence of others (and the weight of the world) that the exhibition is brought together – as a chance to reflect on past and presence, old and new.
The vicissitudes of life are reflected in the artistic works themselves. Many pieces refer directly to the artists’ biographies or hint at emotional upheavals. Perhaps in this way they counter the current tendency to see contemporary art in terms of its utilitarian value rather than its ability to speak to experiences that are touch deeper levels of sensitivity than simple political or economic return. For most of the invited artists it is relevant to see the artworks as implying a state of mind with which any individual can identify – a feeling of freedom, pain, thoughtfulness, love, death or intimacy that reflects our being in the world at levels that are not so easily articulated by other means than art.
The interest of the potential of the personal gesture is the key to understanding the presence of two historical practices – Lee Lozano’s strikes and rejection pieces from late 1960’s and Art Auction by Jacek Kryszkowski from middle 1980’s. These take their place alongside works by Bas Jan Ader, Ulay and Željko Jerman, all of whom all had individual exhibitions over the last years at the Škuc Gallery and that all relate in diverse ways to the notion of departure and disappearance. In contrast to the immanent presence of a heterogeneous group of people filmed by Julika Rudelius in an anonymous room, the main protagonist of Ruth Oppenheim’s video builds up a fantasy of becoming somebody else. Yet both share a feeling of longing for being elsewhere, drifting somewhere between a bureaucratic world cathced in work by Lasse Schmidt Hansen and the world of dreams or fantasies like in Marko Tadić’s collages and film animation. Elsewhere in the exhibition a diversity of media such as drawing, text, objects, video, installation and performance all reflect on the fragile net of lived conditions. While they remain „unencoded” at some level, and thus leave the viewer with a very wide field of associations, they are intended to construct a collective atmosphere, becoming dependent on or at least complementing each other for the duration of the exhibition, just before they will be disassemble without a reproach.
Curated by Tevž Logar