Urška Aplinc, Maks Bricelj, Maja Burja, Gašper Capuder, Janja Kosi, Blaž Miklavčič, Danilo Milovanović •
Every art scene, the specific space and time-bound environment of art production, is dominated by discourses that offer local art production a conceptual framework and a theoretical context, its points and field of reference, while at the same time they also, to a large extent, determine art production both in terms of the coordinates of its reflexivity and in terms of the ways its ideas materialise.
To put it simply, the creation of artworks. Regardless of whether this is about limiting oneself by the strict formal rules of classic media or about the processual openness and ‘immateriality’ of presentation, work of art is always subject to negotiation, consideration and contemplation. Irrespective of whether this is about artefact, process or situation, this is always about a certain fixing of an idea, its capture and confinement to specific parameters, which enable its transmission and/or presentation. The circumstances of this fixing are far from insignificant; on the contrary, they are the decisive factor. The production conditions and the discourse of a milieu are formed by the two axes of a coordinate plane, in which decisions (or is this too strong a word in the context of art?) are being made about finalisation, articulation or possible formalisation called work of art. Certainly it is hardly a novelty that works of art are shaped by various forces determining their production and reception; it is the specificity of this exhibition that it presents works that take these always uncertain relations as their subject. What is under scrutiny here are the decisions that determine the mode of presenting the work (and the artist) to the art system and its trajectory; the fact that things are as they are, but they could be different with very different implications. And last but not least, the responsibility they entail.
Seven artists participating in the exhibition Open Call dissect the implications of the decision called work of art. They are traced most schematically by the peculiar combinatorics of the creation of work (of art) presented in the project by Blaž Miklavčič titled An Attempt of a System. The work takes advantage of the auto-complete function of smart keyboards, which for each selected word offers a choice of three possible words to complete the sentence; what emerges is a diagram of selected and rejected paths, which makes an uncertain viewer wander about the criteria guiding the author’s decisions and invest curiously in the interrupted lines. The author’s decisions and motivations are recognised as the result of the author’s style, already understood by the computer monitoring the user’s writing and online interactions. The self-ironic reading of artistic creation through the contextual and consensual dynamics of the art system transpires in Maks Bricelj’s video Racket Racket through a play with three shabby everyday objects. The fact that an ‘artefact’ could emerge, an object that is legible within the grammar of contemporary art despite triviality, not only indicates the limits of any materialisation of idea in a work of art, but also highlights an inner contradiction in the notion of work of art as such, which is expected to confront us with something unknown and, at the same time, to be intelligible. However, the boundaries of work of art are sometimes identifiable more directly, that is, as their context is determined by the position of power. Despite maintaining continuity with previous interventions carried out under the auspices of institutions, the modest gardening intervention by Danilo Milovanović on the lawn in front of MSUM, the privileged playground for engaged statements by the local incarnations of relational art and urban gardening, was subjected to surprisingly rapid erasure – which, perhaps, resulted from the lack of artistic pretension? Gašper Capuder’s work White Square confronts us with the dictate of not only art institutions but also art as institution, which is often constraining, but also often internalised. Rather than the white square on the black background, which the visitor is forbidden from treading on, the space is occupied and the visitor’s movement is organised by the rule as such. The experience of art is here conveyed through prohibition, albeit not a very innovative one, but rather one appropriated from the urban or transport vocabulary, which here coincides with the lexis of galleries. It feels as if the white square on the black background does not let us breathe, that is, neither the artists nor the visitors; the symbolic world of (contemporary) art has pushed us all against the wall. The anxious experience of drawing from a permanently limited range of the already seen and the devaluation of the meaning of artistic gesture within the paradigm of art, in which all forms of resistance are anticipated and received frivolously, is expressed in Janja Kosi’s gesture, in which paintings are only intimated behind the luxurious and photogenic room vegetation. Here, painting, known as a conservative medium, as well as intervention in the critical non-conceptual manner, preferred by the current zeitgeist, fall within the same banal register of a backdrop to cultural consumption. Self-reflexivity is the central drive of Maja Burja and Urška Aplinc’s work Variable. With each new repetition, the performative work is extended in accordance with the scope of the audience’s responses, which are the main material of the work’s content. The work is completely fragile in its dependence on the art audience’s interest, for which and through which it is performed; at the same time, it is also a ruthless machine for the neutralisation of its interpretive power and freedom. Although in constant risk of reproducing the system, it must not remain silent…
Tjaša Pogačar & Vladimir Vidmar
31st May, at 7 pm: Performance “Variable” by Maja Burja and Urša Aplinc
6th June, at 5 pm: Guided tour of the show
Acknowledgments: prof. mag. Jože Barši, prof. Alen Ožbolt, izr. prof. mag. Žiga Kariž
The exhibition is a collaboration project of Škuc Gallery and The Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana.
The programme of Škuc Gallery is supported by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and Cultural Department of the City of Ljubljana.
photo © Dejan Habicht