Lenka Đorojević, Zora Stančič, Mladen Stropnik, Roman Uranjek
Collecting has a long history, which has followed various rationales, motivations and policies, while as wholes collections have formed and represented corpora of knowledge and/or forms with different claims of legitimacy. While by definition (at least, in principle) public collections should strive to be based on certain objective criteria and be legitimised by underlying expertise, private ones are shaped mostly by personal interests. The subject of the exhibition The Collection as Will and Presentation sharpens the focus on a specific type, an artist’s collection.
Although such collections have diverse histories of their own, the question posed here is what the phenomenon of the contemporary artist collecting works by other contemporary artists means. From the outset, such a collection is paradoxical: how should we interpret the fact that a collection, which should be the final goal of a contemporary artist, comes to belong to an artist? Perhaps, to some extent, we can come closer to answering this question by highlighting specific features when the role of the collector is occupied by an artist. It is a specific duplication of the artist’s role in the system, and the points of intertwinement and mutual reinforcement of these two roles provide the most interesting way to read such collections. The artist does not cease to be an artist when collecting. If the element of personality, a combination of intellectual, psychological, emotional and other interests is the crucial differentia specifica of a private collection, it is legitimate to look for the motivation and criteria for their design. Therefore, this exhibition suggests ‘a reading’ of the participating artists through their collections, which are by default artistic (even doubly so).
Why does a contemporary artist collect contemporary art? Although there are as many answers as there are collections, the approaches of Lenka Đorojević, Zora Stančić, Mladen Stropnik and Roman Uranjek tell us that collecting is inscribed in the context of an artist’s credo. Collecting expands the artist’s persona and practice by embracing and mapping artworks by artist colleagues, which concurrently constitutes and strengthens one’s own world. In the collecting behaviour of an artist, we can thus recognize the positioning and legitimising of one’s own position by highlighting the significance of collected art that has received different levels of institutional recognition. On the other hand, the collection has an emphatically communicative role, and is a method of establishing and preserving living dialogue with colleagues. Therefore the practice of collecting forms a communicative network for exchanging opinions and experiences, offering thoughts and accepting responses, while the works assume different modalities. In this respect, a collection reinforces certain ties and sets up a network of relationships. Like any other exchange of messages, the circulation of ideas in the form of artworks is inscribed in a system that guarantees the intelligibility of what ‘has been said’ and also guarantees the most direct form of communication possible. A part of this is the setting up of a unique parallel economy, an uncontrolled but self-regulating system, that defines the limits and dynamics of processes materialised in artists’ collections.
Despite the fact that every artist’s first statement is that their collection developed intuitively, without clearly defined criteria, they appear surprisingly ‘curated’. They are obviously held together by the artist’s personality, and this unifying element guarantees its integrity. Therefore, the best ‘statement’ about the collection is the art practice, work and method of thinking of the collecting artist, who makes the collection recognisable and homogenous by insisting on subjectivity, making it an object of interest precisely because of this particular interest. The presented collections will therefore ‘legitimise’ themselves in relation with artistic gestures of the collector, while maintaining a tension.
Therefore, The Collection as Will and Presentation is more than just an insight into the collecting work of artists. It becomes an alternative method of discussing the overall art of the collectors, approaching their art practices from a different angle, while attempting to reflect the dynamics of the art system beyond established forms and distributed roles. It is an attempt to discuss both the phenomenon of the collection and nature of the artwork by slightly moving away from customary order. Here the collection is the realm of the person who should be its subject, while art work fluctuates between the art and collection practices of the artists, including moments of transition between the two, which are difficult to define.
Concept: Vladimir Vidmar
Acknowledgements: Yasmin Martin Vodopivec, Tevž Logar
21st April, and Wednesday, 4th May, at 6 pm: gallery talks with the artists and Škuc Gallery artistic director
The programme of Škuc Gallery is supported by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and Cultural Department of the City of Ljubljana.