[artinfo] Croatian Pavilion at the Eastern Neighbours exhibition

Darko Fritz fritz.d at chello.nl
Sun Aug 27 19:58:00 CEST 2006

Variable Amnesia . Contemporary art from Croatia

Croatian Pavilion at the Eastern Neighbours exhibition
Cultural center Babel, Utrecht, Netherlands, 8th September - 29th October 2006

opening Thursday 7th September 20 h

Variable Amnesia . Contemporary art from Croatia

Artists: Darko Fritz, Andreja Kuluncic, Dalibor 
Martinis, Ivan Marusic Klif, Magdalena Pederin, 
Slaven Tolj, Goran Trbuljak

Curator: Darko Fritz

In 'Western civilisation' (North America and 
Europe) there is a tendency of rapidly forgetting 
both social and cultural values. Such a process 
is omnipresent in so-called East / Central Europe 
probably because of often changes of political 
systems and power-construct that are constantly 
re-writing the history / histories. That 
phenomena extends to field of contemporary art as 
well. Around the world as well as in Croatia the 
art education system has just started to shape in 
contemporary way over last decade or so. It is 
little written and published on truly 
international histories of contemporary art as 
for example histories of both conceptual and 
media art. The academic establishment seems to 
ignore unstable media of an oral tradition that 
is dominant in many places where some forms of 
contemporary art were not institutionaly 
recognized or there were just other reasons not 
to publish. The new generations of artists both 
consciously and unconsciously tend to repeat over 
and over same or very similar works and processes 
and as well mistakes that are done by other 
artists long ago. In the same way it seems that 
respective institutions do not recognize 
achievements from the past what makes any new 
initiative to start form the scretch. In other 
hand, 'western' art history seems to refuse 
taking into account any histories and canons 
except the 'western' ones, and are ignoring with 
consistency achievements made in Other places. 
Usually a well intendend presenting of the art of 
the Other ends, in repeating the process of 
'discovery', clearly states the power-position 
who 'discovers' whom. For example, over the last 
six years there were three big / high-budget 
exhibitions organized and exhibited in 'Western 
Europe' that 'discovered' the art of the Balkans 
to their next-doors neighbour. Worldwide, there 
is a same phenomena of forgetting histories of 
digital media art which is often percieved it 
began in late1980's in the 'west', but not early 
1960's internationally. I dare to call all those 
processes Amnesia International.

In the term of institutional critique the 
artworks of Goran Trbuljak (1948) are done in 
continuum of four decades expressing both the 
geo-political and individual stages of the 
artist's position in society and cultural 
industry. He made series of exhibitions with 
posters and text only as sole exhibits. In 1971 
the exhibition consisted of the poster that 
read:'I don't want to show anything new or 
original'and in 1973: 'The fact that somebody is 
given the opportunity to stage an exhibition is 
more important than what is shown at that 
exhibition'. In 'transition times' in Croatia of 
the 1990's, he made another one: 'Old and bald I 
search for the gallery'. For this exhibition a 
new poster was produced that reads: 'Old & 
depressive anonymous is looking for a permanent 
display place in some nice new art museum space'.

Dalibor Martinis (1947) was developing a project 
'Variable Risk Landscape'during a whole year of 
2004. Heput 37. 310 euros into the ZB Trend 
Investment Fund with an investment term of one 
year. While the project was in progress, the 
artist / climber / investor went once a month up 
into the hills to hike the amplitudes that were 
shown by the value of the ZB Trend share for the 
current month. The appropriate altitudes were 
measured with an altimeter. A Web site at 
www.variablerisklandscape.com has been opened up 
to follow the course of the project in the hybrid 
landscape with constantly updated information 
about the current value of the investment and 
other financial indicators, exchange rates etc. 
In Dec. 31, 2004 the difference in the value of 
the investment after 365 days was determined and 
the whole annual dividend of the project was paid 
to all the spectators present at the closing 
event. VRL 2004 Annual Report was published in 
2005.The selling price of the work 'Variable Risk 
Landscape'corresponds to the value in euros of 
365 shares in the ZB Trend investment fund on the 
day of the sale.

Project 'Austrians Only'by Andreja Kulunãiç 
(1968) consists of advertisements, posters and 
direct-mail items. In the focus of the project 
there are latent prejudices and the creeping 
discrimination against foreign workers in 
Austria. With top-quality, well-designed job 
advertisements, the 'inferior' jobs for Austrians 
are extolled, including all the restrictions and 
disadvantages with which otherwise mostly 
migrants see themselves confronted. In the words 
by artist: 'The idea of the project is to make 
job advertisement for only Austrian citizens, 
with jobs and labour conditions they would never 
accept for themselves but see as perfect for the 
"others" (non Austrian).'In the work 
'SIGHT.SEEING'shedelegates the photo recordings 
of city sights to asylum-seekers in Graz, 
Austria. At the chosen sights they wish to do 
something, but the social situation doesn't allow 
them, for instance the sight of the University 
that one could not apply for.

Project 'Migrant Navigator'by Darko Fritz (1966) 
develops to question notions of home and 
displacement as well as issues of migration, 
identity and nostalgia. The 'Home' button of the 
Internet browser is re-designed as 9 x 9 meters 
flower bad in the city park in the work 'The 
Future of Nostalgia'. In the work 
'Home'redesigned silver-black Home icon is 
displayed at the commercial billboards placed 
close to the national borders. The poster does 
not contain any further information except the 
pictorial one, inducing the series of 
associations in those ones crossing the border 
and at very best it could inspire them on 
rethinking the identity -a national one (as a 
socio-cultural construct) and a personal one.

In artworks by Magdalena Pederin (1968) 16 
characters from author's name are displayed in 
thousands of anagrams making the new (often 
absurd) meanings. Those words are shown in video 
medium as animated written ASCII texts in the 
work 'Name is an anagram'and presented as 
machine-spoken text from multiplied robotic-alike 
video self-portraits in work 'Logorea'.

Another artist who uses the (new) media and 
expressespersonal matters is Ivan Maru”iç 
Klif(1969). Interactive DVD 'Synchronicity'shows 
a registration of the sound performance performed 
by author in form of several simultaneous video 
screens which user can manipulate alongside 
several layers of subtitles. In performance he 
uses low-tech sound equipment producing 
semi-improvised flux of noise, feedback and 
various sound sensations.

Slaven Tolj (1964) explores an extreme of 
juxtaposition of private and social issues. The 
performance 'Food for survival'that he performed 
with his (of that time) wife Marija took place in 
war time of 1993. From each others naked bodies 
they were eating a food supplied to war zones by 
the international humanitarian aid. The original 
food-can ('ready-made'),as the 'logo'reads in 
three languages 'Food for survival', consists of 
a shapeless and colourless protein-rich gel. In 
'Nature and Society'performance from 2002 Slaven 
crashes the horns against the wall which he holds 
on his head. In the words by artist: 'These horns 
are the only thing that I have inherited from my 
grandfather - The horns are 58 years old and were 
intended to be a present from the Italian 
governor of Dalmatia to the Fascist Italian 
leader Benito Mussolini. My grandfather, who was 
working in 1944 at the railway post office 
decided to exchange the gift; he sent a smaller 
pair of horns to Mussolini and kept these to 
himself. By crashing the horns I deliberate 
myself from all these connotations - to crash 
them, to destroy them is an attempt to fight or 
to come up against all the correlations of nature 
and society, desire and rules, implicit in the 
symbolism of the horns within society, within 
family, within expectations of one's own, within 
projections of one's own. To crash them against 
the wall is an attempt, a need, a wish, a plea to 
leave behind male ideology of the society and 
family - to leave behind, to stop, to finish, 
defining one male history (misfortune) that 
transfers from one generation to another.'

Darko Fritz

Exhibition is supported by: Ministry of Culture 
of the Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, Embassy of 
the Republic of Croatia in the Netherlands



Darko Fritz . http://darkofritz.net . darko at darkofritz.net

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