Instruction for Rapprochement vol.1

Text: Barbara Vujanović

“Instruction for Rapprochement”, the title six authors from Projekt6 have chosen for this exhibition falls into a cold bureaucratic language of political organizations, for example the ones that should bring Croatia closer to the EU. In spite of its positive connotations, the word rapprochement somehow creates a feeling of uneasiness. Because, if we need to come closer to someone or something, that a priori means that we are far away from it – in a spatial, emotional, intellectual, financial or some other way, and now we have to figure out how to come at least a step closer. A step closer is often uncertain, it is therefore easier to keep at distance, in deviation, in alienation. We easily accept the fact that we live in an alienated society, as if alienation is something that we drink wit our mother’s milk. The moment of getting our first cell phone and computer is just further initiation into communication in which the highest emotional peaks are expressed with smileys.

Paradoxically, a spatial distance can seemingly be erased by a click of a mouse, but people have never been more distant from each other. While we frantically type messages on the cell phone, we completely shut our minds off the present moment and disable communication with the ones physically close to us. External discordance is just a reflection of the internal one. Igor Juran quite properly raises the following question: “Aren’t people aware of each other the same way they are aware of themselves?”. By equating reality with the virtual, we reduce the life itself to simulation. By reducing the universe to the inside of the computer box we agree to the narrowing of our consciousness. Observing of the sketches of movement of two protagonists from Igor’s video work Jutarnji program, an excerpt from a city map taken from the Internet, made me think about how our everyday route from point A to point B much resembles to digital representation – it is as linear as possible, with no interest in anything other that the (current) goal. “Who is that? I have no idea. I am not programmed to know, to care”.

Such sort of a programmed trip negates the truth that more important than reaching the goal is the travel that takes us there. Even in travel by train one can detect the difference between the programmed and the conscious. Taking over the context of the train, in which she has, on her frequent travels between Zagreb and Križevci, noticed how people rather communicate virtually than with their fellow-travellers, Tea Hatadi deals with the fear or uneasiness due to “close encounters”. Spatial installation Polazak is a clip from a train in which we are forced to visually communicate with the traveller sitting on the opposite seat. Right before I started to write this text I saw a report in the news about 3D capsules in which patients in Germany are put in various stressful situations, so in that way they can get rid of their fears. This example makes me more aware of the therapeutic possibilities of Polazak. Each participant of this interaction decides whether this capsule will be the space of game, joke, will he/she give in to the moment and coincidence, will he/she return the stare to the gaze coming from the monitor.

Let us go back to the individual and one’s attempt to approach a fellow man, we will remind ourselves of the fact that the instructions of religious teachings say that the best way to approach someone is to “nullify oneself”. That implies the lowering of the ego. A performative act by Zdravko Horvat in which he erases his own character from the drawing, in 1:1 composition representing his room on the gallery wall, directs me to the nullification of a double ego – a personal and artistic one. In the work (Auto)portret umjetnika dok sanja, which refers to some postulates from James Joyce’s novel A portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the author examines how to achieve the distance from which he can create «the image of his current existential situation». He finds the distance in a dream, which is for the dreamer «often unimagined image of himself/herself; it is the discoverer of the ego and self» Horvat deals with the image, more precisely with the drawing of his own history, i.e. subconsciousness. The simultaneousness of space-time continuum of artist’s room and dream (which is not being interrupted, not even after erasing the dreamer) and the drawing that has its beginning and the end (from the first to the last dot on the drawing) points to the paradox of man’s hunt for a glimpse of “the current existence”. In the end we put the largest effort into approaching ourselves.

Karla Šuler, the member of Projekt6 in exile, examines this same effort, however in a completely different way. Detachment from home, her usual context, detachment from friends, colleagues, (un)like minded people with whom ideas can be exchanged or disputed at the same time give a feeling of freedom and a feeling of anxiety. In fragmented thoughts sent by e-mail, through which Karla joins the typical group brainstorming sessions before a joint project, she expresses very lucid thoughts about life, the author’s current position, art and the point of dealing with the same. Indeed, it is good to listen to the twin within ourselves, the one we usually talk to, that freaky revenging motherfucking little monster that whispers to us: “art is as it says artificial…very irrelevant for life. In the end an intellectual and a junkie at the end of the day and the shift of Polish cashiers…end up standing next to each other in Lidl”. Oh how true!

Following the similar logic, on the same page in newspapers you can find a statement from a starlet hungry for fame as well as an attempt by a contemporary artist to provoke a public interest with his/her act. Due to supersaturation with vulgar nudity the public becomes completely immune to the abuse of the body, and on the other hand the use of a naked body in artistic practice is regarded as an excess. And while the attention in both cases is given to the protagonist, the one who is exposed, all the ones who are indirectly, but in no less painful way concerned, are forgotten: parents, boyfriend, girlfriend, friends, family. Within this project Maja Rožman truly exposes herself in a performance that takes place at the opening of the exhibition, but it is only a trigger for deeper and more complex exposing of herself and persons close to her who, in a conversation recorded in a video, are faced with the consequences and connotations of exposing the artist’s naked body.

While writing about the previous project of Projekt6 Ivana Meštrov noticed how Martina Miholić, often present in her own work, frequently subjects to tactics of exposure. After she exposed her character to reactions (Dogma Project) as well as her personality (work Tagbax/Ponos within the project Stereotipi i predrasude), Martina exposes her sketches to public reactions. Nothing new, artists do that, don’t they? Yes they do, but the established logic and exhibition-making practice mainly emphasize the interpretations of the work in prefaces and critical reviews. In the work Katalog Martina makes an inversion by exposing the book in which she collected reactions and interpretations from art historians, fellow colleagues, her students, friends and acquaintances who do not necessarily understand art (art is artificial anyway!). Encounter with the works themselves is postponed until the visit to her website or Martina’s upcoming exhibition. With the inversion of the expected sequence of communication “artist – work – interpreter”, Marta examines its complexity and ambiguity. Actually, I still have not seen Marta’s sketches. But I find the pleasure in the fact that I experience them for the first time through other people’s views – they increase my curiosity, expand the experience that is yet to come. A curator who has not seen the works – well, that’s something new, some might say. I reply: “Blessed are hose who believe without seeing.”

I do not intend to ironize or be blasphemous. I just want to say how Maja, Tea, Martina, Karla, Zdravko and Igor demonstrated in their deliberations how “a step closer” is really uncertain, unpredictable, at the same time hard and easy. Good thing it lasts a lifetime so we have time to learn something.