Marina Abramović, Stanislav Droždž, Miklos Erdely, Gorgona; Julije Knifer, Josip Vaništa, Tomislav Gotovac, Ion Grigorescu, Jiri Kovanda, Vladimir Kuprijanov, Dimitrije Bašičević Mangelos, Karel Miler, Jan Mlčoch, Andrej Monastirski, Skupina OHO; Iztok Geister, Matjaž Hanžek, David Nez, Marko Pogačnik, Tomaž Šalamun, Franci Zagoričnik, Jozef Robakowski, Klavdij Sluban, Mladen Stilinović, Ilija Šoškić, Petr Štembera, Raša Todosijević
The exhibition The Present and Presence: Repetition 4 - Micro-political Situations presents a selection of works from Moderna galerija's Arteast 2000+ collection.
While it is true that the postwar avant-garde movements presented here were opposed to the existing regimes, this opposition was not always expressed through an explicitly political content. What made them political was the fact that they employed various gestures to create certain micro-political situations. In this regard, the works in the exhibition may be divided into a number of separate groups.
Body art, performance, installation: isolation, marginalization, and vulnerability become aesthetic gestures
In this kind of creative practice, the artists intensified the experience of social isolation, marginalization, and vulnerability. In their performance work these artists consciously relived everything that characterized the grey, everyday life of socialism, thus making visible the lack of freedom in society and various forms of social pressure.
Art and totalitarianism: Sots Art, retro-avant-garde, alternative culture
In the decade before the fall of the communist regimes, art became more explicitly political; at the same time, it operated as an important lever of the civil society in its fight for democratic change. The retro-avant-garde and Sots artists especially, but also certain representatives of the alternative culture of the 1980s, combine the imaginaries of different totalitarian societies so as to draw attention to the ever stronger and ever more obvious contradictions in socialist society.
The OHO Group sought harmony both within the group and with the countryside in the "schooling" projects they conceived and carried out in the Zarica Valley, the Sorško Polje, and Čezsoča. The tendencies that became apparent in the schooling were all-encompassing in character and required a total realization in all aspects of life. This led the group to the decision to renounce the world of art and retreat into a commune in Šempas late in 1970. Artistic work resurfaced two years later in the form of concepts of art as group or communal work, involving the participation of all of the commune members, including children. The School of Drawing was established, and drawing became a daily evening practice that also random visitors were invited to join in. A specific practice of schooling relates to Klavdij Sluban?s photographs taken in juvenile prisons in France, the former Soviet Union, and Slovenia, to which the artist adds photographs taken by the inmates under his mentorship. Teaching juvenile delinquents photography in prisons all over the world brings Sluban in contact with one of the margins of society as well as the archetypal form of the highly ordered, hierarchical architecture of prisons and similar institutions, that is, the architecture of order and discipline. Thinking along these lines could lead to a more literal understanding of the notion of "disciplines" brought together, ordered, and represented by this exhibition, and linking the museum to the systems of managing and disciplining knowledge.
Art in public space: Street actions as anti-institutional, anti-ideological gestures
While under socialism the authorities might tolerate the presentation of so-called unofficial art in marginal spaces such as youth clubs, student centers, artists? studios or private apartments, a much stricter attitude was taken toward events in the public space. As a result, all the actions in the public space that are presented instantly acquired a political, anti-institutional and anti-ideological marking. Many street actions of this kind, whether representing minimal departures from everyday routine or, indeed, provocations, helped passers-by to mentally shift the boundaries of what was permissible.
Use of language and materiality as anti-predominant forms of art
In this group we find works in which the use of language and materiality present an opposing position to established modernist forms of art, and which were, in general, directed against the art establishment. By relocating the language of politics into an art context, these artists were usually trying to draw attention to the emptiness of that language. Through visual, concrete poetry and the use of the material aspect of paint, paper and film ribbon, they underscored the independence and non-ideological nature of things in themselves.