Manca Bajec. GAME:MONUMENT, 2017, game mat, wooden figures, dice, cards. Courtesy of the artist.
Things Break Down
Curator: Ana Mizerit
Museum of Modern Art Metelkova
17 June 2023–20 January 2024
At +MSUM we have presented several exhibitions from Moderna galerija collections with the emphasis on Arteast 2000+ collection. Arteast 2000+ is the first museum collection conceived with a focus on Eastern European postwar avant-garde art in a broader international context. Since its inception in 2000, the collection has become well known for providing a comprehensive overview of art in the region. Similarly, it is recognized for the insight it provides into certain shared sociopolitical issues that are or were of central concern for the artists in the formerly socialist countries, outlining as it does the developments from the 1960s through the transition period in the 1990s to the present-day context of global neoliberal capitalism. In 2011, Arteast 2000+ came to form the core of the newly founded Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (+MSUM), which operates as part of Moderna galerija, Ljubljana.
The new installation of works from the Arteast 2000+ and national collections entitled Things Break Down refers to the short film Revolution (1975) directed by the pioneer of Slovenian modernist cinema Boštjan Hladnik, based on the comic strip The Light of the Darkness by the OHO group members and authors Marko Pogačnik and Iztok Geister – Plamen. The film as well as the comic strip is about a revolution of things taking control of their own actions. They do this by ceasing to serve their purpose at some point. What people, their users, see as useless, broken objects when things do not work, is in fact their rebellion and liberation. Indeed, OHO's work is strongly influenced by the doctrine of reism. This is reflected in the group as part of a broader discontent within the Yugoslav political system. The members speak of the hooligan role of art, which must act destructively if it is to liberate man from the conceptual shackles of the cultural order of the time. In the spirit of reism, things are thus liberated from the yoke of functionalism and their alienation, and function on the level of subjects in the autonomy they have achieved. Dialogue between people and things happens when people ask things to name themselves. But this action can also be seen as a political statement in the sense of: everyone is allowed to be who they are. It is a utopian liberation of things in the sense of reification.
The social system that the OHO group resisted in this way also left behind, when it collapsed, a number of monuments that once foreshadowed the utopia of the society to come, and which were used to preserve identity and determine the future. In fact, even monuments whose meaning has changed due to social or political changes have taken on a life of their own, most often in contrast to their often monumental and invincible appearance. The artists in the exhibition reflect on their role and fate and possible alternatives in different ways. The installation includes the works of: Yuri Avvakumov, Manca Bajec, György Galántai, Igor Grubić, Dejan Habicht, Sanja Iveković, Zofia Kulik, Vladimir Kupriyanov, Siniša Labrović, David Maljković, Slavko Matković, Nonument Group (Neja Tomšič, Martin Bricelj Baraga, Nika Grabar and Miloš Kosec) and New Collectivism. Part of the installation related to monuments refers to the documentary exhibition about the Second World War related monuments from the time of SFR Yugoslavia developed at the seminar Art for Collective Use at the Art History Department of the University of Ljubljana in cooperation with the Modern Gallery.
The consequences of the disintegration of the former common state of Yugoslavia, as a result of the political turmoil and conflicts of the early 1990s, were of course more long-term. In this context, part of the exhibition deals with the theme of war and the individuals and places marked by it. It addresses themes of cultural contradiction, social hierarchy and power relations, the state, identity, language, community and direct reactions to reality, as well as critiques of the past and doubts about the future. This section presents a selection of works by artists: Maja Bajević, Barbara Čeferin, Jošt Franko, Jusuf Hadžifejzović, Vlado Martek, Adrian Paci, Erzen Skholloli, Mladen Stilinović, Tone Stojko, Balint Szombathy, Nebojša Šerić Šoba, Škart, Škart & the Single Refugee Mothers’ Association from Zemun, Jane Štravs and Slaven Tolj.
Part of the exhibition is also the project Impure, Democratic, Concrete: The Westeast Project curated by Sezgin Boynik, which focuses on Franci Zagoričnik, one of the most active disseminators of experimental writing for the construction of a new language in the multilingual Socialist Yugoslavia aimed at giving things the rightful place and their own name.
Yuri Avvakumov | Manca Bajec | Maja Bajević | Barbara Čeferin | Walter De Maria | Jošt Franko | György Galántai | Igor Grubić | Dejan Habicht | Jusuf Hadžifejzović | Boštjan Hladnik | Sanja Iveković | Zofia Kulik | Vladimir Kupriyanov | Siniša Labrović | David Maljković | Vlado Martek | Slavko Matković | Impure, Democratic, Concrete: The Westeast Project (curated by Sezgin Boynik) | Nonument Group (Neja Tomšič, Martin Bricelj Baraga, Nika Grabar and Miloš Kosec) | New Collectivism | OHO (Marko Pogačnik, Milenko Matanović, David Nez, Andraž Šalamun, Naško Križnar, Iztok Geister, Matjaž Hanžek)| Adrian Paci | Erzen Skholloli | Mladen Stilinović | Tone Stojko | Balint Szombathy |Nebojša Šerić Šoba | Škart | Škart & the Single Refugee Mothers’ Association from Zemun | Jane Štravs | Slaven Tolj | The Lives of Monuments (Stojan Batič, Janez Boljka, Lojze Dolinar, Vinko Glanz, Boris Kalin, Zdenko Kalin, Boris Kobe, Branko Kocmut, Fedja Košir, Edo Mihevc, Emil Navinšek, Marko Pogačnik, Karel Putrih, Edvard Ravnikar, Jakob Savinšek, Frančišek Smerdu, Ive Šubic, Marjan Tepina, Slavko Tihec, Marko Župančič)
These projects are also on show alongside the exhibition Things Break Down:
– the temporary Slovenian dance archive, which was transferred to the protection of the Metelkova Museum of Contemporary Art in March 2018, where Rok Vevar performs a living archive in perpetuity; the archivist as an individual enters an institutional framework where they have spatial and material support while at the same time retaining their autonomy;
- TV Gallery by Dunja Blažević, who was a video contributor on contemporary art at Television Belgrade since 1981, is an important document of interdisciplinary, socially committed artistic and curatorial practice, and a model of conceptual public television and the place of art in it that is still relevant today;
- a chronology of [New] Tendencies by Darko Fritz presenting the development of the NT, which began as an exhibition of instruction-based, algorithmic, generative art in Zagreb in 1961 and then developed into an international movement and network of artists, gallerists, art critics, historians and theoreticians, which by 1965 included some 250 individuals.