alkyd and acrylic on canvas, 2013, 120x130cm
alkyd on canvas, 2014, 120x130cm
alkyd on canvas, 2013, 120x130cm
Monument to the Free World
alkyd on canvas, 130x140cm, 2014
olje na platnu, 100x100cm, 2015
Mysteries of the Forest
acrylic, alkyd and golden leaves on canvas,, 120x130cm, 2014
In his work Kleindienst focuses on the network as an illusion, as a product of an ideology that sells the idea of freedom coupled with the inclusion of individuals in this network, which then becomes the exclusive field of their interaction. Decade are a trilogy of paintings dealing with the establishment of control over the social, political or economic sphere. The First Decade is talking about military interventions and social stratification; the Second Decade is about the economic crisis and the abolition of public spaces; the Third Decade is about the impossibility of making collective political statements, for every statement ends in the dump yard of yesterday's news.
Monument to the Free World courtesy of Riko Art Collection
Does the cosmos have a center? In its most abstract form, the idea of the cosmos inevitably includes a sense of infinity, potentiality, and freedom: the cosmos as the boundless space beyond the horizon, the cosmos as the imagination of humanity’s progress, the cosmos as a network of egalitarian social relations. But is it really so?
In my work, I focus on the network as an illusion, as a product of an ideology that sells the idea of freedom coupled with the inclusion of individuals in this network, which then becomes the exclusive field of their interaction. Or as Igor Zabel writes in his essay “Tišina stvari” (The Silence of Things): “The idea of interactivity as ‘equality’ between an individual and the network, i.e., the equality between the two sides of the interface, is fairly illusory. The network itself determines the limits of freedom and the nature of the game, and the apparently complete freedom of interfering in the network in reality constitutes the actualization and the functioning of the network.” Thus we could say that, hiding behind the illusion of a network, there is a circular configuration with a center that directs its trajectories outward and imposes conditions on all points, including the most peripheral ones. In this sense, the idea of the cosmos (or the idea of conquering the cosmos) relates more to appropriating this limitlessness, to colonization and privatization, which are the domain of the ruling class, than to the idea of a more just social order. The cosmos thus not only does have limits, it also has a central point of authority and a periphery dominated by the center. After all, science-fiction literature and cinema dealing with conquering space almost always have undertones of totalitarianism, control, slavery, etc. Often, their premise is the end of life on Earth and the (cleansing) moment of a new beginning after our civilization has conclusively ruined our planet, while the Noah’s Arc of the future can only accommodate a small, select group of the privileged who’ve earned their ticket for a new life through their social connections and (financial and political) clout. This privileged class that gets a chance to create a new, more sterile society has its Other in the radiation-disfigured bodies of the masses, the rabble that pays the ultimate price for being social failures—along with the planet, they perish. What becomes apparent in this relation is not only a radical form of the binary social division in capitalism, but above all—amplified to its ultimate form—the relation between a state of emergency and the ensuing class division.
Naively, perhaps, we might see a similarity between the idea of the endless expanses of the cosmos and those of art—art as a space in which creativity finds its concrete forms that transcend their material boundaries and become part of the universe of cultural exchange. We could even say that the spectator’s ritual of interacting with an artwork clouds the background of circumstances, the production conditions under which the work was made. Thus, like the case of the cosmos, the illusion of an open network obscures the strict hierarchical relations underlying the production, historicization, valorization, and, ultimately, the very formation of an artistic subject. Wide expanses are replaced by positions of power, institutions, juries, curators, collectors, all instrumental in works and artists even approaching this universalist illusion, let alone becoming a part of it. The infinity of the art system cosmos is thus reduced to minor random events and coincidences, chance encounters and acquaintances, the stamps left on an artist’s CV by awards and prizes, and last but not least, in this cosmos, to an artist’s practice being at least roughly compatible with the curator’s idea.
 Igor Zabel, “Tišina stvari”, Speculationes (Ljubljana: Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis, 1997), p. 147.
Staš Kleindienst (born 1979) finished his MA in fine art in 2009 at the Academy of Fine Art and Design in Ljubljana. His work addresses the issue of origin, representation, and naturalization of power and authority. In this respect he is also interested in detecting and depicting totalitarian sub-context of democratic societies. He works mainly in painting and drawing. In 2014 he won the OHO Group Award, the main national visual arts award for young visual artists. He lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia.