East Side Story
Likovni salon, 16th April - 16th May 2010
The Croatian artist Igor Grubi? follows the path of activist art. In his work he reacts to events, states and process in society with sensitivity. In doing so he often adapts direct activist strategies, for the majority of his projects first take place in the streets and are only later placed within a gallery. His artistic activism is extremely personal and skilfully moves on the border between political and poetical. The project 366 rituals of freeing, which is comprised from a series of micro-political actions and interventions that were performed by the artist every day in 2008 is one of his most resonating artistic actions. In this action Grubi? adopted the role of a lonely revolutionary, who through constant training of his own disobedience spreads the virus of disobedience also to the other citizens and in this way tries to awaken them from their political passivity and consumerist lethargy. These daily rituals were realised in a scope ranging from utterly personal (the artist tattooed the word disobedient on his wrist) to true guerrilla undertakings such as for instance the intervention with the fountain in front of the Croatian National Bank in Zagreb, in which he painted the water bloody red on the day the American president George Bush visited Zagreb, or the multiple night-time 'beautifications' of the messages of the Ustasha graffiti and decorating public monuments with political paroles and symbols.
This time Igor Grubi? will present his work East Side Story, which is currently his most popular and sought after work. This work was recently awarded first prize by the T-HT Croatian Telekom, an award handed out in cooperation with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, which places the top three works into its permanent collection.
The title of the work paraphrases the musical West Side Story. The connection is shown by the theme - the conflict between various social groups - as well as the chosen medium of expression - dance choreography.
The work East Side Story is composed from a two channel video projection and a series of eleven photographs. The installation was created as a response to the events in Belgrade and Zagreb in 2001 and 2002, when the participants of the gay Pride parade were exposed to frightening physical violence from the neo-Nazi groups and other present citizens. The work shows the intolerance towards the different as well as draws attention to the fact that extreme nationalism - when the ethical Other is not present - can find its victims anywhere, in this case in marginalised sexual groups.
The first projection shows documentary shots of the riots and the attacks of the violent masses upon the participants of the Pride parade. The second video, projected with a delay, shows dancers who are re-enacting the events in a stylised dance choreography on the same spots where the violence took place.
The parallel projection of the two videos has an interesting effect. The documentary shots of the conflict between the macho, primitive society that denotes its superiority with nationalistic and neo-Nazi symbols, and the gay subculture carry a shocking emotional potential that is cathartically neutralised by the dance choreography.
Igor Grubi? (1969, Zagreb) has a number of solo and group exhibitions under his belt: Agency Gallery London, 2010, 11th Istanbul biannual 2009, Be A Happy Worker: Work-To-Rule, Miroslav Kraljevi? Gallery, 2008, Zagreb, Bad Joke, 2007, Tallin, October. Exit, Desire and Memory, Artra Gallery, 2007, Milano, Revolution is not a garden party, Trafo Gallery, 2006, Budapest, Side-effects, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2006, Beograd, Looking Awry, Apexart Gallery, 2003, New York, Imaginary Balkans, Site Gallery, 2002, Sheffield, Manifesta 4, 2002, Frankfurt, What, how and for whom, Kunsthalle Exmergasse, 2001, Vienna, etc.