Views from Abroad
Sandro Đukić (HR) and Slaven Tolj (HR)
18.11.2011 - 7.1.2012
Galerie Michaela Stock & NEXT DOOR galerie michaela stock
Schleifmühlgasse 18, 1040 Vienna
Slaven Tolj (*1964 in Dubrovnik/HR) is a multimedia artist from Dubrovnik, Croatia. He achieved international recognition for his installations, body art, and performances presenting distinct political and social-cultural criticism. The beginning of Slaven Tolj’s work, as an artist, was determined by his experiences of the Yugoslav War, the victory of Dubrovnik by the Yugoslavian army in the years 1991-1992, as well as the disintegration of former Yugoslavia. In the course of the late 1990s Slaven Tolj gradually extended the scope of his art, incorporating themes and issues related to political transformation and the emergence of multiculturalism and globalization.
Slaven Tolj has also been involved in organisational and curatorial activities. He is one of the founders of Art Workshop Lazareti in Dubrovnik – a key institution for contemporary art scene in Dubrovnik and Croatia.
“I love Zagreb” (2008) by Slaven Tolj documents a performance that paraphrases 2 different works from the 1970s. „I love Zagreb” on the one hand is a homage to the performance „Zagreb I Love You“(1971) by Tomislav Gotovac, who was exhibited in the Croatian Pavillon at this year’s Biennale in Venice. The second part of the Tolj’s performance was titled “Operation: City 2008”. This part of the performance is a hint at the murder of Ivo Pukanic, the former owner of the newspaper „Nacional”. At his assassination the suspect, who wore a black motorbike helmet, was filmed leaving and escaping by a CCTV camera. This video is integrated in the performance as a video installation.
In his performance Tolj unites the performance of Gotovac and the murder of Ivo Pukanic. A black helmet – with closed visor – takes him through the downtown area of Zagreb. Thus he toys with complete anonymity; he isn’t naked like Gotovac was in his performance in the 70s.
“I paraphrased the title of Gotovac’s performance and the place of the action – Zagreb city centre. While Gotovac walked naked and lay down on the asphalt of Zagreb high-street Ilica “making love” to the city, I walked the city centre completely masked and covered. This way I emphasized different contexts of these two performances, the difference between the conditions of these two actions; the differences between the social and cultural environments of time they were created; the differences in the meaning of art then and now”.
Sandro Đukić (* 1964 in Zagreb/HR) was a student of the video art pioneers Nam June Paik and Nan Hoover. As a new-media artist he is constantly dealing with co-relations of different media such as photography, video, computer-processing, storing, documentation and archiving data, that resembles reality exposed to this process of photographing and disclosing through media. He moves from one medium to another with ease. By doing so, he applies different layers and meanings of space. He defines himself as virtual visual artist with tendencies towards a critical interpretation of space and date of inception of the artwork. For the last 20 years he researched archives and concentrated on the multimedia-based presentation of these archives.
In his essay “Das Unbehagen in der Kultur” [The discomfort in culture] written in 1930 Sigmund Freud thought about the importance and meaning culture has on the human mind, which conditions hold responsible for the development and preservation of culture and therefore are required to be fulfilled. Sandro Đukić tries to delve further into these Freudian thoughts. The object of his artistic-scientific analysis is a though construct in which the actual object loses his concrete entity and more or less becomes a fragmentary image of the original object.
In his 9-part photographic cycle, video and a large scale installation Đukić deals with the themes nature/culture, transience of the body, the relationships to other people, as well as the “inner life” of human beings. With his works Đukić tries to demonstrate that the way people communicate with each other has significantly changed.
Another subject Đukić will refer to in his art cycle is a common established prejudice: Art fundamentally is seen as either critical or subversive. But what is being ignored here is the fact that art is frequently used to stabilize existing systems or to hail rulers. Art not only is subversive but a lot of times it can be conservative, show restorative tendencies or simply is reactionary. That is why art isn’t and hasn’t always served in the – positive – development of societies. On the contrary: Art equally is an adequate medium to create and establish stereotypes.