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 “Protect me from what I want”.

Jenny Holzer’s neon lights prophetically come true and light the way to the abyss of self-producing desire. In a mad race to achieve dreams and desires, the main capitalist propaganda, we lose balance and touch with our immediate environment. In his work, Vitar Drinković throws down the gauntlet of challenge in our faces – can we accept it and reflect on our own existence? In the society of pseudo freedom, perfidious mechanisms of power establish internal order in a non-violent and almost imperceptible way.

Their power is not repressive, but manipulative and seductive, so instead of limiting the freedom of society, they simply harness it for their own purposes and gradually absorb it. Featured works simulate a kind of system, an organic whole, whose literal and symbolic development and outcome can be followed as an upward trajectory, an idealistic, but not utopian narrative. In the work titled “The System, Still Life“ the author unites two works into a conceptual whole. Concrete cast of a young bull’s decapitated head is a powerful and almost shocking motif. Trace of bare life, frozen in cold concrete mass, crowned with a halo of metal spoons – a perfect symbol of cheap, disposable tool of capitalism, which we use to willingly stuff ourselves with anything they decide to serve us. We throw ourselves into that meat grinder, our life is our capital – the sacrifice we offer at the altar of lethargic everyday life hoping for catharsis. But there is no way out of the limbo.

The vicious circle of capitalist reality, with its seductive glow of metal and plastic, lures us into the slavery of consumption and meaningless maintenance of precarious existence. We inevitably lose the inner struggle within ourselves. The moment we begin to exploit ourselves, the external oppressor disappears, the symbols of resistance become a commodity, and the possibility of revolution dies. The pessimistic vision of the human condition, a kind of ‘rock bottom’, also symbolized by exhibiting this work on the gallery’s ground floor is, however, changing. The author believes in the possibility of change and subversion of the system. His works, technically very complicated, and at the same time self-reflexive, bring a sort of twist – technology, the symbol of alienation of the modern society, becomes an instrument of bonding.    

Exhibited in the mezzanine is a work of suggestive title, “Sculpture for Communication 4“. A concrete cube with hand shaped slots on its four sides. Four people can put their hands into the slots at the same time and touch each other’s index fingers within the sculpture. Contact is made – we penetrate through the cold matter of everyday life to come out of the isolated egocentric system. The sculpture connects us, and art becomes a medium of communication.         

The direction of movement in space originates in a self-centred state of mind manifested in the work “Optics 3, Focus“ where blind, we stumble over our numerous reflections, running in circles like rodents in the wheel of silent, impotent (lack of) communication. We need the other one to reflect back, so we could finally understand, see ourselves – in interaction with others. Exhibited on the top floor is a kind of non-verbal communication experiment. “Sound of the Body“ is an interactive work that enables visitors to listen out loud to their heartbeats in public space. The act of revealing one’s own inner self is terrifying and liberating at the same time – we become bare and vulnerable, but therefore more open to others.

Faced with one’s essence, stripped of our own armour, we are free to participate in physical harmony.   “Breathing Time“ takes us to a meditative state where we break away from obsessive and unproductive self-analysis. Clock and a hypnotic movement of light are harmonized with the visitor’s breathing – s/he becomes the master of his/her own body and time. The intensity of light follows the intensity and rhythm of breathing. Time exists only while we are breathing, and we remain anchored in the present moment. Insisting on a hushed rebellion, the author uses his work as an instrument of warning and critical action. In search of lost empathy and feeling of solidarity, art is offered as resistance to apathy and isolation of today.

Do we exist only when the other speaks to us? Does the answer lie in this nonverbal physical communication – inclusive and non-discriminatory? In the vicious grind of everyday life, will we be able to take our eyes off our own reflection in the lake, off the hidden portraits in the attic and joint the rhythm of numerous beats with calm breath?

 

 

Ana Bedenko

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