A Dilettante Discourse

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Mladen Bundalo

01 TEN MINUTES FOR EXISTENCE OF ART

Paralelně se studiem výtvarného umění se Miroslav věnoval rozvíjení svých jízdních dovedností s bagrem.

Paralelly with his studies of visual art, Miroslav was developing  his excavator’s driving skills.

During the last year, Miroslav realized a series of performances in which he was drawing a humane portraits, using a metal hand of the excavator as a color brush, and among other aspects of the work, formally demonstrating his skills and precision in using this big machine.

Without possibility for professional engagement (visual arts), as a last opportunity of being employed, he forwarded this video performances to the head-quoter of local Arcelor-Mittal’s iron mines. After few months, Miroslav did necessary training and the iron mine formally employed him at the position of a damper driver.

 

This emblematic video is an insight into a “mental transcript” of an artist who is totally dislocated from conditions of “being an artist”, but who risks to contemplate about art’s issues into a routine of driving a huge machine at a dangerous working place. This video presents an unexpected framing of art issues, at the place, formally so far from the expected art context. This “unexpected art context” is not based on an assumption that Miroslav is an artist who at a certain cognitive moment deals with something taken from a general social ether, but more on the fact that he’s an artist employed because of his formal skills in handling big machines.

Reading the whole action in this way, the significant point of the work is that Miroslav does not take the new working place as an art medium, but something we (or they) consider art is, he takes as a medium for being employed as an damper driver.

Miroslav Stakic

Born in Sisak, Croatia (1983).

He’s advanced university student at Academy of arts in Banja Luka, department of painting. Lives and works in Prijedor (BiH) as conceptual-video artist and damper driver.

He’s known to public through his experimenting with big machines and very active video production.

www.miroslavstakic.com

 

02 CONTEMPORARY CEMETERIES

Současné hřbitovy již nemají takovou majestátnost jako dříve. Ať ale tak či onak, stále si uchovávají určité zásadní znaky, dominance jednotlivých hrobů záleží na potřebě a motivaci pozůstalých.

Contemporary cemeteries have no single meaning stronghold. Anyhow, some notions are dominating, making the two primary layers and describing the motivation of their relation.

Those two semantic layers are in a direct visual correlation, it’s issue of “multicultural cemeteries” within Bosnia and Herzegovina and general “diversity of TV noises”.

This video shows contemporary cemetery in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where some of tombs started to emit video noises. These video signals are nicely framed in an architecture of tombs and seem to be a previously planed tombs’, long-awaited video activity. Such tombs’ video activity overwhelmingly evokes the issues of Boris Groys’ essay Religion in the age of digital reproduction, in which he exams obvious “religious renaissance” within visual medias and its implications to revision of distribution of religious discourse.

Tombs are in media space of Bosnia and Herzegovina one of the most beloved objects. Their type, size, numbers, time and space, are “from some reasons” in constant media actualization.

Religious objects, in this case a tombs, by randomly giving sing of media life, evoke to a sort of “natural” relationship between contemporary religious discourse and its needs to be mediated by most direct ways, appropriating the media’s visual language in the most absurd formats. Poetically said, this Bosnjak’s contemporary cemeteries landscape seems to be an illustration of embry phase of religious-media organism, which is created by accumulated religious-electricity, being ready soon for an own, cemeteries broadcast or even podcast.

Igor Bosnjak

Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (1981).

He’s PhD student on Theory of art and media, University of Arts in Belgrade.

Lives and work in Trebinje (BiH) as a conceptual artist, video-curator and assistant professor at Academy of fine arts in Trebinje.

He presented his work at numerous exhibition, screaming, presentations and publications.

www.igorbosnjak.com

 

03 QUISLING

V prosinci 2010 publikoval týdeník World News prohlášení Johna Malleye, ve kterém oznámil, že mimozemská hrozba přichází v březnu 2011. John Malley se prezentoval jako vedoucí expert SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), který si všiml, že v těsné blízkosti planety Jupiter se nachází tři obrovské kosmické lodě.

In December 2010, Weekly world news published John Malley’s statement in which he announced that extraterrestrial threat is coming in March 2011. John Malley has represented himself as a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) lead expert who noticed a three huge spaceships located close to Jupiter.

This news, does not matter how crucial it seemed, had no echo in wide public, primarily because ridicule claims which are talking about the origin of spaceships (planet Zeeba), or relation between upcoming alien’s invasion with fish mortality in Arkansas.

It’s obvious that March has passed without ET invasion. However , in July 2011, Weekly world news has updated John Malley’s announcement for November this year, on the completely same news’ link. Relative to the last time, the update had very powerful echo in wide public, and the beginning of Balkan counter-version of Welles’ The war of the worlds, started with Österreich (Tageszeitung) newspapers. Extracted from Österreich, the news rapidly spread among all important Serbian and Bosnian-Herzegovinian newspapers and TV channels. On Radio television of Srpska Republic (B-H), it was the breaking news in the noon’s news screaming of 14 July 2011.

Dragan’s video performance takes a psychology of reaction on news of E.T. invasion, as a tool for understanding formats of collective fear in a certain social frame. In this case, it’s about demoralized and fearless actual Bosnian society, which hardly understands something else could be a threat except for local inhabitants of opposite religious attitudes. This implies that Bosnian-Herzegovinian society has a negligible reaction to the traditionally “imaginary” collective fears, such as an extraterrestrial invasion. Even in the case of main-stream/regime medias (truth-teller) supported news.

Dragan has climbed onto the top of his building, and installed banners which are to help to the ET’s attacking plan. He decided to believe in the emitted news, such declaring himself inter-galactic “political attitude” as a sort of a satirical necessity.

Evoking the negative notion of Quisling, he plays with unexpected reaction to fear-generative news, as a sort of rebellion of intellect, abusing the content of news against its proposal of emitting.

Dragan Indjic

Born in Sanski Most, Bosnia and Herzegovina (1983).

Graduated at Academy of Arts in Banja Luka, department of graphics.

Lives and works in Prijedor (BiH) as a conceptual artist and freelance graphic designer.

He’s co-founder and active member of Tač.ka art group, known by experiments in the field of subversive institutional critic.

He presented his work in the frame of Tač.ka’s activity at parallel events to Manifesta 7 in Trento and other Tač.ka’s activities such is No-Exhibition project (2008-) and Imaginary pavilion (2007-)

www.tacka.org

04 Mladen Bundalo: A Dilettante Discourse?

What kind of contemporary artists come from Bosnia and Herzegovina? What kind of cultural figures did the generation of the upcoming artists in Bosnia have at their disposal, at the time of their “spontaneous cultural formation”, until they have (in)formally decided to become a part of the discourse of “the contemporary visual art”? Which is the social either that they venture in today? What are the formats, quantities, qualities, lectures, exhibitions, conversations and books which a young artist has at his/her disposal in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Why are those subjects conditional dilettantes compared to their “Western-European” colleagues who grew up in preponderance of available materials connected to a practical use of contemporary art?
Together with the questions by which the text almost aggressively puts forward its cognitive fascinations, it’s not all that difficult to decipher who is the text about, and the way they are approached.

Aside from the challenge to elaborate on all the qualities which the selective works of this live-streaming carry, and to rhetorically legalize the selected artists inside the sphere of the current world critique, my choice is conditionally opposite. In Chapter I, I will write about the figures of handicap of these artists and their works in the format of traditional cultural discourse constructed on the distribution of knowledge before the Internet revolution. Chapter II is concerned with a brief analysis of the younger generations’ way of compensating for the handicaps connected to the distribution of knowledge inside the traditional physical systems and, moreover, how they acknowledge the notion of dilettante based on the absence of “physical” knowledge in relation to the cultural contexts to which the dilettante norms are bound within Chapter I.

Reasons

I do not undertake that gesture as an attraction that a custodian text juggles with as a contrast to the automated content that these texts usually possess and maintain their quality, while damaging artists in the process. [Case: Vittorio Sgarbi, Italian pavilion on the 54th Venice Biennial.]
First of all, it’s about realizing the “back structure” which “in formal case”, damages not just the selected artists in this online streaming but all the contemporary artists who grew up in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the past few decades. The mentioned “back structure” cannot easily be named socio-political, geo-political, historical, physical isolation effect, nor the effects of continuous and infrequent live physical contact with the questions of contemporary art (from theory to concrete happenings and realizations). This back structure is concerned with all the mentioned names and notions and thus could, most realistically, be named as the morphology of general, physical, cultural ether inside which a young, contemporary artist of that space and time is formed and where he moves. Furthermore, the adjective ‘back’ does not just evoke some kind of an omnipresent structure which is formed in the works of young artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also evokes a certain distance, remoteness and absence of argument about practical effects of one such structure.
Another reason for contextualizing the actual selection is based on the need to employ relations inside the intertwined circumstances formed around all subjects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially those who emit an aspiration for appropriation of a discourse of contemporary art, formed somewhere else (far away from Bosnia and Herzegovina), and its imitation, commenting and criticizing. It’s about the relations which occur “here” and “now”.

Fortunately or not, those relations do not offer anything specific by which this particular group of young artists could be distinguished as special in today’s world, unlike the (un)fortunate first generation of young artists from this country who are bound to the war period of Bosnia and Herzegovina in a working, motivational and experiential way. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, as Žižek says, there is a fear of coming out of the focus of interest; we have nothing interesting and compassionate to offer to the world of mass-media industry. Certain contemporary artists, as partially nostalgic intellectuals, still believe they can find someone interested in the war story of the ‘90s, and that they will, through their more or less intricate metaphors, intrigue, for “mythological emulsifiers” the ever vigilant and prepared “West” [Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzM8tqjmCU8]. Nevertheless, those are fewer and fewer and those most convinced in the essence of those lasting, (to myself, personally) largely obsolete, temporal relations, have begun to doubt their own semantic intensity of this time, desperately putting them from one medium to another and refreshing them with the new methods of interpretation. Be that as it may, the inner relation on which the discourse of contemporary art of Bosnia and Herzegovina is based exists, and that discourse has its actual identity which we will underline here and juxtapose to its “original-ideal” to which it obviously aspires.
So as not to damage the experience of another contemporary artist inside the numerous times mentioned state in this text, which, beside all the differences, cannot be radically different from my own, I shall stick to the facts based on my experience only.

I

I grew up in a small town which reconstructed its cinema just two years ago. The programme of the cinema is based on the Hollywood blockbusters and the Serbian commercial classics. I gained the access to cinematography through local cinematheques in which the most avant-garde film is Natural Born Killers from Oliver Stone, with somewhat quality production of ex-Yugoslavian film. Practically, I know very little about world cinematography, nor inside my physical surroundings do I have access to the knowledge of cinematography, unlike my “Western” colleagues with similar intellectual sensibility who, not only have access to a multitude of cinematography, but also to the excessive reviews of that cinematography.
A chance for a more systematic insight of a video art and somewhat an experimental film, I had during the namaTREba.ba video fest in Trebinje and Kratkofil film fest in Banja Luka, and that’s all that happened for the past four years; before that there had been a complete and utter darkness in that regard.
The available literature which deals with the topics of contemporary art? The domestic authors and their works practically don’t exist, aside from a few interesting texts which serve as the introduction to exhibition pamphlets, written by some domestic “theorists”.
Intellectually hungry, I manage to survive on foreign translated texts from Croatia and Serbia (luckily, with the same language area which Bosnians are obstinately trying to change), where the publishers I’m interested in exist to some extent. Today, in Bosnia and Herzegovina there is not a single magazine which is concerned with art reviews. The Vizura magazine ceased to exist after several issues and the magazine Tačka has been waiting for its fourth issue for four years already. I am not familiar with the existence of any publishing houses which translate theoretical debates of today nor do I have any insight of what is happening with visual art and the following rhetorical paradigms, inside or outside the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, occurring Here and Now. Several cultural institutions which foster contemporary art see and acknowledge the same as “Great Biennial“ with many exclusive guests who are prepared to impress the “domestic elite“ with their intricate metaphors (in the sense of productivity).

Here is a quote from the practically only one critically oriented group: “pioneer conversations, analytic processing and critical freedom, characteristic for the needs of a narrow, discursive space, represses, condemns and does not realize inside the cultural institutions of the state.“ [A group of visual artists Tač.ka: http://tacka.org/htm/tacka_eng.html]

I have used every invitation, opportunity for a shorter or longer holiday or students’ time abroad, in the countries of the European Union, collecting any pamphlets or books that were available for me.

Based on this, there are two conclusions:
-Young, contemporary artists who grew up in Bosnia and Herzegovina do not live through contemporary art, in the sense of absence of continuous contact with the contents of contemporary art and its connection with the cultural ether as a whole.
-For their young, Western-European colleagues who move along much more complex sphere of happenings and occurrences, connected to the discourse of contemporary art inside the physical space, they are formally dilettantes.

dil·et·tante/ˌdiliˈtänt/:
1. a person who claims an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.
2. a person having a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge.
3. an admirer or lover of the arts.

Intertext

Nevertheless, there is always a ‘but’. But, even among this pessimistic illustration of formal inferiority of young Bosnian and Herzegovian artists, they often manage to neutralize the negative effects of their physical and cultural ether. How?

II

In most concrete terms, the password for this question is: THE INTERNET!
For a young generation of artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina who have only recently, physically or virtually got in touch with the current discourse of contemporary art in a culturally and economically developed part of the Europe and World, the Internet is not only used as a resource for physically unavailable content but also as a discursive space of their contemporary art.
During the first, physical contacts with my young, European colleagues, I was surprised by a small number of results when googling their names, the frequent absence of a personal web-portfolio, and any other online insight into their works. I found it incredible that it was about already “renowned” young artists with long curriculum vitae who left so little trail on the Internet. In essence, my, then such a banal questioning contained many cognitive figures which are bound to numerous important paradoxes connected to the unchangeable projection of a discourse of contemporary art on various socio-political and cultural structures, but more importantly, deviations in the perception of the Internet and its engagement in the discourse of contemporary art, inside various socio-political structures. Normally, within the widely spread system of contemporary art in the sense of the existence of institutions which present art in a physical space, simple access to the abundant printed publication, expanded and active reviews, simply, the continuity of quality and quantity of happenings and occurrences, young artists perceive Internet as a primary discursive platform in a slow manner; more than an outstanding medium for self-promotion or a fast and simple insight into the working schedule of cultural institutions which they approach physically. Moreover, they often see it as a threatening medium which with its distribution of digital image, sound and video, casts a blight on the myth of the ”original” and threatens the authorship, on condition that it is about artists for whom is, “among other things”, important to get to the art market under the cover of ‘gallery people’.

Why would someone purchase a video or film which has been, during two years of its online streaming, copied and downloaded an infinite number of times, in the original quality of its sound and video? On the other hand, for self-promotion, it is good to “attach” a photo documentation, but under no circumstances in high resolution which could then be printed. Such photos function as a marker for the original which is, in its original format, kept safe from uncontrolled distribution.
In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, consequently to the relations of what we called general, physical and cultural ether, the Internet is the most acceptable “cultural institution”, specifically for the distribution of the current artistic production and its contact with the relative review.
Chat canals and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) enable “live” discussion to artists often distanced from one another and in small numbers, theorists and reviewers who don’t have a frequent chance for professional contacts or just interaction inside a physical space. Online video services enable insight into the current video production. Photo albums of social networks are often piled up with photo documentation of “physical” works. Computer folders are packed with PDF books and magazines. Of course, it is impossible to generalize the access and perception of the Internet within a discourse which is partially based on the comparison of “here” and “there”, but differences are clearly present. What is even more important, those differences are today sufficient to characterize the whole generation of young artists in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s less and less about the pursuit of a collective identity of a single generation within a culturally-historical context, and more about locating that identity inside the relation of a generation with the dominant world, digital and online culture. In that sense, the Internet represents a compensation for a cinema, cinematheque, library, gallery, as well as a table upon which contemporary art is debated, and a phantom limb of a mutilated body of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s contemporary art.

05 Autoři výstavy

Kurátor: Mladen Bundalo
Autor textů: Mladen Bundalo
Realizace: Lenka Střeláková a Janek Rous
Publikováno: 18. 8. 2011