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Prosthetic bodies

Exhibition titled “Prosthetic bodies” will take place in Progres gallery, in Belgrade, from 11th till 21st September. This exhibition is the continuation of the previous show “ Civilization and its Discontent”, hold in in April, in O3one gallery.

Artists:

Jarrod Sanderson

Shikiko Aoyama

Vuk Vučković

Jelena Marković

Srđan Đile Marković

Vojislav Radovanović

Dragana Grujičić

Emilija Stojaković

Milica Ružičić

Nikola Kolja Božović

Nevena Prljić

Brankica Končarević

Davor Dukić

Igor Ajman

Marina Marković

Predrag Damjanović

Katarina Carmignani

Jana Stojaković

Marcella and The Forget me Nots

Marina Hoermanseder

Curator Jana Stojaković

The topic is human body subjected to various, mostly cruel interventions, in order to satisfy imposed social models and gender roles. Body building, steroids, plastic (aesthetic) surgery, with diverse prosthetic implants are only one step from androids, cyborgs and robots…

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Civilization and its Discontents

Exhibition Civilization and its Discontents will be opened from April 22nd at 7 pm until May 6th 2013 in O3one gallery, Anricev venac 12.

Artists:

Vladislav Šćepanović

Milica Ružičić

Srđan Đile Marković

Tadija Janičić

Predrag Damjanović

Vladimir Markoski

Vladimir Miladinović

Davor Dukić

Nikola Kolja Božović

Curator:

Jana Stojaković

Civilization and its Discontents[1]

Modern life, at least in developed societies, seems like an endless accumulation of characteristics of joy and happiness, ’from the shop-windows dazzling with goods to advertisements that light smile up, from sunny beaches to the body of your dreams, from relaxation to media entertainment, everything shows signs of a happy hedonism that rich societies are proud of’ (Lipovecki, 2008. str. 173).

Everywhere we hear the songs to better life, we run into the cathedrals dedicated to all sorts of items and leisure, everything is sold with the promise of pleasure, offered in a too wide a choice… For more than a half century theorists have directed our attention to the revolution of needs, while artists have reacted in their own, specific ways. By conquering all domains, capitalism creates a world of images and fantasies that require a completely new way of presenting and experiencing the world, and by this, identity. In that way, capitalism changes and transforms the concepts of mass production and consumption, breaking them into smaller areas, permeating the narrow segments of the society, the undiscovered space that gives it a new meaning. The main characteristic of the industrial capitalism of modern time – homogenization, is replaced by the uniqueness, diversity and creativity of post-industrial capitalism. New images are constantly being created, there is the influence of different lifestyles, while trans-cultural entertainment, film, television, clothing and food make “unlimited space of aesthetic and intellectual possibilities” (Djordjevic, 2009:409), where culture can no longer be viewed in terms of the earlier principles of divisions and demarcations, based on the fear of unification. One must not neglect the fact that the forms of consumption and lifestyles in fact belong to the West, where exactly the economic, political and cultural monopoly of powers is rooted, the powers that possess cultural global power as well.

Contemporary theory, but also contemporary art along with it, recognizes culture as a set of “identity codes and discourses”, which are all united by the omnipresent consumerism. By explaining meanings, and demystifying hegemonic discourses involved in different aspects of culture, awareness is being developed that there is nothing eternal, no universally valid Truth or Justice. Culture, society, and values are only the elements of a continuous, changeable process of labeling. The tendency to destabilize the anchoring points, the doubts about the truth penetrates every segment of the “hyper-modern” civilization which irreversibly strives for progress and the increase of wealth. The culture that has thoroughly destroyed traditional values promoting the idea that everything must be examined and deconstructed, has faced the absence of order, support and structure to the extent that it has lost the ability to offer meaningful existence to an individual. Neurosis, fear and depression have taken on tremendous proportions throughout the world; yet, what is worse than that is formless, subdued, universal fear, without a clearly designated object, silent, but devastating fear that creeps into the daily lives of people. Why is that so in the culture that is becoming richer every day, the culture without bans, the one with a range of choices? Lack of support, foundation, and order in thoughts and ideas, ideals, history, and art creates anxiety, breeds fear and uncertainty. The vast expanse of global communication space abolishes the limits of perception and evaluation of reality: physical space too becomes the space with no beginning or end, without borders, both as a result of new technologies, and the political construction of the world. The same thing is happening with the time which, subject to the maximum acceleration, devours knowledge and information, thoughts, feelings, and relations, making, “a hysterical series of overpopulated moments” out of human lives (Djordjevic, p. 420), what abolishes the time itself, but also what defines it – and that is continuity. When these two categories are abolished, those of space and time, on which people build their relationship to reality, the fundamentals of the familiar until now, normal functioning disappears. Space and time, augmented by a large number of unlimited possibilities, become elusive, amorphous, and terrifying.

Schizoidity is a metaphor for the civilization that we live in, and it can only be supported by the theory of chaos. At the same time we are trapped in “the clutches of power” and placed in front of an immense wealth of choices. The post-culture man, as termed by J. Djordjevic, is insecure, filled with anxiety and scared. It is exactly in one of the two ways that this fear of chaos can be resolved: by creating order or falling into violence and destruction. The inability to establish a balance between freedom and order results in the strengthening of various types of radicalism, which we have been witnesses of for a decade in this region. The artists, whose works are represented in this exhibition, recognize, in their different ways, these sharp contrasts, brought to the extreme. The absence of effective balance mechanisms that cause fear, discomfort and confusion, escalates into violence and destruction. The issues that this exhibition poses are: is the fear of violence easier to bear than the unidentified, unnamed fear without a clearly defined object? And, does the contemporary man relies on violence when trying to deal with the “burden of freedom” and the incredible possibilities of choices, agreeing thus to the model tailored in advance according to which those have been made?

Considering the time of abundance as the time that inflames interpersonal conflicts, rather than creates a climate of ease and benevolence, the civilization of wellbeing intensifies the feelings of hatred and jealousy, rivalry and competition among one’s fellow beings; market incentive is only an illusion that conceals a vicious war of all against all. Consumer societies have inspired the extreme individualization of lifestyles and aspirations. For more than two centuries, the modern process of emancipation of an individual has acted through law and politics, production and science; the twentieth century has extended this dynamics through mass consumption and mass media. How is it possible that the constant improvement of material conditions of life does not, at the same time, entail the decrease of the discontent in civilization? The main paradox is that the pleasure experienced is more diversified than ever, while the joy of life retreats, and happiness seems as unattainable at the time when we have, at least apparently, more opportunities to enjoy it, as when such opportunities are away. “This condition does not make us closer to either hell or heaven: it simply defines the moment of paradoxical happiness” (Lipovecki, p. 176), the shadows of which we shall try to catch at this exhibition.

The topic which we inevitably meet in most works is exactly the topic or the idea of violence. To determine the notion, it is necessary to take a step back, become detached from the “fascinating challenge of the direct subjective violence performed by a clearly identifiable perpetrator” (Zizek, 2008:7), and instead, try to make out the outlines of the background which generates such outbursts. This step makes it possible to identify the violence that supports those efforts of ours to fight against it, advocate tolerance, (or, as some of the artists present here do, probelmatize through parody – both violence, and fear directly related with it). According to Zizek, subjective violence is only the invisible apex consisting of two more kinds of objective violence. The first one is “symbolic” violence embodied in language and its imposition of a certain universe of meaning. The second, “systemic” violence refers to the often disastrous consequences of the functioning of our economic and political systems. Subjective violence is perceived as the “violation” of “normal“, quiet state of affairs. However, objective violence is exactly that kind of violence ’inherent’ in “normal” state of affairs” (Zizek, p. 8). Objective violence is invisible since it supports such a state, as opposed to which, when disturbed, violence is experienced as subjective. To be perceived, a skewed view is needed, or the parallax. It is exactly this parallax that has made a key criterion for the selection of works in this exhibition. Although systemic violence, as a counterweight to too visible subjective violence, may be invisible, it needs to be taken into account in order to understand the meaning of what appears to be the “irrational” outburst of subjective violence.

What kind of art, then, is the one capable of displaying violence, and describing it? It is something that Wallace Stevens (Wallace Stevens, in Zizek, 2008:10) calls “a description without a place”.

This is not a representation that places the content into historical time and space, but the one that, by becoming the background of the phenomenon that it represents, creates its own non-existent (virtual) space in such a way that what appears in it is not the phenomenon supported by the depth of reality behind it, but the phenomenon without context which exactly matches the actual being; as Wallace Stevens said, “something that seems to be and after which everything exists”. Such artistic display derives its own internal form from the confusing reality.

 

 

Milica Stojaković


[1] Term taken from S. Freud, from the text with the same title (Das Unbehagen in der Kultur, 1930). Development of culture Freud understands as unique process to which humanity is subjected; however, happiness and freedom, according to Freud, are not the result of culture since it lies upon repression, restriction and suppression of instinctive demands and desires.

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