System error

System error

System error is the title of a series of paintings and a video that deals with various current social issues. Each painting shows a musician or band while simultaneously transmitting political messages using the names of bands, newspaper or song texts, as associations for building a story.The world in which we live today, unfortunately, only at first glance leaves the impression of a liberal, nonviolent and tolerant society in which wars, discrimination, human trafficking and child abuse are a sad memory of the ancient past. We witness dozens of wars, both in the Balkans and the Middle East, only in the last few decades.  The world has not become more generous, only the economies of presentation are different. This series of works seeks to indicate   such “blind spots” in the collective consciousness of mankind, in order to open, in a different, indirect and yet completely transparent way, the issue of individual, civic and national freedom,  tolerance and, of course, the resistance that occurs in such situations.The selection made here in connection with the choice of persons from the popular culture, from “The Beatles” and “The Doors”, Marilyn Monroe and “The Clash”, could not bypass Madonna and Michael Jackson, icons from the end of the last century, including other subversive elements from the music world, such as “Sisters of Mercy”, “Joy Division”, “Placebo”, “The Antwoord “.

The eclectic trend, present in the past decades in the theory and art, in the mass culture reaches its peak in patchwork, while in this series it is manifested through the linking of computer options with particular persons and contexts that become new and different, namely through the introduction of such seemingly unrelated and incompatible sentences, phrases and commands. Members of “The Beatles” and four ladybugs eating pests, ie. blights in camouflage uniforms, lead to a story about the system in which we live, which is ‘’bugging’’, actually not working properly. Lenon’s message, from the long gone 1970s, against the war in Vietnam, is today as equally up-to-date as at that time. Breaking to the other side, characteristic for the hippie generation, against the establishment, fixed norms and consumer society, in the image of Morrison, comes out of the computer window that says “Windows”. Such a context tells us that today, although there is not a singular, there are a lot of smaller resistances, as a zef (a South African style that can be defined as a ghetto “fancy”, modern and “trash”. Members of this band for “zef” say: “You do not have money, but you are sexy and have style.”] aesthetics of the South African band “Die Antwoord” or a subversive version of playing with identity, sexuality, addiction and above all, public image of self – on social networks, like Placebo. Resistance is visible through the texts of the band “The Clash”, which fight with the law, ends with the victory of that same law and the system that sets barbed wire. With the separation of these and those, in fear of terrorism, the state has the cover for the establishment of a police state, in which not only migrants suffer, but everyone.

On the music scene, these micro-resistances appear in each subsequent decade, after the 70s; a new wave was created the band with an unusual name “Joy Division”. The allusions to Nazi Germany, where Jews were taken to brothels called Joy Divisions, was used to raise the issue of the great problem of modern times: child pornography and prostitution, as well as the Internet, filled with the most diverse porn contents. Torrent sites that allow the user to anonymously download copyrighted files have been used as an inspiration in this work, with one difference, instead of files, children are downloaded.Traces of riot that appear as a necessary consequence of systematic maltreatment by the state, can be found in the mainstream, as well as on the margins. The name of the painting “Sisters of Mercy” refers to both the nuns and the Gothic rock band. The merciful sisters on the painting stand on the windows of the computer program Clean Master for cleaning junk files, while hitting members of the band “Sisters of Mercy”, who, as vampires – addicts, have blood in the corners of the lips.The standards of success set by the system, as far as hidden and twisted in the face of tolerance, sometimes are simply unattainable. With the song, “Black or white,” Michael Jackson, shown on the painting in three phases, like a black boy, a young man of an androgynous appearance, operated and with bleached skin, and, as a grotesque figure in the later period, initiates an old theme of racism. Although today it can sound almost passé, it is still very up-to-date. Political correctness turns out to be hypocrisy, which Jackson by himself proves with the text of the song and bleaching the skin. Discrimination, not only on racial, but also on national, religious, gender or sex basis, unfortunately, is still very much present throughout the world.The painting “Target”, with the face of a singer Madonna, has a message that we are all victims of a consumer society, targeted to be consumable goods, just like the animals we consume. This biggest pop icon between two centuries, in the music and scene industry, also sings about Hollywood, a bit ironic. Although everyone wants to go to Hollywood, is it really the way to true happiness? The machinery, in the service of the system, perfidiously used Marilyn Monroe, intentionally placing her as a symbol of craving, in order to keep the auditorium obedient. Then, the same system simply removed her, which is shown here through her image and cake-bomb, as well as two computer windows surrounded by Hollywood stars. Both windows speak about Hollywood, the first one controls us with entertainment- “Sound, video and game controllers”, while the other one blurs the atomic bomb, ie. blurs the picture of reality.

The American band of Armenian origin, called “System of a Down”, with intense sound and texts of the songs, broadcasts politically engaged messages. Symbolic depiction of the collapse of the system, is shown in the picture through a dragon and a fire that saturates, but also purifies, radically and completely.

A video work called “Shutting down” is an illustration of a collapse of a closed system, a certain matrix, which, like any rigidly isolated system, starts after a certain time “to bug”, actually, not to function as it should. A symbolic depiction of this, in the video is a cockroach, which is joined by a bunch of relatives in a short time, which is an allusion to political systems that are corrupt, bad, and rotten from inside. As opposed to this, as the revolutionary power of the new, as something that represents the inconceivable power of devastating and creative at the same time, is presented through a dragon that flames fire, destroying the already tainted and broken system. The clear sky indicates the “new spring”, the new hope for a rising system, but we soon realize that it’s just a scam: This time, we are in a different, but equally bad matrix.

Micro-resistances to such a system, are present, visible and active throughout the planet, and as much as heterogeneous they are, all are guided by the idea that, at least, something must be said about it. Such an act of “rebellion” was supported and emphasized, by these works, as a kind of critical gesture.

Milica Stojaković

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