24.11.2017. - 16.12.2017.

Lovepiece

Nina Bajrić Blažeković, Ana Belošević, Petra Brnardić, Danko Friščić, Davor Mezak, Marijan Molnar, Jelena Remetin, Damir Sokić, Marijana Stanić, Ana Šerić & Ivana Vadla, Ivan Tudek, Vlatko Vincek
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Curator: Ana Belošević

Is it even possible to define love? How can we define an emotional action so susceptible to subjective evaluation? Be it physical, romantic, spiritual, manic, pragmatic, platonic, ideal....there is this constant need to understand and explain it (to explain it in order to understand it). It is an art & craft because it demands discipline, concentration, patience, faith (Erich Fromm), but above all, as art itself, it demands freedom and courage to be our true selves, the courage to expose our private lives to an individual/viewer/observer and lay bare our insecurity to a critical mass.

Art and humanity has always had, and always will have, one true eternal muse – love. ...(“He who approaches the temple of the Muses without inspiration, in the belief that craftsmanship alone suffices, will remain a bungler and his presumptuous poetry will be obscured by the songs of the maniacs,“ Plato). From Rodin's to Magritte's kiss, from Chagall's Bella to Koons' Cicciolina, Tracey Emin's tent and Jenny Holzer's sign (Love Is What You Want, Protect me from what I want ) to Marina Abramović's walk along the Great Wall of China, to Bizet's Carmen or Joy Division (Love will tear us apart), it (love / relationship) remains a mystery, unpredictable and risky as birth itself, as some damned energy which drives and destroys, always omnipresent and elusive, at the same time here and there, eerily frightening and outrageously appealing, never simple. Eros and Thanatos, locked in eternal battle.

Unbound by logic or reason, we become slaves to its immense power (“love is not freedom, it’s slavery by definition”, Tin Ujević). Uncertainty, fear, despair, obsession, need for control, letting go, optimism, masochism, euphoria, anticipation…we are all enmeshed with this fine embroidery of (smaller or greater) pathologies which we bring into our interpersonal relationships. It is through this permeable border of ambivalence that the featured artists question relationships and the limit to which two people, two identities, can be connected. Through various media, they try to glimpse at the answer to the universal question – what is love? (Ana Belošević)

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What is love? To this seemingly simple but, in reality, the most complex question possible, there are a myriad of relatively acceptable and coherent answers offered – directly or indirectly – by mostly philosophers, sociologists, theologians, anthropologists, pedagogists and, of course, artists across disciplines, media and poetics. However, it is in this myriad of answers where the essential problem lies. They all, without exception, point to one indisputable fact: that none of them manage to penetrate into the sphere of the absolute; they are exhausted by partially or extremely general, and therefore essentially unproductive, definitions. It is possible to speak about love as such – invoking Plato – exclusively via an abstract, idealized idea. Any attempt at grasping the specificities will always entail some real-life context which is glaringly mutable and always conditioned or provoked by something. With their emphasized concreteness, the real contexts are ostensibly incompatible with the universal notion of love, which, due to its eminence and, therefore, its elusiveness, is all but a part of real life. Unfortunately, it is how it is. However, we can talk more specifically about the various consequences which arise from the multifaceted effects of love wielded on the imperfect human psyche. Of course, there are a lot of consequences, one would even say too many of them, but they – in comparison with love viewed via its idealized manifestations – are vastly easier to analyse separately and connect to certain real and specific contexts. In other words, the concreteness by no means dilutes the meaning or quintessence of various consequences of love, whatever they might be. On the contrary, they are generally strengthened by it, contributing to their credibility, that is, to their appeal.

The exhibition Lovepiece, featuring works by Croatian visual artists working in various media, is thus primarily focused on questioning and analysing some of the possible consequences or outcomes of love. The idea of love, in the aforementioned exhibition, is discretely and indirectly present; it is as though it floats above it, never directly descending amidst the exhibits. The consequences of genuine love also encompass past and lost love, as well as unrequited love, which – in worst case scenario – might lead to the antithesis of love, to the not at all sublime and, unfortunately, almost always materialized hatred. Luckily, however, hatred is not the only possible outcome. There is also sadness, pain, depression, rage....the last of which, as Peter Sloterdijk lucidly notes, would become the first word of European literary culture due to Homer's Iliad. It is unnecessary to emphasize that the rage of Achilles originates from his love for Briseis who was seized by Agamemnon, in the context of the Trojan war, also initiated by love, Paris's love for Helen, at Menelaus's expense. All these “loves” by no means represent the quintessential notion of love; they are its deeply flawed consequences, Dionysian in kind. They could be called lusts or greed (sexual), with vanity or jealousy also playing a large part. This, however, does not exhaust the possible consequences of love, which can be infinitely enumerated: happiness, sadness, desire, longing, ecstasy, depression, melancholy, disappointment, addiction, egoism, altruism, sacrifice, receiving, giving, blindness…A lot of these concepts, as already mentioned, are examined and analysed by the featured artists in the exhibition Lovepiece.

Marijan Molnar, in his performance and photographs in which he kisses Marx’s key work Capital, he ritualizes the relationship to one ideology in a self-aware, critical and almost religious manner, thereby attempting to issue a warning on how love and humanity should always trump all ideological dogmas. Objects with the accompanying texts – fictional letters – exhibited by Damir Sokić, are, above all, striking expressions of desire and sadness of high literary value, with these emotions materialized in a wondrously transcendental way. Ana Belošević used a simple statistical chart via which she presented a realistic-ironic course of a love affair in the span of one year, with all its ups and downs. Ivan Tudek’s painting and unconventionally mounted drawings, in an unpretentious but visually precise and self-aware manner, refer to the phenomena of transience and unfulfillment. Nina Bajrić Blažeković combines classical figurative painting with object-books filled with cryptograms, relaying that love consists of a series of encrypted messages and that nothing is as it appears at first glance. Via their installation, Ana Šerić and Ivana Vadla approach a love affair – based on their own experiences – as, at times, a bizarre and cruel game of chance, where someone is always destined to feel redundant. As a sort of an escape out of this carrousel, they offer Pero Kvesić’s booklet Stjecaj okolnosti [Confluence of Circumstances]. Jelena Remetin’s deeply personal sound installation, in which sound and photography create an emotionally charged narrative complex, is soul-stirring in its confessional straightforwardness. Danko Friščić exhibits a complex multimedia installation with amorous reverberations imbued with travesty, theatrics and, above all, self-irony. Davor Mezak’s multimedia work also contains a certain amount of self-irony, or a demystification of a love act and everything that it entails, while via the New Family Act, this author extends his work into the sphere of social engagement and current topical relevance. In an effective and ironic way, Vlatko Vincek refers to the fetish iconography of corporeal love, exploited by lust, that is, by the business of eroticism. In his other video work, he combines Thomas Aquinas’ philosophical deliberations on happiness with an ordinary slug, warning us that a text should be read slowly and carefully, the same as we should be patient and consistent in happiness or love. Petra Brnardić refers directly to erotic lust, without shrinking away from excruciating and unpleasant elements like sadomasochism, obsession or pathology. And finally, one living statue. Marijana Stanić, with the help of a performance artist, questions in a way the wedding ritual, the moment when love and kitsch go hand in hand towards an (un)happy and (un)predictable future…

In the end, we might ask ourselves who was right, Marquise de Sade or Leopold von Sacher-Masoch? Definitely both of them, depending on which side the coin lands. Let’s rather finish on a lighter note and ask: Joy Division and Love Will Tear Us Apart or The Beatles and All You Need is Love? It’s all a matter of taste. (Vanja Babić)

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Founds for the exhibition were provided by The City of Velika Gorica and Zagreb County.

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We would also like to thank to Gavella Theater from Zagreb for help in organizing of the exhibition.