The project was initiated by the invitation coming from the director of The 50th International Art Exhibition Mr. Francesco Bonami to the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, proposing a group project to be presented within frames of this year's Biennale di Venezia. According to Mr. Bonami the goal of the whole project (a collaboration of the Biennale di Venezia and IUAV di Venezia cared for by Mrs. Angela Vattese) is to provide a glance at the educational and creative process, which is the foundation for every future artist.
The key points
for the project from the invitation for the Venice exhibition are as follows:
- it is a group project,
- the end result should be "a site specific work",
- the process-like nature of the work should be emphasized,
- it should relate to the main theme of the Biennale, "Dreams and Conflicts: the viewer's dictatorship".
A project group was formed that could, with its particular organisation and division of roles, enable a creative process relating to the meeting point of the above-mentioned guidelines. Because the project should be linked with concrete reality (site specific), and because this reality is not explicitly determined, we can take any concrete reality. At the same time the aim of the exhibition is to present different academies and therefore we found it relevant to take as a concrete reality our academy, where we work. There are many reasons for this choice.
Each school entails, if not an explicit doctrine, at least a specific atmosphere founded in self-evident presuppositions, which strongly influence the students' notions about what the art is and configure also their projections about the artistic activity after their study at the academy as they become artists. The self-evidence that is based in the organisation of the school is the concrete reality, according to which the student works are "site specific".
Our goal is not to conduct a sociological research. Instead, it is much more modest. We believe that the organization of the working process that is different from the usual work at the academy, can establish a distance that would, in relation to the usual, function as a reflection. Because the study at the academy is organised in separate study programmes, it seemed reasonable to connect these separate entities for the objectives of this project in a specific way. Three sculptors and three painters will prepare a group project through teamwork and dialogue. Three students of video and new media will critically follow the dialog between the sculptors and painters and elaborate their contributing part on the basis of the first group's work. The media students will occupy the position of the internal viewer, whose product will be the primary commentary of the first group's work. Thus organized work of the groups establishes the relationship between the three disciplines of artistic study at our academy, and is, irrespective of what the theme of the first group will be, a micro representative of the organization of the academy with the additional implementation of the process of communication between them. The result will be the process of communication, of reciprocal references that will be established for the perspective of the external spectator through the commentaries that will be an integral part of the project as a whole.
Second group - department of video and new media
Narvika Bovcon, Gašper Jemec, Aleš Vaupotič
Concept:Politics of the Internal Observer
In the role of "the internal observers" the three students of video and new media establish a secondary level of artistic creativity, the transformative creativity. But, what is more important is the specific meaning of the somehow vague notion of an always already constructed visitor of the exhibition - the one that is always already there, even before the actual (paying) viewer. The function of our part of the project is actually very clear: we have to manipulate the visitor's reception of our artistic statement, the group exhibition. We could say that we strive to outrun the spectator's interpretation and to set limits to his understanding of our work, whereby the work respectively gains more self-awareness. We intrude on the functioning of the art as an institution and at the same time we sharpen the edge of the artistic statement that is always an act - of course a political act, not so much caught in everyday politics but in much more complex, it doesn't mean less brutal, politics of art.
Thus the media artists are set in between the painters' and sculptors' projects and the viewer's reception of the artworks. The internal view is established on two levels: on the level of the spectator's interactive entering via Internet and on the level of relationships between the projects in virtual space.
In the first case, our reasoning follows the necessity of the spectator for any art exhibition, since the existence of any art object is situated in the spectator. The relation artist - artifact - spectator goes in all directions and this already implies the internal view for any exhibition. However, we want to elaborate the internal view more radically right at the point of determining the spectator, which means determining the spectator's entering and her/his existence inside the exhibition set. The spectator enters the gallery first by his physical presence in the gallery room, and second by being projected (onto a gallery wall) in the crowd of the so-called "visitors". The visitors are carefully selected individuals, who are privileged to be the chosen spectators of the exhibition. None of the actual spectators physically present in the gallery is selected for the privileged crowd. Only the visitors that enter the exhibition via Internet have the possibility to be chosen. However, none of the Internet spectators, who actually apply to enter the crowd, is actually admitted to it, although they receive the kind invitation and the entry form on the interface site. The interface rejects all of them by declaring that they do not satisfy the criteria for admittance. Instead, the interface offers the Internet spectator a "free tour" of the exhibition, to which the spectator agrees for the price of being disqualified and discriminated. The institution of art denies his presence and contribution to the exhibition. Although such total rejection of the spectator seems radical, it actually takes place every time an exhibition is set and especially in the case of interactive access, since every entering is submitted to the rules of entrance set by the art institution valid at that particular time and in that particular social constellation.
The second level of the internal view is situated in the relationships between the individual artists, i.e. their works. Every individual artist is only a nod in the network of the exhibition statements, which means that her/his work is mediated through the network of a secondary statement (Bakhtin), emanating from the relationships with other artworks and the exhibition as a whole. The topography of the network of statements is inscribed into spatial relations between artworks, and this suggests the transfer of the relationships into a three-dimensional virtual space (a projection onto a gallery wall). In the virtual space the meaning is inscribed into the spatial relations between the artworks and, as well, into the landscape of the virtual space, which in turn modifies the relationships between artworks once more. The mapping of the relationships in the gallery room is different from the mapping of the relationships between the same artworks in the virtual space, this deviation being regulated again by the internal observers. On the other hand, what we actually try to achieve is the contamination of the real space (the gallery space) by means of the projection of a three-dimensional virtual reality.
The guidelines for construction of the "dictated" forms of spectator's perspective are derived largely from the Michel Foucault's theory of the archaeology of knowledge. The relationships between the artists in our exhibition are fundamentally territorial, spatial relations. Our aim is to create a map, of course not a map relating to geographic Venice, but the map of our entering into the Venice Biennale. The internal spectator as such is actually a map of the territory of contemporary art. It is a territory that excludes temporal distances - the travelling through layers of our exhibition will be a conceptual travelling traversing the ideological distances which all exist at once, in a frozen moment in time.
But there is also the other aspect of this foucauldian theme - the field of Foucault's theory is the field of power-knowledge. Therefore it is not surprising that the relations within our group sooner or later turned into the power relations. From the initial single group we became two separate conflicting groups: on one hand we, video and media students, and on the other the painters and sculptors. We couldn't agree on many fundamental issues: whether we shall make one single project or a territory of projects in a dialogue, whether our project shall be a single "art in process" or a multiplicity of processes (each with its own temporality, if we turn to Foucault once again); we couldn't agree even concerning the trajectories in the gallery being a labyrinth or a foucauldian archive.
The general purpose of our part of the project is to establish our group exhibition as a discursive field, a territory with its own topography. As we have experienced, this could not be a peaceful complacent landscape of idyllic Arcadia with individuals developing their own artistic potentials, but a battlefield of fierce conflicts between individuals and institutions (in our case, departments within the university). It is not a stabile map of structural relations, but instead it is an ongoing debate that radically transforms itself merely by going on. Nevertheless, we have to be very careful not to destroy other contributing voices (the "other" group) - not that we wouldn't whish to -, because in that case we would lose the positivity (Foucault) of the discursive field. We have to maintain the otherness of the nine contributing artists, since it's the only material that the "meta-artist", such as video- or media-artist, has to work with. If we would simply reject the point of view of our colleagues (and also differences of opinion within our group), we would regress to the unifying theme of the autonomous artistic subjectivity that in the last consequence destroys everything particular in the world. Our concept of the internal observer strives to maintain the positivity of what Husserl called Lebenswelt, while at the same time it opens the field of struggle - let's face it: contemporary politics of art is not a very nice phenomenon.
(See also attachments: two conceptual diagrams. 1 2)
First group - departments of painting and sculpture
Marko Batista, Andrej Kamnik, Vasja Lebarič (painters),
Martina Bastarda, Mateja Ocepek, Nataša Skušek (sculptresses)
"Dreams and conflicts" has at the first step suggested us to draw a common point for both terms, from which we would try to show the relations between "Dreams" and "Conflicts". This point was the "interpretation".
If we suppose that the truth does not exist, then we can grasp the truth only as a construct. If we have two opposing or dialectic poles, then the strongest pole always constructs the legitimate truth, which is the point of power. This is also the pole that dictates what is "history" or "the right interpretation" or "the right Truth". The Truth would be something like a neutral point, the point of total consensus, for which we know that it cannot exist.
The power of interpretation: Even something that is obviously taken as unacceptable can through "right" interpretation become totally acceptable. Uncritical acceptance of the information, that we believe to be true "without having a reason", without reflection or consideration, and we take it even for hard fact, is exactly the consequence of the manipulation from the part of the strongest one. The "self-evident" is a product of uncritical and non-reflected thought from the part of society and an individual.
If "Dreams" are understood as any personal thinking (systems of thought, dreams, persuasions, opinions, beliefs, interpretations ), then this thinking is a hybrid of two poles or a construct of truth. Each of us believes in something or interprets it in a way for which there are no actual grounds; moreover, each of us takes something for granted or self-evident. Exactly this belief or the non-reflected interpretation of a phenomenon is the point of our interest.
Every opposition of thought or interpretation to another thought or interpretation causes a conflict, a dynamic flow between the two poles. Our method is not to oppose the viewer's thought or to suggest "another truth", but to trigger questions in the viewer's mind. To provoke the viewer by means of artistic statement to establish a dilemma about something that seemed obvious before. Why is a certain (our) interpretation the way it is?! We want to trigger dilemmas in different fields: from personal dilemmas about human's intimate feelings to the dilemmas that are tied to a broader social context: of politics, art, religion, tradition, gender questions, ethics, moral
We decided to work in a team where the principals of group communication and teamwork are of main importance, and not so much the comparison of individual autopoetics. Therefore the work is organised as a work in process, where works develop and transform in time. Finally, we would whish that the exhibition although constructed from many smaller art pieces should speak about our key concept, the reconsideration of the self-evident.
This will be achieved
by means of the view that is guided (principle of labyrinth) where the viewer
has some autonomy in reading the constellation of exhibited works, however this
autonomy is not totally incidental. At this point the group of "the internal
viewers" (the media artists) will help us to establish the first reflection
of our work in the role of the first external viewer, "a new and supplementary