|fifth year: 2001/2002||series of lectures: lectures / conversations with lecturers / lecturers|
The world of communication consists of slogans with a special purpose. Even this text of mine is merely an endless slogan. Aside from the question how to persuade other people, it might be currently more important to question how do other people try to persuade us. Every day other people decide what can be presented in the news, and we are in charge of separating truths form untruths, fact from fiction. Formerly, the most urgent world-wide social slogans appealed to freedom, today they appeal to security. Security means certainty, but not necessary freedom. An important factor of universal security (i.e. certainty) should be freedom. This is why my work predominantly deals with the issue of the freedom of information.
I understand as every word dispatched to the audience, is devised to provoke
a response without any thought. I call these reflex responses ready-made
answers, because they emerge from automatism, not only under the influence
of the community in which we live, but also under the influence of every
picture, message or word we have ever encountered.
The Exhibition of Local Issues
The broader title
of my project 'Exhibition of Local Newspapers' consists of two parts:
the author's newspaper and the intervention within an existing newspaper
in a town or country. Both parts set up exhibitions that deal with local
I have divided the
topics that I deal with within the author's newspaper into a number of
The context and the time in which they appear are inseparable from my works. However, my understanding of the local context does not have to be the same as the geographical notion of the local. All of the recent world decisions that have a global character are in their basis still local. This sounds fabulous until we realise that the unique common problems that are shared by all of us are not approached globally. Some of the world problems are more global then others: global warming, corporate fascism, planned and selective genetic technology terrorism are of a lesser danger and can wait in comparison, for example, to the problem of political terrorism. This means that in order to enjoy the opportunity of ranking 'global' problems according to their importance and to act locally with a broader impact, you should be as close as possible to the centre of power. The closer you are to the centre of power the greater chance you have to present your local problem (ideology) as a global one to the rest of the world. In this sense, the state political issues always have priority over the civilian political ones. National security always has the priority over civil security and so on.
All existing societies are societies of information and misinformation. Misinformation is not an abstract notion of the public, for it starts between you and me - here and now. It is possible for anyone to be a source of information and every piece of information is already an interpretation in itself. Therefore the truth is an interpretation. We can go to extremes and say that today nobody is the author of his or her words, because all words have already been used somewhere before. Examined through the indisputable impact of the media, the hackneyed phrase 'Does the media create time or does time create the media?' remains equally intriguing. The quantity of information nurtures us with the illusion that we have never been closer to the truth. We were never closer, yet we were never so slow. It seams that we have an approach to everything, and yet we can control nothing. The media is interested only in what can be put through to mass hysteria. It the event that there are no news, they have to be produced.
Have you noticed the following with newspapers: the thinner they get, the bigger the headlines. The football game on Sunday could be funny, but if our happiness depends on the way 'our' favourite team played, then we are faced with a serious local problem. Beside for profits, the media constantly works in order to promote idolatry, i.e. infatuation with stars and heroes. They try their best to do this even in an environment where there is a ridiculously small amount of consumers that would be interested in the state of the healthy show business. In the past, was the world a better place to live in? The answer is 'no'. The only difference is that today everything is transmitted through the various forms of media. Today, the news represents a constant search for the superficial excess. Communication has transformed into a hard industry, a guaranteed profit, i.e. something that used to be the domain of black metallurgy (at the end of the 19th Century), or the car industry (at the beginning of the 20th Century).
In their works artists are expected to deal with their local problems. However, as I have previously stated, the local problems (even when they are named local) are no longer even close to being local. One of the obvious local problems to which I would like to draw attention is the example of suppressing the individual initiative. This is not led merely by local nationalists as one would expect in small countries, but also by world corporations who merely have to state their desire for something to come true. They conduct it through the annulment of the consensus, the pollution of the perception and finally through corporate terrorism. The so-called transitional phase in the country in which I live is a perfect ground for experiments. Here, misinformation plays the main role. If you give the citizens a choice of ideas you give them a choice of politics. Regardless of the fact how decentralised the media is (linear: radio, press, television; or with the advantage of hypertext: the Internet), from a political point of view it will always have its old, famous, dangerous significance, i.e. 'one addressing the masses'.
I deal with
the printed media in order to generate a suspicion, a discussion with
the public, i.e. to remind them that everybody could be his or her own
editor and publisher.
Race, Class, Sexuality
Since 1994 I have exhibited piles consisting of thousands of daily and
weekly newspapers in different contexts. I have introduced various parallel
readings and meanings, in which the starting point of all local problems
is set by the issue of race, class and sexuality. The newspapers can show
its affinities to illustration, drawing, photography or text. This is
always performed in the form of a concentrated comment, because we live
in a period when 'Everything has to be short and entertaining'. In its
basis the newspaper is an attitude towards a chosen theme (the issue of
local and global, private and public, information and misinformation,
urban neurosis and utopia
). Mostly this is an issue of the two poles.
The themes I deal with discuss the everyday life. Therefore, I find it
important to expose the newspapers to a broader audience, to place them
outside of the foreseeable, elitist, and often limited cultural spaces.
Most newspapers are printed in between 2 000 and 10 000 copies. Sometimes
I make the supplements for an existing newspaper. In 1996 the Austrian
Kleine Zeitung published the supplement 'Paradise' (marking the Austrian
triennial on photography) in 230 000 copies and within the organisation
of the Museum in Progress the Austrian Der Standard published the supplement
'Frenetic' in the year 2000.
In the work entitled 'Indoctrination', in which the public completed the started work (2000-2002: Zagreb, Belgrade, Moscow, Skopje), I have performed an inversion of the conventional contribution by the public. Indoctrination is a workshop without a leader. It consists of various remnants and a few of my initial messages that can be found hanging on the wall. It is left to the expressive freedom of the public and is free of any censorship. It is the public that articulates the work. By using the cutting and gluing technique; i.e. the same technique as is popularly believed to be used for anonymous threatening letters it leaves political, poetical or ironical traces and remarks - depending on the context. In short, the wall is used so the visitors can leave unsigned thoughts that can not be openly expressed in public. My relationship with the public is co-operative; i.e. the public is the one that does the work. Indoctrination is a product of a period in which one searches for the missing words. My personal reason for the entire indoctrination situation was the diplomatic saying 'Words must be arranged in a way so they do not hurt anybody.' This is a saying that is often repeated within my works.
My public interventions and newspaper publishing are both founded in the confrontation of opinions and an active dialogue. I call the works based on the collaboration with the public, i.e. works in which the process does not necessarily end with the product - Community Art. As an idea Community Art originates from the time I collaborated with Aleksandar Battista Ili. Our collaboration was based on our common recognition of art as a dialogue. A dialogue, or rather collaboration reminds us that in truth, the public is the one who produces the meaning of an artefact. Community Art is also the title of a broader public project, which is in fact a permanent collaboration with experts from various interest spheres, all of whom are connected to socially engaged art.
The message 'Do not believe everything you see or hear' is eternal. People
like to come up with notions and constructions. I have always been interested
in systems: regardless of whether they are natural or artificial. Systems
of value, the probability system, the power system, etc. While the centres
of power are always dealing with the same strategies of regulated exploitation
within all fields, it is evident that the events are repeating themselves,
only the dates and the names of people and places change.
Obsessions and Frustrations
All my life I have been taught to be afraid of something, it does not
really matter what, as long as I am afraid. This insight is entangled
with the unpleasant feeling of constant limitation and control of my personal
freedom. The intention of my work (in which I deal with obsessions and
frustrations) is to stimulate the participants to recognise certain fragments
of their identity. Hyper-information has created a psychosis that is manifested
in the constant search of identity. By exposing my obsessions I also discuss
the obsessions, fears and frustrations of other people, because these
chronic conditions are contagious in urban surroundings. If I once again
refer to my text Local-Global from 1996, art is nothing else but a planetary
dimension with global consequences, or to be more precise the sum of all
local frustrations. The inflation is present in all spheres of life.
I summarise addictions (regardless whether they are mine or somebody else's),
onto the bare facts: I summarise the behaviour onto the common denominators.
I call the bottle with the universal medication for achieving a permanent
condition of euphoria and meditation, a collective identity and loyalty
to the projection of the future somewhere between hysteria and utopia, Stimulant
and Relaxant. Today, stress is an essential feature of status and success.
A number of people suffer from the fear that they are not sufficiently stressed.
The rule is simple: If you are in demand, then you must be successful, thus
anyone who is not under stress must be a loser. Most urban people worry
about having nothing to worry about, and if you are not busy, you are not
interesting. Thus, stress could also be a matter of prestige. Besides being
under constant stress it is also desirable to possess weaknesses. The weakness
is a sign that the indoctrination and manipulation were effective.
On Words and Images
Language, images, messages or the illusion of the absence of the message
are all things that we obtain from the outside world. I translate newspapers
into as many languages as possible, just so they would become local. I
often repeat messages if I can find a reason for this. The message: 'Everything
has to be short and entertaining' has emerged from the slogans 'Boredom
is luxury' and 'Future is luxury'. In my work I often adopt tautologies
as a form of communication, because I consider that this is today the
only way one can become noticed. Most commonly I publish my newspapers
in Croatian, German, French, Spanish, as well as in English, for I understand
English as a sort of Esperanto, which is not strictly bound to the official
version of the language. Instead, I perceive it as a language that is
constantly under development. While I am already speaking about slogans,
I would like to emphasise that (just like anybody else with a desire to
communicate) I often lean on the local rules of communication. My newspaper
has one general message: 'If you do not like the news go out and make
your own'. Anybody who is afraid to speak what is on his or her mind can
relax and adopt the slogan of the silent majority: 'Luckily, there are
rules of good behaviour'.
Information is Interpretation
In the work Polluted Water from 1998 I discussed the freedom of interpretation. The work consisted of 50 barrels filled with water. Each barrel contained one newspaper (domestic or international) that was freely floating in the water. As the show lasted for one month, the newspaper started to disintegrate, the water almost evaporated and what was left over looked like a dirty, stinking pool. The work provoked protests, especially from journalists. After they found their own articles in the newspapers, they started to look around for a political message in a general political environment of increased paranoia.
Value and Waste
Anyone who deals with quality and value inevitable faces the extreme, i.e. the question of waste. In the contemporary world the quantity and quality of waste is a proof of the level of civilisation. While the impossibility of choice in the consumer materialistic world creates poverty, and abundance creates wealth, waste indicates the level of wealth of prejudices, or maybe to be more precise 'progress'. I often say that my newspapers are my personal contribution to the civilisation of waste. The good thing about newspapers is that in comparison to other waste, they can eventually be recycled. Because the disclosure of social values is painful, waste is a political issue. We do not all have the same idea of values. The values of one man can be the waste of another. The value of a war hero in one nation presents a war criminal for another nation. It is said that information is the greatest capital, however, in the case of the newspaper, what was yesterday considered to be information is today's waste.
In 1991, when I completed my studies, one of my lecturers (a painter)
watched my video works that dealt with the relation of the individual
and information and then asked me: And where is the poetry in all this?
This question might belong to the 19th Century, but then again it might
not. If one equates poetry with nature he will notice that the things
we regard as 'natural' (even if it is actually about 'nature') are always
modified by various forms of human interests, i.e. institutional, ideological,
military, governmental or corporate.
When I talk about nature I often emphasise that it is governed by the
law of the streets.