21. – 26. 08. 2020.



The Arte­fakti (Arti­facts) pro­ject stud­ied the rela­tion­ship between per­form­ance as a tem­por­ary phe­nomen­on and doc­u­ment­a­tion as a longer-last­ing mater­i­al remin­is­cence of the artist­ic per­form­ance in the form of props, mem­or­ab­il­ia and sim­il­ar phys­ic­al remains which, after the per­form­ances at the Mira­bela com­plex, were presen­ted at the City Gal­lery. The event, which saw a large num­ber of artist­ic per­form­ances in one night, was held so that the audi­ence could see the entire pro­cess of museu­m­iz­a­tion of per­form­ances as they test­i­fied to the trans­port of works into the gal­lery con­text, observed the setup of works and wit­nessed the exhib­i­tion openings.

Although the photo-video doc­u­ment­a­tion rep­res­ents a tra­di­tion­al approach to record­ing, proof­ing and a means of recon­struct­ing artist­ic per­form­ance, we were inter­ested in explor­ing the pos­sib­il­it­ies of present­ing per­form­ance by objects that, after being used in artist­ic work, gained intrins­ic value. This ques­tions the idea of photo-video mater­i­al being the most rel­ev­ant type of doc­u­ment­a­tion. The assump­tion that such a type of doc­u­ment­a­tion is the most valu­able proof of per­form­ance is due to the ideo­logy of the pho­to­graph­ic media we mis­takenly think to be onto­lo­gic­ally con­nec­ted with real­ity, and not just as a concept of real­ity. In addi­tion to photo-video doc­u­ment­a­tion being extremely easy to manip­u­late with, some poor per­form­ance can have great visu­al doc­u­ment­a­tion, while some out­stand­ing per­form­ance can be undoc­u­mented; the neg­at­ive sides of pho­to­graph­ic doc­u­ment­a­tion become appar­ent when we con­sider the pos­sib­il­it­ies of post-festum gal­lery present­a­tion. The pos­sib­il­ity of unlim­ited mul­ti­plic­a­tion does not cor­res­pond to the nature of the per­form­ance medi­um, i.e., unique­ness as a qual­it­at­ive value, because per­form­ance is an unre­peat­able eph­em­er­al exper­i­ence. The prob­lem of its sub­sequent present­a­tion, by mul­ti­me­dia doc­u­ment­a­tion or re-enchant­ment, is very com­plex and ulti­mately untrue. Also, although per­form­ance can never be denied its tran­si­ence (as its qual­it­at­ive value) in order for the per­form­ance to become com­mod­it­ized, the objects used in the work itself, as an aid to the artist in that space and in that time, rep­res­ent some­thing much more sig­ni­fic­ant than mere remind­ers, rep­licas or memor­ies, because a part of the per­form­ance value is retained by a phys­ic­al object in the form of its proven­ance. In this way, the per­form­ance gets anoth­er life with­in new art­work — arti­facts in a museum sense that, in the form of install­a­tion, rep­res­ent a new ver­sion or form of the same work.

Gildo Bavčević used the gal­lery to exhib­it a globe made of coins, under which he placed a plate­ful of coins that he had pre­vi­ously vomited in front of the audi­ence at the per­form­ance at Mira­bela. The artist’s per­form­ance began with a hys­ter­ic­al cough as a form­al­ized cri­ti­cism of the mon­et­ary sys­tem, which makes the con­tem­por­ary world go around. By vomit­ing his sav­ings, pla­cing his pref­er­ences out­side the dis­tri­bu­tion net­work of eco­nom­ic policies, the artist pub­licly expresses his dis­gust towards a mater­i­al­ist soci­ety that is obsessed with earn­ing and spend­ing alone. By examin­ing the eco­nom­ic situ­ation and the state logic of “sav­ings meas­ures”, where the only ‘savers’ are the poor that are left behind by bank­ing lob­bies, while huge amounts of money go into the hands of minor­it­ies that don’t even think of coins as real money. Coins or change thus become the sym­bol of the small man, and with their col­la­ging into con­tin­ents and oceans, and with their applic­a­tion to the globe, the artist opens up many eco­nom­ic, polit­ic­al and social connotations.

Milan Brkić exhib­its match­boxes that he gave to the vis­it­ors of the Mira­bela event. The boxes fea­tured pic­tures of anim­als with the mes­sage “Love Without Knife”. Namely, a few days before the event, an unknown author pos­ted a let­ter on the main street of the city, in which he expressed fear that as part of the fest­iv­al at Mira­bela, an artist would kill a dog, roast it and offer it as food to the pub­lic. This let­ter paradig­mat­ic­ally sees the fear of the milieu towards pro­voc­at­ive art forms that ques­tion social taboos, and this accus­a­tion (that had noth­ing to do with real­ity) offered Brkić a pos­sib­il­ity to use the momentum and social ten­sion to high­light mes­sages of non­vi­ol­ence towards animals.

Ivan Bura car­ried a heavy stone con­tain­er on his back up to the entrance to Mira­bela, and he refused to insti­tu­tion­al­ize the arti­fact. It was a “kamen­ica” – an oil ves­sel car­ry­ing a Glagolit­ic print: “If shipyards leave us, Greece will come to us”, refer­ring to the fin­an­cial crisis in Greece. The artist, using the Old Slavic script, places the kamen­ica in the his­tor­ic­al cor­pus of Croa­tian art, while the text itself is a warn­ing from our ancest­ors who have fore­seen the con­di­tion in which their des­cend­ants would live. The bowl of olive oil is a sym­bol of har­mony and peace, as well as of the Medi­ter­ranean tra­di­tion and doc­trines which place artists and cit­izens at the mar­gins of soci­ety in crisis times.

Božid­ar Katić presen­ted a broken bulb in the gal­lery, which he pre­vi­ously des­troyed using a ham­mer in a per­form­ance on the highest floor of Mira­bela. Wear­ing a clas­sic busi­ness suit, typ­ic­al for the ego­ist­ic and sad­ist­ic cari­ca­tures of the soci­ety, the artist took the audi­ence through nar­row and steep stairs to the very top of the fort, where the vis­ibly phys­ic­ally exhausted audi­ence awaited artist­ic per­form­ance. After all the audi­ence gathered in a small room that was lit only by one bulb, Katić turned to the audi­ence and finally made dir­ect con­tact with people, but instead of the expec­ted speech, the artist breaks down the bulb with a ham­mer, leav­ing the audi­ence in com­plete dark­ness. The obscure situ­ation and the unor­gan­ized mass are a basis for staged manip­u­la­tion and the bias of media recep­tion that car­ries out mass amne­sia and the exploit­a­tion of those who trust them blindly.

Željko Marović exhib­its an arti­fact that was removed from the nat­ur­al envir­on­ment of his own home and re-con­tex­tu­al­ized with the ready-made strategy. It is his son’s child’s toy, put in a large plastic bowl filled with water. The hippo fig­ure seemed to be try­ing to main­tain the state of equi­lib­ri­um with the envir­on­ment. The arti­fact is undoubtedly filled with an intim­ate mean­ing, but also archetyp­al, as it rep­res­ents care­less­ness and ten­der­ness, intro­vert­ing the observ­er who finds sim­il­ar objects in their own fundus of ref­er­ences to child­hood and thus becomes a co-cre­at­or in the pro­cess of intim­a­tion. The plastic toy floats in the water trough on a stand made of split fire­wood. In a time when people are dous­ing their emo­tion­al world, by emphas­iz­ing the import­ance of inter­per­son­al rela­tion­ships, this gentle work cre­ates a step that emo­tion­ally sat­is­fies the indi­vidu­al with a pleas­ant inter­ac­tion and asso­ci­ations between objects, diving into their essence.

Marin Baučić and Ivan Svaguša pro­duced a sound record­ing and a large-format pic­ture ori­gin­at­ing from Mira­bela, with Baučić paint­ing what Svaguša played on an elec­tric gui­tar, while Svaguša played what Baučić painted. The res­ult was an abstract expres­sion­ist paint­ing and a recor­ded music­al pro­cess, which was a type of syn­es­thet­ic trans-medi­al loop that eats its own tail like the snake Ouroboros.

Vanja Pagar offered bread coated with but­ter and covered with sugar to the audi­ence, which is a kind of warn­ing to the ever-threat­en­ing break­down of west­ern civil­iz­a­tion, because the artist believes that this dish might soon become the only candy we will have. In the gal­lery, the sand­wich was exposed without a pro­tect­ive glass, left to the effects of time.

Ivan Perić pre­pared pep­pers stuffed with elec­tron­ic parts, which he con­sumed dur­ing his per­form­ance at Mira­bela. The rest of the dish was exhib­ited in the gal­lery as an elec­tron­ic waste arti­fact on the plate, which became a sculp­ture in the full sense by mov­ing from artist­ic per­form­ance and raised to the gal­lery ped­es­tal. The artist, in a simple and witty way, ques­tions bioeth­ic­al issues caused by the inev­it­able genet­ic manip­u­la­tion of food products, car­ci­no­gen­ic pesti­cides and toxic fer­til­izers, endan­ger­ing our own homeostasis.

Milan Stan­ić shared papers with a mes­sage in Braille’s on Mira­bela, which have remained unknown. The mes­sage was dis­played in the gal­lery, without explan­a­tion or inter­pret­a­tions. The artist thus points to the fre­quent her­met­icity of socially engaged con­tem­por­ary art and the futil­ity of such exhib­i­tion pro­jects for the wider community.

Boris Šitum presen­ted the audi­ence with saints’ images, where instead of pray­ers, a local pat­ri­ot­ic song was writ­ten (Na omiškoj stini / On the Stone of Omiš). Instead of the pic­tures of saints, there was a photo of a Home­land war vet­er­an’s hand, miss­ing the index fin­ger, rais­ing two fin­gers to cre­ate the let­ter V (peace/victory sign). This ges­ture of solid­ar­ity and res­ist­ance – that became known as the sym­bol of vic­tory after Win­ston Churchill used it dur­ing World War II – was used by Croa­tian Home­land war volun­teers, but in the con­text of the lack­ing fin­ger, it becomes the “fuck you” ges­ture, because the only vis­ible fin­ger is the middle one. In a pain­fully witty way, the work faces the con­tem­por­ary Croa­tian soci­ety and the con­sequences of trans­ition. The artist decided not to give the last pic­ture away, but to exhib­it it on the wall of the gal­lery, next to the lyr­ics of the song of Omiš.