Skopje, June 11- July 22, 2016
Translation in English: Tatjana Radomirovikj
* Excerpts from the text published integrally (with notes) in the publication,
Igor Toshevski: Between (Skopje: TP Sandinista, 2016)
BETWEEN ZERO AND DIVISION BY ZERO
Between the status quo and the permanent change. Today it seems that the key word defining our contemporaneity is crisis: political, economic, refugee, identity, cultural. At the same time, in terms of global capitalism, and its tendency for an uninterrupted flow of capital in the extended field of culture, this statement appears tautological. Capitalism is defined as a non-systemic phenomenon, a steady stream of conflicts and contradictions, and culture is seen more as a field of constant struggle for the recognition of identity. The plastered layers of problematics relating to current conditions show a need for urgent and immediate attention to acknowledged neuralgic hotspots. We are witnessing the unstoppable process of disintegration of the social sphere, amid a gridlock in post-history. The fall of the Berlin Wall, and the digital revolution, did not come close to fulfilling the idyllic promises of the supposed ‘end of history’. However, the expansion of the techno-sphere, in its non-teleological progression, increasingly inclined towards corporate interests, seems to generate a further fear of the future. In a situation where the balance between the linear, consequential logic of text and the historical consciousness, on one hand, and the magical character of the image on the other, is seriously disturbed by the technically generated image, that very fear is logically manifested as a fear of the anti-political dominance of the empowered image without a referent. This constantly reminds us that, in this sense, we have never been modern. (…)
Often in search for an unencumbered space, the artist seeks his autonomous position outside the institutional framework. It is also necessary to simultaneously re-examine the capacities for allocating new modes of establishing a critical museum whose purpose as the crucial mechanism of the ideological apparatus, would be to grasp contemporaneity, projecting a future through a dialectical relationship with the past. At a time when the reoccurrence of non-critical, manipulative meta-narratives is becoming more evident, and during the rise of radical populist nationalism and religious fanaticism when the past imposes itself as the ghost of the control mechanisms, it is necessary to re-examine our own position and potential for critical thinking, aiming towards a successful struggle for a more equal distribution of the future, against the stasis veiled in the illusion of current change.(…)
Igor Toshevski’s project titled Between is indirectly related to the acknowledged traditions of institutional critique and meta-museological inclinations amongst artists of different generations. This is in addition to the accumulated challenging issues that generate suspicion, regarding the functioning of the museum system as part of the ideological apparatus. Without following a specific, strictly defined theoretical framework in the debate about the Critical Museum, a considerable part of the genesis of this artwork can be traced in recent works by Toshevski. These relate openly or implicitly to issues concerning positions of power, censorship, the institutional frameworks and bureaucracy, the dialectical relationship between freedom and restrictions, as well as the relations between the visible and the hidden. More importantly, instead of just another occasion for a hermeneutical endeavor or contextual analysis, this project by Toshevski reveals the opportunity for a broader rethinking of the current series of problems relating to the role of art and the museum-gallery system.
BETWEEN HOMAGE AND SELF-REFERENCE AS METHODS OF PROTO-AURATIZATION
Between the prehistory of the gesture and its extended duration. In his analysis of the work by Harun Farocki and following the logic of Aby Warburg regarding the transmission of the image, Georges Didi-Huberman refers back to Farocki’s statement, “On the surface of every gesture today, appears much of its prehistory”. This prehistory can be retraced in many of Toshevski’s works as a reconfiguration and synthesis of elements, as well as a series of direct and implicit homages, which constitute the basis for creating newer works, yet constantly in the direction and interest of the issues concerning us today. This is usually not a mere summary of diverse elements, which is particularly noticeable in the re-contextualization of the Free Territories (Supremus, The Stall, etc.). Perhaps one of the most interesting examples of the amalgamation of elements from previous works and their skillful re-contextualizing is a work that is currently in the permanent exhibition of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje, a work which, despite the usage of the specific museum location, integrates the “subjective art history” as a ‘free territory’ previously established with the Supremus project, and the basic modular form in the installation Love Undefined Every Damn Moment (2012) and, although it does not candidly deal with shrouding the visible, it can be ultimately considered as part of the genesis of the project Between.
Between Love Undefined and the Damnation of the Moment. The project Between presents a modification of Toshevski’s installation Yet Another Damn Moment (2012), which is based on the installation Love Undefined, Every Damn Moment shown three months earlier as part of his solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje. During the month of June 2012, as a result of the scandalous removal of the work by the art duo OPA, Toshevski immediately and simultaneously reactivated his continuing interest in the forms of censorship, which is not surprising, considering that three years earlier, his previous work Free Territory –Yellow Cross (2009) was the subject of a specific kind of censorship, cloaked under bureaucratic pretexts.
The series of digital interventions that would attract the attention of the social networks and the printed media will announce the installation Yet Another Damn Moment, shown at the fourth group exhibition of the Kooperacija initiative, entitled Personal Politics, in June 2012 in Skopje. By re-contextualizing and exploiting a similar configuration using an industrial pallet, a fan and a black flag, this time the core of the installation constituted the symbolically shrouded works by a number of artists who agreed to be part of the installation.
During 2013 and 2014, a similar intervention was created twice by borrowing the works of other artists: at his solo exhibition Recollections, held in September 2013in Berlin, and later as a wall installation, as part of Kooperacija’s exhibition The Horses’ Legs are Too Short, at the Remont Gallery in Belgrade in November 20 In the same period, alternately referring to the original configuration, Toshevski exhibits it as a sculptural accumulation at the Essence of Existence exhibition in Zagreb in 2015, organized by the National Gallery of Macedonia. At the time, concurrently with the genesis of Between, a period that coincides with his active participation in the work of the Kooperacija initiative, Toshevski produces a few other works where there is a tendency to deliberately reduce the field of view by blurring the image, as in Sonata for C.G. (2012), and especially in This is Not a Noose (2014), a gesture that entirely operates under the radar of visibility. The act of lending space, collaboration and reciprocal relations, upon which Kooperacija’s methods were founded, was reaffirmed here. This was outlined in a ‘vacantly’ mediated action/ gesture/ intervention, which remained virtually unregistered on the medium (a billboard).The emphasis was put on “the transfer of the artist’s legitimacy or its possible anullation in the domain of the ‘visible’, by reducing it to a minimal relational gesture”.
The radical concepts of Kazimir Malevich transfer the decomposition process of objectivity and enable the transition from the aesthetics of the art work towards the aesthetics of the event, which does not necessarily in need of an object of eternal durability, nor a stationary exhibition space, so this transformative gesture is necessary to understand the relationship between tradition and the contemporary. Indeed, in several of Toshevski’s previous projects, references to Malevich’s works are noticeable, such as the specific re-contextualizing in the Free Territory, popularly known as The Yellow Cross (2009), the Supremus project (2011), The Stall (2011), and Landscape in Transition (2014). During 2011, the project Territories, beside Supremus, involved another specific sequel with the action The Stall, performed on November 11, 2011 at the market in Bitola. Employing a standard market stall and a megaphone as means of attracting attention, Toshevski offered his ‘products’, consisting of objects and paintings dedicated to Suprematism, “in exchange for food, agricultural products or a gesture”, where the artist also provided a certificate for participation within the Free Territory to anyone willing to partake in the transaction. Landscape in Transition is an installation consisting of three Free Territories based on Malevich’s forms, the cross, the circle and square, and objects of the respective forms as black MDF panels set on easels. The three shapes as objects are arranged so that each is placed in a corresponding territory without overlapping (the cross inside the square, the square in a circle, the circle inside the cross). (…)