Surface Chipping II. — The Patch

A short reflection (the second in the series) that focuses on the dynamics of the surface in contemporary art, specifically the recent tendency to patch that, which is in no need of patching, and the specific contemporary anxiety that accompanies it.

The world is in need of healing, it is often said. From over-the-counter food supplements that help combat burnout to the anxiety-re-ridden teenagers re-actualising the subject of depression via the prominent rise of sad rappers such as XXXTentacion, in a preachy way Logic, and others (not the most exhaustive list, but burnout draws out even these very fingers doing the typing), we are hurt, hurting, and don’t know where the bottom of this pit of hurt lies.

Continue reading “Surface Chipping II. — The Patch”

Surface Chipping I.

The short reflection focuses on plaster as a materialisation of the paradox of abstraction within the formation of contemporary artistic positions.

Plaster, used both for protective and decorative purposes in walls and ceilings, meets contemporary art on the intersection of the aesthetic and pragmatic, mostly due to its soft white aesthetic characteristic and fragile kinetic effects. In this short reflection, I will take a look at two artistic practices that both use the mentioned building material in order to explore various layers of destructive, even self-destructive, principles and phenomena of contemporary society. From death drive to the autonomisation of capital, the practices brush over multiple sides of what it means to fail at being ‘human’.  

The practices at hand are namely that of Lenka’s Đorojević and Matej’s Stupica, I will focus particularly on the works ‘Neur-o-matic’ (2014) and ‘Mon-o-matic’ (2015), and that of Evelyn’s Loschy, concretely, the kinetic sculptures (2012-2016). 

Continue reading “Surface Chipping I.”

Confronting Vegetal Otherness – Art and Its Role in Inter-species Confrontations

A short analysis of performances by Špela Petrič. The article touches on the difficulties of confronting plant life, the pros and cons of figurative means of expression, and the stubborn vestiges of anthropocentrism.

In the era of ecological devastation and shifts giving rise to looming designations such as the Anthropocene, the vegetative reinstates its ascribed monstrous character, its role as the dark precursor on the illuminated pathways of our humanistic heritage. Amidst the post-modern nomos of the endless surface emerges a depth of vast magnitude, easily utilisable by the romantic enthusiasts as a possible return to the various origin-seeking endeavours and explorations of mysterious potentials of affectivity, although thereby yet again cultivating the expressive productivity of this ‘dark precursor’ by mistaking it for the sublimity of human affection.

To approach this alterity would, therefore, mean to accept its threat in full scope. Approach it without sidetracking too deep into the comforting paths of human experience. But what if our starting position for such an endeavour is that of art? What can or cannot art do for such an approach? Can art do without its inherent anthropocentric core? And what would become of art if it were reinvented in light of the conditions of these newly explored terrains?

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The Grammar of the Method

Image courtesy of Nicole Prutsch

Working with seemingly different methods of the present and past, including the ‘scientific method’ and methods of art practice, Nicole Prutsch follows their subtle commonalities that surround their otherwise disparate constitutions. She utilises the luring effects of unexpected juxtaposition, resembling the distant surrealist play with the unconscious, to create a visual genealogy of the method, the methodological and the role of the gaze in the latter. Continue reading “The Grammar of the Method”

– the cords

Andrej Škufca, Živa Božičnik Rebec, Kladnik&Neon – Next of Skin
Glass atrium of Ljubljana Town Hall

Image courtesy of Lara Žitko

Mute — not even speech as the thinkers of politicality of excluded minorities would put it, but mute uncommunicable, radically private (exempt from any possibility of equality or commensurability) — situatedness, determinable only in the context of a private sense, a sort of sensus privatus that even for Kant results only in madness.

And what is madness, for instance in the context of the psychoanalytic situation, if not putting into speech the unspeakable, the transition of an a-communicable neurotic into the communicability of analysis? The reading, the mapping, and the speaking. The path from sensus privatus to sensus communis. — Even as Kant’s certainty of common sense, the cognitive base of communality and sociality, the implicit presupposition of a naturally present and correct thought that founds its critique not only in Nietzsche but following his lead also in Deleuze, gives way to a sort of common non-sense, …

… The assertion of communality seems to persist. Which could also serve as a cynical ‘good riddance’ to the exhibition Next of skin that finds itself even more communicable at its attempt of a-communicability: in the neatly coded context of an exhibition space, an exhibition event and most importantly a conversation piece, where the snares or the obstacles (which the exhibited artworks present) fuel only the most frivolous conversational giggling of young cultural intellectuals. Continue reading “– the cords”

Aestheticisation of Moral Valuation

Exploring the notion of the artwork as a societal tool by analysing the work of Iza Pavlina and Jacques Ranciere. Setting ground for a critique of moralistic logic of sensation.

Entry point:

Critical reflection of contemporary artworks can be often found in the company of moral judgments, whose main purpose is to form a personal canon, a set of positive or negative evaluated artworks, formed not so much in accordance with the Kantian judgment of taste (nor the value of beauty that it entails), but rather with the individual’s world view, understood as a set of personal stances and/or beliefs by which one economically solves everyday political or ethical issues (preserving the energy and time that would otherwise be spent on conscious or maybe even critical valuation).

The problem with this occurrence is not so much in the fact that the described moral apparatus is in close relation with the aesthetic judgment, but more so that it is covered with an apparent a-moral valuation, to which one usually prescribes the status of being progressive.


To figure out the precise workings of this ‘loaded’ valuation and the consequences that it holds for the evaluated artworks and their creators, the artists, a case study is in order. In this regard, I would like to start with an art project of a young Slovene artist Iza Pavlina that due to its specific structure offers itself almost as a paradigmatic example. Continue reading “Aestheticisation of Moral Valuation”

Pedagogical Impossibilities

Rethinking the curatorial approach of the 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts in light of its ambition to bypass its institutional snares and give space to the “emancipated spectator”. While also addressing some of the ambivalences regarding Ranciere’s conception of emancipation and the notion of subjectivity that it implies.

Ever since the supposed occurrence of the pedagogical turn (O’Neill & Wilson, 2010) in the past decade or so, the discussion of emancipatory potential of contemporary art and its correlating institutions seems to be at a certain high. The question not only how to critically engage the audience — which has already been raised by various art practices that served as the basis for conception of relational aesthetics (Bishop, 2004) and supposedly produce the so-called microutopias (ibid., pp. 54), changing society here and now on a micro level, relieved of the pressure of a total breakage with the present in the sense of revolutionary emancipation — but also how to envision an alternative production of knowledge that would in the basic Foucauldian sense correspond to this microutopistic production of subjectivity (1) (therefore creating a form of resistance immanent to the productive mechanisms of power (2)) is ever more represented in the discourse on curating and production of contemporary art.

Its basic theoretical influences seem to be Foucault’s conception of power (which is not restrictive but rather productive, manifesting through the production of knowledge and subjectivity — see Foucault,1980, 1995, etc.) and Ranciere’s idea of an emancipated spectator (Ranciere, 2009), closely linked to his conception of the politics of aesthetics (Ranciere, 2013) and his idea of alternative production of knowledge (especially its emancipatory potential) as presented in The Ignorant Schoolmaster (Ranciere, 1991). Both represent a de-hierarchical and disseminated conception of the triad subject-knowledge-power, out of which (as already described in the context of relational aesthetics by Bishop — see Bishop, 2004, pp. 52) the majority of art projects (3) derive the idea of an artwork in flux or in other words an artwork that is “[…] open-ended, interactive and resistant to closure, often appearing to be ‘work-in-progress’ rather than a completed object” (ibid.). An artwork that functions more as a riddle or a learning tool, producing the same emancipatory effects as originally conceptualised by the two theorists, although it remains unclear if and how they actually achieve this.

The 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts, held last year in Ljubljana, is a clear example of this conception of microutopistic potentials of contemporary art, its curatorial needs, and its misunderstandings. Titled Over you / you and curated by Nicola Lees, it explored “the sociopolitical characteristics associated with graphic arts, particularly in relation to reproduction, publicity and community” (Lees, 2015, pp. 8), referring to the democratic potentials of the graphic medium in general as well as to the biennial’s own structure and history as a space — albeit heavily conditioned by specific political conditions of the former Yugoslavia (especially its role in the Non-Aligned Movement) — where ideas could be exchanged, mixed and distributed. Continue reading “Pedagogical Impossibilities”