The focus of the exhibition One Needs to Live Self-Confidently… Watching is on a critical discourse based on the thematisation of the procedures of watching, modes of spectating, and the politics of attention, within exhibition conventions and beyond.
The title of the exhibition, a quote taken from Tomislav Gotovac, in many ways summarises Gotovac’s artistic credo, but it is ubiquitous enough to include a demand to take responsibility for things seen. Responsibility for Things Seen: Tales in Negative Space, the site-specific installation by BADco., sets the spatial parameters of the exhibition, conceptualising the absence of performers, and the complex field of friction between a stage and exhibition space, while taking into account the selection and conditions of Gotovac’s presentation. On the other hand, Gotovac’s works cannot escape the conditions and procedures set by BADco.’s installation, whose main interest lies in an examination of the ‘much maligned capacity of images to capture our imagination’. BADco.’s Responsibility for Things Seen is not a reaction or intervention into Gotovac’s work, but takes ‘Gotovac’ as a problem around which it evolves, which is more than just an element of its ‘site-specificity’.
Tomislav Gotovac‘s presentation includes his key structural and experimental films, and a series of photographs from the early 1960s through to the end of the 1970s. It downplays the recuperation of his opus within the narrative of Croatian national art history and the usual clichés of the underrepresented dissident who fought for the freedom of artistic expression in the dark times of communist repression, as the story goes in the standard readings of the ‘body in socialism’. The selection of his works attempts to accentuate specific procedures whose strict discipline and analytical possessiveness often trespassed into excess and transgression, to reinforce once again the systemic organising principle that underlies them, maintaining their autonomy as the ultimate responsibility to the self-devised and perfected system whose iron logic governed Gotovac’s life and art.
BADco.’s installation Responsibility for Things Seen: Tales in Negative Space transforms the exhibition space into an analytical laboratory for the examination of the power of images, mediated responsibility, different modes and conditions of viewing and their critical and transformative possibilities. The very act of seeing becomes a subject, an obsession, a game, a problem, the same one that Gotovac attempted to solve by his ‘non-stop image’ principle, and systemic subjection of reality to the principles of film. Conceptualising the absence of performers and the complex field of friction between a stage and exhibition space, BADco.’s installation sets the spatial parameters of the exhibition. It incites performative events, showing no traces of the assumption that community is established through gestures that abolish the dividing line between spectators and actors, but trying to make sense of activities already at work in the spectator.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication, with essays by Bojana Cvejić, Florian Malzacher, Renata Salecl and Georg Schöllhammer, which is available for free download:
Antonio G. Lauer a.k.a. Tomislav Gotovac (1937–2010) was an avant-garde film director and performer. His works, combining a range of different art practices, are considered pioneering and anticipatory in the areas of conceptual art, body art, performance, and structuralist and experimental film. In 2005, he changed his name to Antonio G. Lauer.
BADco. is a Zagreb-based theatre collective. Since it was founded in 2000, it has been systematically focusing on theatrical and dance performance as a problem field—questioning the established ways of performing, representing and spectating. As part of their work BADco. is publishing a book with contributions by Petar Milat, Guiliana Bruno, Peter Szendy and Stephen Zepke.
What, How & for Whom/WHW is a Zagreb-based curatorial collective founded in 1999. WHW has been involved in a wide range of production, exhibition and publishing projects, and since 2003 has been curating the programme of the Gallery Nova, Zagreb.
Ana Martina Bakić is the exhibition’s architect, and publication and visual materials are designed by a member of the WHW collective, Dejan Kršić.
The exhibition is realised in collaboration with the Croatian Film Clubs’ Association and Zagreb Youth Theatre. It is funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, with additional support from the City Office for Culture, Education and Sports, City of Zagreb.
One Needs to Live Self-Confidently… Watching
Antonio G. Lauer a.k.a. Tomislav Gotovac and BADco.
curated by What, How and for Whom/WHW