History of Art

Era Milivojević
August 7th - 16th, 2008 > opening at 19h

“We had a theory, that was at the beginning nice and elegant… and then someone did turn it upside down, so it became ugly…” – This is the slogan of Era Milivojević’s project,  to be realized in the O3one art space in August 2008, as a book that that in a collaging and recombining manner presents the content of one locally published encyclopedia, and a spatial setting that surrounds it. As the aforementioned elements of this project, this slogan, as a textual ready-made, was also sampled from the context in which it was originally found (as a segment of a text from popular science), and brought into the area of the unresolvable conflict between the production of art and the production of theory that relates to art with pretentions to articulate and conceptually fix it. In that sense, it functions as the critique of the division of roles in the art world. Namely, it is evident that books published locally in the genre of art theory more and more lack both their inner coherence and grounding in the facts of the actual production of art, as well as the elegance and economy of inference of arguments, so that they could hardly be seen as thought experiments, out of the domain of pure technology of text production. Their influence on the perception and validation of art history and the present artistic production remains strong, and they are being experienced as a kind of meta-level with a mandate to arbitrate on artworks, even as a source of their total sense and meaning.

Era Milivojević’s projects turn against this self-understandable hierarchy and demonstrate one of the possible manners of conceptual reconsideration and change of the relation between the visual and textual content of a book, as well as the meanings established in that manner. The book that was taken as a starting point is not from the current theory production. That is an encyclopedia published several decades ago, by a local publisher, with a local publishing board, and it is exactly that time distance that makes it possible that the technology of its production of (ideological) meaning be seen more clearly. Contradictions in the regime of text and image are much more visible in it. When Era brings the content of that book into the process of collaging recombination, dealing with the found relations between visual and textual material as independent composite units, he in fact, these contradictions brings into focus and makes them visible, showing manners in which their performative effect can be altered and manners of their constitution brought into a different set of relations.

This project is made in the series of Era Milivojević’s projects that are based on sampling incidentally discovered facts of the everyday reality and reading and reframing of their meanings. In the similar projects lately realized (such as “Aida Blue”, SKC Gallery 2007 and “Shot”, Belef 2007), he has used a photo or video camera for generating the content, while this time he has simply found it in a book discovered at the flea market. Segments of the content of that book (relations in which one finds the textual and visual content in it) were cut out, recombined and put again into the format of a book that has a status of  a work, i.e. an art object, while a set of elements of such a segmented book were used for the spatial setting in the gallery.

Book, as a total art object and a separate medium of visual art, in the historiography of experimental art practices is discernable still from the late eighteenth century, from the William Balke’s “Poems of Innocence and Experience”. In that medium the “Sounds” by Wassily Kandinsky, “Kindness Week”, by Max Ernst, some joint works by Asger Jorn and Guy Debord, as well as parts of the production of numerous Fluxus and conceptual artists. Joint characteristics of the mentioned works are that they do not treat the book as a medium through which certain content is being presented and distributed, but as a space in which it gets constituted, in the compositional settings that treat the text as well as a set of visual units.

This project at the O3one Art Space has been realized in collaboration with AICA, Serbian section, as an example of criticism of the state of affairs in the art world by an artist. The curator of the exhibition, for AICA, is Stevan Vuković. This is, actually, the second exhibition realized in collaboration between O3one and AICA Serbia. Last year it was the project by Igor Ćorić, titled “e – nimation”, that was curated by Ljubica Jelisavac Katić, for AICA Serbia.