About functionality or how something works?

Exhibition curator and introductory text: Slobodan Trajković
July 21st - August 4th, 2014

37''_video_rad_2014,.jpg-= Abaz Dizdarević naziv rada,2014, instalacija Dino Karailo, video rad 2014 Radmila Lizdek, Cekanje, 2014,video rad Nikola Simanić, In Between, 2014

Exhibition participants:
Nikola Simanić, Dino Karailo, Radmila Lizdek, Abaz Dizdarević, Mladen Blažević

Skulptura ima svoju vrednost samo ako radi na unapredjenju ljudske svesti.
Josef Boys, 1964

The function is dedicated to the constitution of the form and is in the service of creating a community that in its work will not depend on anything else. The function consolidates the continuous existence of a particular purpose. It constitutes itself in organizing one value with others, and each value exists for both. In this reciprocity, they create appropriate values or a series of others that correspond to each other. By creating the unique function, they create the functionality that is further determined in the time duration.

The function can be analyzed both by the functionality of the organs in the body or by the constitution of thoughts that are functionally determined with certain phenomena. As a precise and immediately understandable definition of a function or something that completely meets its purpose, it is an example of the function of some sort of tool or machine – the way they work.

Comparing these phenomena, as something constitutes functionally, at first glance it seems to be a simple question, but at the same time, it always causes confusion, disagreement, and debate. It raises the eyebrows and creates a half-smile of satisfaction because we attend a unique meeting, joining, unifying… What we know is that the world we live in is closer to everything than functionality, and we know its main trait – variability.

In the context of Boys’ thought, which we mentioned at the beginning of the text, artistic work has its function only when it opens new spaces of consciousness and removes the barriers to creating a new assumption. It is evident here that he moves the entire context of the artwork outside of the work itself and direct him to the principle of the other – to the state of consciousness that is affected by the initial scene. That is a causal connection that always works. Moving into an open state of consciousness at the same time asks the question of the extent to which the work of art is actively starting the reception/interpretation as an open platform1.

The use of art as a means of political, religious, moral education in society is almost as old as the art itself. But if we talk about art, in the way Heidegger proposed thinking about essence, then we see that art is now what it once was, only now it has found its place in another form in which it has achieved a new individuality2. So, the assumption is that an artwork is neither the first nor the last, but it is one in a series that talks about its uniqueness within the general. Art constantly speaks about itself, and about what it does. Surely further reflection on its universality, as essential, shows that it is the result of a consensual state – as a reflection of not only artists but also social and cultural changes. On the other hand, by observing the function and functionality in thinking about our body, we wonder what happens when a person does not “work”? When it’s not functional. The body does not work because it does not fulfill the basic function. To have all the organs and to use all the senses. The development and unification of sensory organs are organic processes. We continuously coordinate our participation with our body, our breathing, movement, horizontal or vertical position – and in general, according to our functionality. Work is a natural process that is parallel with the body function. We confirm the natural course of our lives daily. These words I write are now shaped and testify to how my consciousness and bodywork in a coordinated way. They talk about their work in creating a sense, a function that has the task of maintaining sense and organs in the body, in communion with the mind. This is the phenomenon of unity – in creating communion and unifying the body as an organism.

Gilles Deleuze and  Félix Guattari in their essay “Body without organs”speak very clearly about the state of the body when it gains or loses the possibility of its complete function. They are representing the idea of a body that does not have an end-to-end function. What happens when the body swallows its vocal cords? Or, when the body swallows its stomach? What do the eyes do when they become annoying to the body that carries them because they do not see what they look at? Supporting the predisposition of the conflict is a situation that prevents the connection of the “organic organization of the body.”4

In this complex situation of analysis of how the body works, we come to the question of how the artist works? How does he think? About his ability to cross the meaning and effort of collecting and organizing knowledge, his strategies of finding out the unknown, and preparing for unexpected.

Constant dissemination of the boundaries of expression in visual arts implies that the artist changes, to understand his pluralistic environment. Building a platform, which would be far from the academic regime, is the only possible way to meet art and its ideas. We say that art has always been in the field of epistemology and that the emphasis on the presence of the so-called “new knowledge” has no difficulty in discovering. However, what was happening was that this theory of knowledge came almost always from some other analyst in the field of philosophy of science, and seldom or rarely from the artist himself. The one who represents the experience of an artist in the form of speech or text, he represents his vision and the relevance of that work with the state of human consciousness and the time in which it occurs. However, the time of change came the time when artists should talk about what happened not only in the “studio” but also what happened within the work.

On the other hand, academic engagement with art does not imply creation, but the activity of an individual capable of shaping something by the learned academic pragmatism. Of course, here is the immediate need to define the question of how we know that there is some research and that it is in search of new knowledge? What are the criteria? How to construct and present a new experience in knowledge? The conventional platform, the place where the values of the artwork are examined, with the established starting point – that has long been disturbed since modern currents transformed the criteria of the place where the values of the artwork5. Therefore, the artist needs clarity of relations and only in the presence of them is possible moving forward. For example, the drawing “Cry”, Edvard Munka and the cry of Marine Avramović in the face of Ulaja (in the performance photos and later photographs) have the same visual platform of speech (sound) but, as they reflect the internal state and which visual language serves to present it, that situation is completely different. Or, to mention another example, the work of Kazimir Maljević and Denis Oppenheim. On Maljević painting “Black Square” appears for the first time in the history of painting as a space that represents only a color – as a process for applying a pure color covering a certain area of the canvas. Denis Oppenheim uses solar energy and his body to present the same scene. He covers his chest with a book in the sun, and thus builds a field of the square. His body skin in the process of exposure to the sun “burns” in the redness to form the outline of the square. After the performance and the removed book, there was a “white” square on his chest. This work also represents a color, but the dominant presence is the engagement of the artist to create something outside the established, expected using natural energy and his body.

Therefore, a practical solution is needed in the analysis of such starting points, which would erase fixed references and open the research of the form or how something works in the artwork?

We live in a time when traditional aesthetics do not provide the artist with a shelter for discovering herself. Work no longer has this coherence and uniqueness; it is already possible to run parallel to more levels and more places at the same time. The romantic character of the 19th-century artist with all his masterpieces, legends and geniuses moved long ago in history and museums. The artist needs to establish a more reflexive view of himself and his practice, and in this way sees himself, not only as a subject but also as an object of his research6. It is necessary to observe himself and his work in the context of cultural and social events. “To become doesn’t mean to imitate someone, or doing something, or adapting to any model, even if it was a model of justice or truth.”Art is not a socially accepted activity by a large number of people but is accepted only from a small number of educated and rich. That is what the artist should correct, he should reflect himself and his presence as a creative social being. To be all this not because someone has published the author’s death8, but because art is not a closed-form but an open-organic, unique phenomenon – which functions as a nursery in the garden that flourishes with every new look.

Slobodan Trajković
London, July 2014

1. Umberto Eco, The Poetics of the Open Work/1962, Edited by Claire Bishop, Participation, Documents of Contemporary Art, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2006, p. 20.
2. Martin Heidegger, Basic Questions of Philosophy, Selected “Problems” of “Logic” Indiana University Press, 1994, p. 57.
3. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, Chapter 6, November 28th, 1947: How do you Make Yourself a Body Without Organs?, Bloomsbury Academic, London, 2013, pp. 173-193.
4. Ibid., p. 184
5. Edited by Michael Schwab and Henk Borgdorff, The Exposition of Artistic Research: Publishing Art in Academia, Leiden University Press, 2014, p. 14
6. Ibid., p. 15
7. Zil Delez, Keller Parne, dialogues, Fedon, Beograd, 2009, p. 10
8. Roland Barthes, The Death of the Author/1968, Edited by Claire Bishop, Participation, Documents of Contemporary Art, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2006, p. 41