Jasmina Cibic: Tear Down and Rebuild, Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade
Curated by Una Popović
September 11th 2015 – October 25th 2015
The Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade is proud to present the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition in Serbia. Jasmina Cibic’s work explores histories of ideological formations, which she addresses with site and context specific installations, performance and film. By traversing different structures and systems, the artist creates projects that often feel like Gesamtkunstwerke within which she re-works found ready-mades spanning from language, architecture to historical events. These form components of a theatrical stage and speak of their place of origin infused with a variable effective half-life, charged with former ideologies that only slowly over time can cool down. Jasmina Cibic investigates these properties outside of their usual habitat and aside from their physical reality as communicative mediums that are charged (and recharged) with meaning and political programmatic.
The artist’s new project for the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade presents the third chapter of the artist’s series Spielraum (initiated at Ludwig Museum Budapest and MGLC Ljubljana earlier this year) which questions the potential of instrumentalization of visual language, rhetoric and architecture in the construction of the State as spectacle throughout recent history and investigates how art and architecture can serve as soft power strategies of every political order.
The exhibition at MOCABpresents a theatrical set, composed of a performative installation and a new film work, which the artist shot in the former Palace of the Federation in Belgrade. The building, completed in 1961 in order to host the first conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, was conceived as a part of the urban plan for New Belgrade and represented the physical embodiment of new ideas in post 2WW Yugoslavia. In the period of scarce resources, its construction became a visual paraphrase of the construction of the new federal state and its ideological underpinnings. The interior of the building was conceived as a visualisation of the “representational” Yugoslav elements from all six federal republics, featuring their local wood, stone, carpets and artworks. What was constructed as the stage for new world politics presenting a middle course for states in the developing world between the Western and Eastern Blocs in the Cold War, today exists as an empty theatre box: void of its actors. It is the stage that becomes the actor itself, it is the stage that Jasmina Cibic resurrects as the focal point of ideological consideration in her exhibition Tear Down and Rebuild.
Cibic’s new film features an all-female cast and frames its four characters (a Nation Builder, a Pragmatist, a Conservationist and an Artist/Architect) as an extension of the architecture and its fittings – formally completing the empty stage, as sculptures rising from the scenographic background, the architecture itself. The film’s dialogue is composed from quotes drawn from various political speeches, debates and proclamations on iconoclasm of architecture, art and monuments; the language that endorsed demolition and redesign, which was to aid the creation of new displays for ensuing nation-states or ideological positions throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The sources for the script include amongst others: Regan’s speech on the Berlin Wall, Prince Charles’s 1984 address at RIBA and Isis bloggers’ proclamation on the demolishment of temples. As the film’s narrative unfolds, the viewer is a witness to the final decision to demolish the fictitious building, the image of which is constructed in the spectator’s imagination through a collage of quotations on diverse, ideologically contrived and historically charged buildings, monuments, walls etc. that were to be or were knocked down – pointing to the universality and timelessness of the paradox of national and ideological representation and its icons.
Jasmina Cibic’s installation at MOCAB reworks two spaces: the scenography of the cinematic space for the viewing of the film along with its seating/sculptures and a performative installation in its antechamber, a space covered in its entirety with representations of a fictitious landscape that the artist has composed from numerous photographs drawn from the archives of Josip Broz Tito’s personal photographers. These present picturesque and sublime landscapes as captured by the artists (photographers) in the servitude of the state, setting the scene for the various protocol events scattered around the globe that were to shape the geo-politics of the post 2WW world. Within this composite landscape, Cibic displays quotes from various political speeches on nation building, as blown up banners deposited on top of trees and mountains throughout the imagined landscape. During the exhibition, a performance will take place, where a group of artists will be gilding this series of positive affirmations as the final act of staging the Gesamtkunstwerk Tear Down and Rebuild.