The Pleasure of Expense
18 October – 14 December 2019
Preview & Performance
Thursday 17 October, 5.30–7.30pm
12 Hour Non-State Parade
Saturday 30 November, 11am–11pm
Cooper Gallery is proud to present The Pleasure of Expense, a major solo exhibition of new works by award-winning Slovenian artist Jasmina Cibic, internationally lauded since representing Slovenia at the 55th Venice Biennial (2013). Visually evocative and critically engaged, the exhibition at Cooper Gallery choreographs film, sculpture, photography, textile, performance and archives into a provocative mediation on the aesthetics and gestures underscoring contemporary politics and international relations.
With 2019 marking one hundred years since the founding of the League of Nations and haunted by the uncertainties of Brexit and concurrent shifts in global power, The Pleasure of Expense is a timely dissecting of statecraft and the concept of the political gift; the donation of artistic, architectural, political or philosophical thoughts to ideological structures. Composed of a newly commissioned gallery-specific filmic installation, a live performance, existing works and archival material, the exhibition and its Event Series provide a nuanced and subtle play on the recurring politicisation of culture.
The visual touchstone of the exhibition is an immersive photographic mural of a fictitious politicised landscape. Projected onto this assemblage, Cibic’s new film The Gift: Act II conjures the architectural space of the Palace of Nations in Geneva (home to the League of Nations 1929-1938), whose interior was comprised of gifts from member states.
Replete with the appropriate pomp and circumstance The Pleasure of Expense will raise its curtain at the exhibition preview with an all-female operatic ensemble. Bringing the gifting of culture centre stage, the ensemble will sing excerpts of political speeches made during key moments of social crisis in the 20th century. Sung whilst reclining on hammocks embroidered with political slogans and suspended from three metal sculptures, the new performance brings state power, modernist architecture and the disciplined body into a single spectacle.
The new commissions are accompanied by Cibic’s earlier explorations of soft power in her 2015 film Spielaraum: Tear Down and Rebuild and 2018 film States of Illusion which interrogate the socio-political web of relationships in culture and the immanent power structure of society. The exhibition will also be contextualised with archival material the artist examined during her research at The Espace Niemeyer Archive (Paris), League of Nations Archive (United Nations Library, Geneva), Archive of Yugoslavia (Belgrade), Landesarchiv (Berlin) and Archivio di Stato (Rome).
Expanded by an Event Series that includes Brechtian theatre workshops, an artist salon and reading groups, the exhibition will culminate in an international symposium, the 12-Hour Non-State Parade. Setting in motion a creative and critical mass of practitioners from contemporary art, critical theory and social activism, The Pleasure of Expense will found a shared imaginary that unpacks, subverts and proclaims an alternative to the hegemonic cultural spectacle embodied by the state.