Other Mythologies is a re-configuration and combination of two of Cibic’s other projects into the environment of Maribor Art Gallery. These projects are: Dictionary of Imaginary Places, which replaced names of real locations on the departures/arrivals board of Brnik Airport with fictional ones, and In the Gorges, a series of drawings of fictitious landscapes and cities after the Karl May novel In the Gorges of the Balkans produced in collaboration with a former police sketcher.
Cibic’s installation was created for a specific space in Maribor Art Gallery’s historic building that was formerly used as a monastic church. The room’s frescoes, commissioned by the Austro-Hungarian count Herman Gödel-Lannoy, date back to 1870, around the time when Karl May was writing In the Gorges of the Balkans. They depict grandiose scenes of Austro-Hungarian battles with the Ottoman Empire that intertwine the imaginary and the exotic with the factual. For example: one of them shows a conflict between a Turkish army and the citizens of Maribor amidst the ruins of the city though such battle never took place. This loose mix of the historical and the mythological provided the narrative backdrop within which Cibic inserted her contemporary enquiries into the implications of layering facts with fictions associated with representations of national culture.
The large-scale gallery installation simulates a transitional waiting space with the high tech aesthetics of hypermodernity. A wide screen high definition video projection of Ljubljana airport’s altered departures/arrivals board presenting fictitious destinations was surrounded by a black wall and floor tiles glazed and silk screened with the police sketcher’s drawings of fantasy Balkan places. Given the history of the room and what its frescoes depict, the reconfiguration of the two projects in this space is a direct engagement with the broad art historical context of visual representations of aspiration and fantasy. Through the emulation of a transitional or non-place in the historical context of the gallery, the spectator’s interaction with the artwork is made more complex as disparate codes of communication inhabit the same space.