Ibro Hasanović, A Short Story, 2011. Film, 10'20''

I clearly remember a winter night on the turn of the millennium when, to my delight, a group of colleagues and artists, all of them giants of the previous generations, accidentally gathered at the gallery in Zagreb I used to manage. Memories were brought to the fore - an unwritten history of the art scene I was just entering into – with all private dramas that created its complex structure; all of it unfolded in the semidarkness of the white cube's off hours. As it always happens in the part of the world that the international community likes to call 'the Balkans', the unavoidable turn of narratives from personal towards political verified that sequential line of turnovers, revolutions, crises and absorbed individual destinies. 'Too much history here,' I said, and we parted, sharing polite farewells, silenced by the overwhelming saturnine grip of history.

 

The selection of recent videos made by the artists from the region reverberate this peculiar state of mind created by the prevailing notion of historical determinism. By employing strong narrative traditions that mark the region's heritage, the artists approach diverse cultural and political channels through which history spills out into the present and future. Efficient mechanisms that plant the poisonous seeds of atrocities committed by generations yet to come are revealed. Elaborate apparatuses of oppressive control that do nothing but rebound the unlearned historical lessons are demystified.

 

The horizon of expectations is bleak. A blooded haze saturates the upside-down landscapes of Ibro Hasanović's A Short Story. The gaping darkness of the pit, the proverbial heart of darkness that swallows bodies and pukes out skeletons decades later, marks the end of Zlatko Kopljar's prophetic K16. Unanswered questions leave Mladen Miljanović's video Do You Intend To Lie To Me? open to the unnerving possibility of the endless repetition of the same. White noise appears and disappears constantly in the realm of Željko Kipke's video Surveillance Camera, underlying the manipulative essence and conspirational potential of contemporary systems of control. In the end, the clinical austerity of death spasms the tiny mechanism in Boris Cvjetanović’s One Life Fits a Lot, leaving us bewildered by its profound mimicry of life's futility. After all, it seems that the task of finding a way to break the circle of history's perpetual return is left to future generations. We have failed already.

 

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Too much history

Curated by Branko Franceschi

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