Notes on Undoing
at Garis & Hahn / NEW YORK (USA)
20.11.2014 - 20.12.2014

Notes on Undoing brings together a group of artists with a shared cultural heritage and diverse practices all centered on exposing, unpacking and exploring the dominant assumptions that inform the perspectives of the viewers and the artists themselves. Viewers might observe these artists tackling their practices with disparate yet connected approaches: with an interest in universal human experiences such as the way the body or an object relates to its environment; and alternately with an interest in the experiences particular to being an artist, for example the relationship between the artist and the institution, or the presentation of work in a space. Curator Branka Benčić elaborates further: “Artistic positions engage with issues of (re)presentation, structure and construction of the work of art, or the act of ‘exhibiting’ itself, pointing to tensions between the observer and the observed, exploring spatial relationships and interactions between objects.” Notes on Undoing seeks to examine these relationships through a variety of artistic perspectives and media.

The exhibition space, either literally or figuratively, provides ample material for the exploration of these relationships. Artists Igor Eškinja and Vlatka Horvat both destabilize the viewer’s interaction with space; while Eškinja’s photographs challenge and upend traditional notions of the relationship between the image and the space it is presented in, Horvat’s wall-mounted Equivalents series of diptychs and triptychs created from “non-art” materials bring into question the viewer’s relationship to artwork. Viktor Popović’s work takes this a step further with his sitespecific found-object sculptures, which bring “non-art” materials into a gallery context to expose the tenuous relationship between art and the exhibition space, while Tina Gverović’s work, a collection of drawings from her 2013 residency at the Tate modern, continues to explore her interest in methods of integrating her work into the architecture of an environment. Artists Dino Zrnec, a painter, and Marko Tadić, working in collage and animation, seem to explore and seek to build on the history of their respective media through their practices. Zrnec treats his large paintings as a series of experiments - eager to manipulate the canvas and explore new relevancies in famed techniques, he pours paint from one canvas to another to create work reminiscent of abstract expressionist stain paintings, yet still pushing the form into the twenty-first century. Tadić constructs visual environments with precise and confident shapes, taking the medium to a new place with his stop-animation collage Until a Breath of Air. Damir Očko will also show three collaged photo compositions, which like Tadić’s work use the form of collage to create meaning in layers and juxtapositions.

Film is also used adeptly to unveil complicated relationships between the viewer, content and the space created between them. In Zlatko Kopljar’s film K16 the artist digs a hole for over ten minutes, evoking feelings of futility and pointlessness at this seemingly interminable task. Ljiljana Mihaljević’s short film The Route expresses similarly nihilistic sentiments. The Route shows Mihaljević playing a never-ending game of hopscotch, where the hopscotch grid has been drawn into a circle. The film begins with a quote from Nobel Peace in Literature recipient Ivo Andrić on the circular nature of civilizations and impossibility of finding a direct path to truth. The constructed realities of these films relate to Chapter IV of Hrvoje Slovenc’s photography series Marble Hill, in which the artist created a diorama of an apartment that burned down in his Bronx neighborhood, then set fire to the diorama and photographed imaginary scenes involving characters and objects affected by the fire, revealing moments that typically go undocumented in disasters like fires. Artist Igor Grubić’s series Angels with Dirty Faces, portraits of the Croatian miners whose strike forced the resignation of Communist president Slobodan Milošević, also works to reveal the unseen. Grubić photographed these miners against a background of chalkdrawn wings, seeming to reference the miners’ role as political “saviors” in recent history of Yugoslavia and Serbia.

In the range of approaches exhibited in Notes on Undoing, the viewer may observe the ways in which these artists’ deconstruct and “undo” the assumptions and structures around them, while at the same time their works create and reveal new frameworks and relationships in all of these realms. Garis & Hahn is proud to have the opportunity to present this landmark first exhibition of Croatian contemporary art in conjunction with Ikon Arts Foundation. Linda Mateljan, director of Ikon, writes: “As the inaugural exhibition for Ikon Arts Foundation, we wanted to show the breadth of high-quality work that is being produced in Croatia, as well as its relevance in the contemporary art scene in New York City.”

curated by Branka Benčić

Courtesy of the artists and Garis & Hahn