Gallery installation of five solo performances. In the context of exhibition entitled “Real Presence” we set up an installation of live presence.
“Today, there is no longer any “ontological” difference between making art and displaying art. In the context of contemporary art, to make art is to show things as art.” (Boris Groys, Politics of Installation, e-flux journal #2, 01/2009) Gallery performance Naked Presence is about displaying live presence. We use a gallery space as a set up for installation of of five solo performances. Naked Presence is not about naked bodies, although they are dominant in the performances. Nakedness is just another mask of presence – it is not enough to take clothes off, each performer has to find the way how to unmask his own presence. Naked presence therefore treats a performance as a process of creating an artifact. Each performer exhibits the trails/leftovers of his/her presence as the artifact.
In Düsseldorf performance took place in the context of current Kunsthalle exhibition entitled “Real Presence” which presented works by artists that made explicit reference to Marcel Broodthaers. When Broodthaers presented his installation Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles at the Düsseldorf Kunsthalle in 1970, he put up a sign next to each exhibit saying: “This is not a work of art.” With Naked Presence we would like to add: “This is not a work of art. This is work of presence.”
Concept: Bojan Jablanovec
Performers: Marko Mandić, Jaka Lah, Barbara Kukovec, Kristian Al Droubi. Guidance through installation: Katarina Stegnar. Interview with Kristian Al Droubi: Christoph Rech.
Producer: Špela Trošt
Technical director: Igor Remeta
Production: Via Nova performances produced by Via Negativa and supported by Ministry of Culture of RS and the City of Ljubljana. Collective presentation Naked Presence as a part of the project Via Nova via FFT Düsseldorf produced by FFT Düsseldorf and supported by Kunststiftung NRW as a part of “Exposed – Grenzen der Schaulust.”
Venue and date: Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 19 November 2010 as part of Via FFT Düsseldorf program (pdf)
Duration: 3,5 hours
Grenzen der Schaulust
Andreas Kleindopf, http://www.duesseldorf-ist-artig.de, december 2010
With her performers from Slovenia, Via Negativa has come to be regarded as one of the most radical European performing groups. Via Nova marks the final chapter to the cycle on seven deadly sins that has emerged over the last few years. For the first time in Nordrhein Westfalen, the international group of performers will present themselves in three parts at three venues: with part 1. »Hunt for the Real«, part 2. »Naked Presence« and part 3. »Ja Ja Ja Nee Nee Nee« in what is a playful and witty testing of boundaries while exploring the relationship between the audience and the performer caught between a search for novel forms of expression and a desire for the known and familiar.
What is the relationship between the artist, spectator and the work of art? This fundamental question frames the second part. But rather than seeking answers, questions are being asked. What is art? Is an object/artifact/medium that is given an institutional framework already constitutive of art? Is a plate with a title, name and date enough for something to be considered a work of art? And what is the role of the spectator, or rather the visitor, in this? Can there be art without the spectator? The concept of the performing art is something akin to a catharsis, an eureka moment aided by an emotional upheaval.
»It’s nice to be Marko Mandić« – already the first performance by Marko Mandić is unsparing to its audience. The audience sits in front of a stark naked man squeezing a piece of cardboard between his knees. He tells us he is masturbating behind the cardboard screen. We don’t know whether he is telling the truth, but it seems he is. Certainly, it is not clear what is acted and what is for real, so the tension is mounting. The cardboard is the boundary between Mandić and the audience; it is the artist’s canvas. In the first ten minutes there is awkward silence. I find myself initially shocked that I am watching someone going about such an intimate business in front of an audience. Facial expressions of others betray similar thoughts. First visitors leave the venue. In the meantime, Mandić is simply explaining the genesis of the performance and what the difficulties in acting it out are. After approximately 20 minutes he speeds up and extracts life’s essence onto the cardboard. He places ‘the canvas’ next to his other ‘paintings’ with similar content, puts on his clothes and says: »It’s nice to be Marko Mandić«.
The action itself as an artistic procedure is of course an integral part of the performance; the performance can impact only in so long as it is tied to action, while a significant part of the performance also relates to the spectator and what he/she is experiencing. Mandić draws the spectator into an exceptionally intimate situation akin to voyeurism. The result is possibly the purest form of self-presentation. It is perfectly clear that this is about Marko Mandić, but not about arrogance or self-celebration; it is about something greater than that — Marko Mandić’s presence.
This is apparent also from Mandić’s second performance. While we are made to follow a film projection of his career as a professional actor, the performer is sitting naked inside a transparent plastic bag. Five minutes into the show I already find myself getting anxious about Mandić. What if the bag runs out of oxygen and he faints? Where is the boundary between art and a threat to one’s life? At what point am I obliged to interfere as a spectator? At last the artist comes out of the bag. Funnel-like he squeezes the sweaty contents of the bag into a glass. He places the sweat-filled glass on a display stand, marking it with a plate entitled ‘Extract’.
Bodily fluids as that which is most personal and a most direct testimony to human presence are turned into a museum piece. Art and the artist become inseparable. The path to art is extremely painstaking, provocative even, but essential for our understanding of the relationship between the spectator and artist.
A direct experience can bring on feelings of empathy, disgust, boredom in the spectator … even a direct physical response, with which the spectator participates in the performance, giving it a trace of his own presence. It is life itself, presence becoming visible, us asking questions, and ultimately, us living art.
Bodily experience in Kunsthalle
Melanie Suchy, RP Düsseldorf, 22. november 2010
This time round nobody cut a star into the stomach, as once did Marina Abramović. Like her, Via Negativa too comes from a country that used to be called Yugoslavia. Radical bodily performances are now relegates of history, art history; today we can see naked bodies practically on every stage. In spite of this, the group of performers from Slovenia succeeds in creating a special effect. Despite the seeming direct impact of nakedness, there is a visible ironical distance, perfect timing as a theatrical forte, and a robust, self-confident body.
The performer wraps himself in plastic foil. While the projected films document his career, he nearly suffocates in the bag. At the end he pours his sweat and exhaled liquid into a wine glass. Another performer surrounds himself with sheets of toilet paper, which he neatly arranges piece by piece. The black inside the white circle suddenly reminds one of Beuys’s chimney, which we can see projected on the wall behind the performer. A naked performer is playing with a small whisker as though she is managing both light and sound to then set off an explosion: “Grabbeplatz, buum”, she utters quietly. She goes on to name streets, town quarters, cities. A barely perceptible hand gesture: everything goes flying into the air, imaginary, then she lies down into a puddle of red color and spreads her legs. Courbet, Duchamp? A reminder, reprobation? A pose? In any case, powerful.