Outside the Role
by Luiza Margan
Based on the research of the SC gallery’s role in the early avant-garde Yugoslavian movements of the 60ies and 70ies, a period significant for revaluation of artistic engagements and new forms, Margan created a spatial intervention – a display of wooden panels whose role was to break the large central gallery space as well as the passive role for the viewer proposed with the gallery’s wall-length seating benches. The artist examines the conditions and value of immaterial labor in the process of artistic creation. In a research driven process, she explores modes of re-presentation of labor within art as well as the specific relationship of the art work and audience. In this line, the exhibition space serves as a stage for reviewing different roles in which artistic work and its various modes of production can be articulated and communicated.
Through her research, the artist discovers and appropriates some of the archive material of the gallery as basis for her further work. A photo document from the 1972 becomes one of the key threads of the project. The image, treated as a facsimile on one hand and an enlarged photo–collage on the other, shows a public action of the art group TOK - a public protest march as part of the Kunst Markt culture event in Graz, in 1972, where the members of the group carried signs that, contrary to expectation, were not emblazoned with political slogans but rather abstract geometrical patterns. The documentary photograph is a frozen fragment of a trajectory of a walker with a statement. Under the motto “Art for Everyone”, artists carry their abstract paintings around the town in order to express their disagreement with institutions and the market that stand in the way leading to the autonomy of art, determining the value of artworks and turning them into objects of elitist culture. On the opposite side to this scene, workers are accidentally included into it. In a clever counter-move, Margan separated these two groups in the street into two independent units, opening a Pandora’s Box by this simple gesture. Many questions and doubts will emerge from it, like: Where are the boundaries of the autonomy of art? If they are not generated by the market, what kind of logic sets up the evaluation criteria for an artwork? Do artist receive adequate remuneration for their work? Associations will also trigger questions like: What happens when the artist skips the symbolic part, just lands a scene, and juxtaposes it to reality? Do the ones accidentally captured in a frame actually wish to be a subject of representation?
The video Rehearsal is part of the same project, together with the audio work in which 3 actors are engaged in en-acting the roles of the workers we see on the stage. A common theatre situation of dismantling the stage setting has been borrowed from reality. This scene is further elaborated in the form of a fictitious audio play i.e. a staged authoritarian dialogue of the artist ( the director) and the workers ( stage actors) ; the artist energetically directs their activities of the workers ( actors) and demonstrates the way how they should perform monotonous manual movements, even to some extent creating the entire atmosphere. The grades of reality, ranging from the adopted actual situation to fiction, actions and reflections on them are continuously altered and intertwined. The instructions by the artist, followed by workers who move wooden boards from one part of the stage to the other interchange with self-referential off statements and reflections on the phenomenology of the voice. It asks itself: how can we achieve that people without the right of speech speak and how do we reinstate the sound into its role in the struggle against power? Assuming the position of power in this fictitious play, the author links the question of ethics with the voice, intuitively addressing the connection that in many languages already exists in the very etymology of the word, where the expression denoting obedience is based on the verb “listen”. Borders between instructions for actions, speech acts and actions themselves are blurred.