Virtual Gallery of the Art Pavilion
Cycle A different perspective
Author of the Virtual gallery
Jasminka Poklečki Stošić
director of the Art Pavilion in Zagreb
Artist selector and text author
dr. sc. Ivana Mance
Mihael Giba, Oleg Šuran, Ivana Tkalčić, Klasja Habjan, Tin Dožić
But this account was contradictory and full of holes, also because
Damir Martinec (Art Pavilion in Zagreb), ILI NET
Proof-reading English translation
Ivana Sor Graham McMaster
Although the format of Web gallery, or online exhibition, has become a part of the regular programmes of many museum and gallery institutions and is not necessarily connected to emergency situations of any kind, the fact that the building of the Art Pavilion has been out of commission since March 22 last year, as a result of damage inflicted on it during the earthquake, is a symbolic factor to which it is impossible not to refer. The rationale runs as follows: the situation of having no roof over one’s head (literally, homelessness), however hard, and indeed impossible, it might be, is always at the same time an opportunity. But for it to be actualised as an opportunity, it is necessary to do what is the hardest – to snap links of sentiment and go elsewhere; but not to some replacement, interim place, necessarily felt as loss, a feeling it is more likely to exacerbate than to assuage, but really to set off into genuine exile, in search of a new home. In real life such decisions, of course, are hard to take. And not even in the symbolic space of art are such resolutions easy; but they are taken willingly, without coercion from outside, and so will contribute to creative health.
It was decided, then, to turn affliction into opportunity, and to found a cycle of Web exhibitions of the Art Pavilion not as some compensatory space that will last no longer than the temporary situation, but as a new platform, which will necessarily change the settled identity of the gallery institution itself. Like the god Janus, this decision has two faces, pointing in two directions: the abandonment of the existing conventional framework of the exhibition presentation and communication of art, for which there are no longer any real operating conditions, and looking towards the creation of a new media “habitat” that will bring in different models of the production, mediation and interpretation of artistic contents. In a sense, the situation is a bit similar to that which Vilém Flusser, a Czech German of Jewish origin whom Nazism deprived of his home, a philosopher and media theorist as well, describes as the situation of every exile; the suddenly acquired freedom that overtook him is not only “freedom from” but always “freedom for”; while the first implies an emotional alienation from the local habitation, whose sublime beauty suddenly comes across as a trite habit, the other freedom means a creative freedom to create new links and voluntarily to take on responsibility.
The approach to the Virtual gallery of the Art Pavilion has thus taken its departure from the postulate that in the situation in which the institution finds itself, it is impossible to pretend normality. The building has been severely damaged and even a short period spent in it is a risk to life and limb; the usual form of the exhibition in which works are shown in physical space and linear time is unfeasible; the Web site of the gallery, which usually functions as a place at which to obtain secondary information, has become pointless. If the general conditions of earthquake and pandemic are also taken into consideration, conditions that determine everyday life in Croatia, it is clear that the actual symbolic capital of the institution as a prestigious gallery institution should not be taken for granted. A move in the direction of younger artists and of experimental, non-classical artistic approaches is to an extent a certain gesture of solidarity, an act of institutional support to production that has in the cultural field not a dominant but an emergent position. Naturally, the interest is always two-way; the programme offered underpins the work of the wounded institution and invests in its continued survival.
Without any very great resources at their command and with quite elementary technical support, the artistic events to follow will be more in the spirit of low-tech – of a practice that works according to the logic of tactical innovation and ingenuity, intervening into the existing state of affairs and the use of tools and resources in an open approach, all, however, via extremely diverse authorial poetics. Let us go back to the original idea: we shall use, then, “freedom from” everything that characterises the operations of the gallery in normal circumstances – expensive transportation, costly insurance premia, opulent set ups, starchy openings, politically correct speeches, entry tickets the prices of which are far from negligible – in order to create that “freedom for” what we think will stimulate its future –creative audacity, social accountability and the shaping of a new audience.
Author of the text: Ivana Mance
Biography Ivana Mance
Dr Ivana Mance, art historian, is employed in the Institute of Art History. Her scholarly interests take in research into the history of Croatian art history and various topics from 19th and 20th century art – the role of art and the cultural heritage in the constitution of national identity in the 19th century, the history of art institutions in the 19th and 20th centuries, 19th and 20th century painting. To these topics she has devoted a book, a chapter in a book by several hands, and a number of scholarly papers.
Since the time of her university studies she has also been engaged in art criticism, keeping up with contemporary artistic production and events in exhibition practice. She has devised and produced a number of exhibitions. Ivana Mance is a member of several professional associations, in which she has also undertaken management roles (AICA, DPUH, ULUPUH). From 2009 to 2019 she was the editor-in-chief of the journal Kvartal [A chronicle of art history in Croatia] and since 2018 has been editor-in-chief of the scholarly journal Život umjetnosti [Life of art]; she is also a member of the editorial board of the academic journal Peristil. Supervising work in theory, she teaches in the doctoral course in the Academy of Fine Arts of Zagreb University as well as in the doctoral course in human sciences at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Zadar University.