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  • Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb)
    20 September – 11 November 2017

    The Showroom (63 Penfold St, Marylebone, London NW8 8PQ, UK) Curated by: What, How & for Whom/WHW, in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg, co-curated by Emily Pethick Preview: Tuesday 19 September, 6.30–8.30pm Exhibition opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12–6pm The Showroom presents the epilogue of a long-term project which took place over several months in Zagreb (November 2016 to May 2017), which contextualised and rethought the Kontakt Art Collection. It was curated by What, How & for Whom/WHW in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg. This final exhibition is co-curated by The Showroom Director Emily Pethick. Taking selected works from the Vienna-based Kontakt Art Collection as its point of departure, including seminal pieces by some of the most prominent artists from Central, Eastern and South-East Europe since the 1960s, the exhibition stages an interplay between these and other historical, contemporary and newly produced works that interpret and critically examine the collection. The project unfolded in six episodes in Zagreb, each iteration influencing, contradicting and reinforcing each other. It took place in a number of smaller art spaces, artists' studios, private apartments and other locations related to artistic production and the broader cultural landscape of the city. This final stage of the project at The Showroom continues to reframe and expand the context of the collection. Interlacing geographically and poetically heterogeneous artist practices, the project attempts to punctuate standardized presentations and interpretations of works that have dominated international art circuits over the last few decades, with more disorderly and experimental arrangements. The project title is taken from a work by Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović (1947–2016), to whom the project is dedicated. Stilinović's life-long anti-systemic approach, his quiet but shrewd rebellion against social conventions and the conventions of art, and an artistic practice that trenchantly and humorously engages with complex themes of ideology, work, money, pain and poverty, inspired a generation of artists worldwide. The project is a cooperation with Kontakt Art Collection and is supported by Erste Group Bank AG and ERSTE Foundation. http://www.theshowroom.org/ http://www.whw.hr/

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Slaven Tolj

The Croatian artist Slaven Tolj rose to international acclaim with his installations, body-art and performances, all of which mirror a distinctive political and sociocultural criticism. His initial steps as an artist were directly shaped by his experiences during the Yugoslav war, the collapse of the state and, in particular, the conquest of Dubrovnik by the Yugoslav army in 1991-92. In the late 1990s, Tolj gradually expanded his field of work by incorporating new motifs such as political change, multicultural existence and globalization. He is also active as curator and in various art organizations. He was, for instance, one of the founders of the Art Workshop Lazareti in Dubrovnik, which is now setting the tone in the contemporary art scene of Dubrovnik and Croatia.

In his works, Tolj primarily concentrates on the torn structure of Dubrovnik's society, his native town, where he lives and works. He calmly examines the relationships and remains of the war from his personal and reserved angle. Instead of producing documentary work and activism, Tolj considers it more appropriate to act indirectly; criticizing from the inside, in a way that the effect of said criticism on reality can only be difficultly assessed, even though the value of his oeuvre for the symbolic part of art is not questioned. The central motif of his work is avoiding direct language and images; he works by deliberately leaving aside and omitting things. Tolj places his work within the narrow borderline between the visible and invisible – by either choosing photography, installation, performance or the concrete as his media. The barely perceptible crack contained in his work adds energy to it, which – regardless of how personal it may seem – critically examines the political aspect of art or the concept of art for a broader audience.

 

M.S.

 

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