• 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.


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Vlado Martek

Vlado Martek entered into the field of visual art by writing poetry. In the mid-1970s, his poetry acquired special forms: he extracted poetry from the book and incorporated it into “poetic objects” made of mirrors, clay and books, he wrote poster poetry and graffiti which he exhibited in exhibitions-actions held by the neo-conceptual Group of Six Artists (1975-1979) in the streets and squares of Zagreb and other places.

Martek called himself a "pre-poet" and invested effort into "purifying" poetry to such an extent that he reduced it to the level when he emphasized reality of the elements which constitute materiality of the poem. Hence, the poem consists of various backgrounds used for writing, pencils, rubbers, alphabet, poetic forms …

In many of his works, Martek wanted to capture his mental state at the moment when he prepared to write poetry. Hence, his slogans with the topic "re-valuation of poetry" state the following: "Every act of picking up a pencil is an act of honesty", or "Before I write a poem, I must collect garbage from my street" (which the author did as a performance) or "Before I write a poem, I have to go to an Island" (which he has not done yet).

His works on poetry represent just a fragment of the activities of this multimedia artist. His work is consisting of collages, photos, sketches and drawings, actions and agitations, graphics and artist's books (samizdat) which he uses to express his attitudes, and most frequently his permanent rebellion against different authorities, be it artistic, political or religious. At the same time, Martek remains analytical and ironic, poetic and very funny.



Born in Zagreb, Croatia, 1951.

Martek studied Philosophy and Literature in Zagreb (Croatia) in the early 1970s. In the mid-seventies, he founded and was a member of the Group of Six Authors in Zagreb, together with Mladen and Sven Stilinović, Fedor Vučemilović, Boris Demur and Željko Jerman. Martek works as poet, visual artist and writer.

Lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia.

Solo Exhibitions (selected):

2012     “The Power of Support/Die Kraft des Untergrunds”, Aanant & Zoo, Berlin, Germany

2011     “Vlado Martek. Read Mallarmé”, Frank Elbaz Gallery, Paris, France

2010     “Vlado Martek: Poetry in action”, Miroslav Kraljevic Gallery, Zagreb, Croatia

2004     “Vlado Martek”, Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Group Exhibitions (selected):

2012     “The Present and Presence”, Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, Slovenia

2011     “Museum of Parallel Narratives. In the framework of L’Internationale”, MACBA Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

2010     “Gender Check - Rollenbilder in der Kunst Osteuropas“, MUMOK Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria

2009     “Who killed the painting? Werke aus der Sammlung Block”, Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen, Germany

2008     “Why here is always somewhere else”, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany

2007     “On Unknown Works”, Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia

2006     “Kontakt …aus der Sammlung der Erste Bank-Gruppe”, MUMOK Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria

2005     “FIRST PERSON SINGULAR”, Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, Croatia

2004     “Love it or Leave it”, 5. Cetinje Biennale, Cetinje, Montenegro

2003     “In den Schluchten des Balkan“, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany

2002     “In search of Balkania”, Neue Galerie Graz, Graz, Austria

This bibliography provides a list of books available in the
ERSTE Foundation Library

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Sudac, Marinko, ed. 2011. Područje zastoja = Standstill: kolekcija Marinko Sudac = Marinko Sudac collection. Zagreb: Avangarde Research Institute.


Stipančić, Branka, ed. 2010. Vlado Martek: Poezija u akciji = Poetry in action. Zagreb: DeLVe.


Rus, Zdenko, 2008. Vlado Martek 1973 – 2007: retrospektivna izloba = A retrospective exhibition. Zagreb: Moderna galerija.


Šuvaković, Miško, ed. 2002. Martek: fatalne figure umjetnika: eseji o umjetnosti i kulturi XX. stolje\89ca u Jugoistnočnoj, Istočnoj i Srednjoj Europi kroz djelo (vanje) umjetnika Vlade Marteka. Engl./Croat. Zagreb: Meandar.


Kolekcja artystow = Artist's collection. 1973-1993. 1993. Krakow: Fundacja Wyzwolenia Kultury.
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