12 August 2020 Kindly invited to the exhibition "For the Good of the Nation" which is a part of 6th Reciklart festival. Exhibiting artists: Mia Paller, Oliver Pilić, Mojca Senegačnik, Leon Zuodar in Ulla Žibert.
Like all of us, this year’s Reciklart festival has also been heavily affected by the outbreak of the new coronavirus and the measures that followed it. This also applies to the group exhibition For the Good of the Nation. Thus, most of the works directly or indirectly touch on topics that surfaced during the epidemic: self-isolation, protective masks, environmental pollution, corruption, hate politics, and so on. In accordance with the festival’s title, the theme of the exhibition is recycling, or 'upcycling', ie how to reuse something old in a creative way, bringing new content and / or quality to the piece. Upcycling can be quite broad, so the artists resort to very diverse procedures.
In the work Fine Art - For the Good of the Nation, Mojca Senegačnik uses her mother's old tablecloth with typical Slovene motifs and decorates it with statements about Slovenian culture from the current political scene. (These statements, which seek to denigrate the supposedly 'elitist' and 'left-wing' culture, which can be considered an end to itself while using populist domestic rhetoric, thus place them in the context to which they refer, thereby imposing place to which they belong: behind the kitchen table). Ulla Žibert uses her canvases to address banal, everyday situations with an emphasis on social criticism. Her picture Can we have sex? So I can forget about sea turtles swallowing plastic bags./ Can have so forget about sea swallowing plastic. hints at concerns and feelings of guilt over environmental problems, but also shows the darker side of how in a privileged Western world, such worries are casually ignored when they become too uncomfortable. In the series of photographs Hundred years which were taken during the quarantine, Oliver Pilić points out the manipulativeness and falsity of the prevailing ‘redemptive’ narrative of anti-corona measures. He critically succumbs to the hypocrisy of politics which placed medical masks in the role of holy cows during the epidemic. But as the affair with the procurement of protective equipment showed, even at this critical moment, corruption and profiteering lurked in the background. The work also highlights an issue that has completely disappeared from the public consciousness in the light of the virus: an environmental issue - that will only be exacerbated by protective measures. In a series of graphics, Leon Zuodar recycles old graphic prints, which he uses as a color base for applying new art elements. This accumulation and loading creates an impression of oversaturation and chaos that vividly reflects the present: the eternal longing for the ever new, modern, and more advanced, which in turn overshadows and pushes into oblivion the old, causing us to lose touch with our own roots. In the video Deliquescing, Mia Paller addresses the transformation of the environment due to urbanization. Analogous photographs of Dutch landscapes and the ongoing process of how the artificial environment interferes with the natural, and how the natural returns to the urban, are upgraded with drawing and dynamized into video. He thus introduces into the work a tension between the real and the imaginary and introduces a narrative: it seems as if he amorphously (naturally) masters and overcomes the constructed landscape. It is accompanied by a sound composition composed of natural atmospheric sounds.
Lately, we often hear that despite everything that the US President is saying, coronavirus will not just disappear and that we will have to learn to live with it. This year’s Reciklart is also looking for ways to adapt to the new situation. At the same time, we must not forget that the old problems with corona have not just disappeared. The environmental crisis, the rise of intolerance and nationalism, the crisis of democracy, attempts to revise history, the rise of false news and pseudoscience - all of this is flourishing in the shadow of the epidemic. And it’s important that art draws attention to this, just like the works from this group exhibition, each in its own way.
Jaka Andrej Vojevec
Photos of the exhibition: Nina Pernat