Slovenia, the Promised Land
Kindly invited to the opening of group exhibition: Slovenia, the Promised Land, at SC Gallery, Savska street 25, Zagreb, Croatia, on Wednesday 4th December at 8 pm. Participating artists: Nika Autor, Suzana Brborović, Tomaž Furlan & Marija Mojca Pungerčar. Curator of the exhibition: Jadranka Plut.
In the last chapter of his book Capital: Critique of Political Economy, Karl Marx wrote about the accumulation of capital. With the capitalist on one side and the worker on the other side, the capitalistic method of production brings capital to the capitalist and misery to the worker. The capitalists own the necessities of life, raw materials and all work tools. Numerous workers are forced to sell out their work power to capitalists for a small amount of life necessities, which at best suffice only for maintaining their ability to work and raising a new generation. The capital is not only produced, but also multiplied and increased, which allows the growth of its power over the proletariat. "Accumulation of capital is, therefore, increase of the proletariat."
Karl Marx's words remain relevant nowadays, because as a society, we are facing the same manner of exploitation and work attitude daily. Exploitation and inhuman treatment of workers are the consequences of the exploitative attitude of capital towards the subject.
The exhibition title, Slovenia, the Promised Land, is a paraphrase of the chorus from a song released by the band Buldožer in 1984 on their album Pljuni istini u oči (Spit the Truth into Eyes). In the eyes of numerous economic migrants living in less developed areas of Yugoslavia, Slovenia was heaven on Earth, a place where you can find a job and cultured company. The reality proved disappointing to many for two reasons: Slovene nationalism and exploitation. The latter has become particularly evident in the last decade, when the exploitation has become the rule, not the exception.
The exhibition Slovenia, the Promised Land reveals anomalies in social exploitation of subjects that represent the minority without protection or civil rights. It reveals the economic tactics of the developed world that Slovenia is part of. Migrants from former Yugoslav republics, employed as construction workers, present cheap work force that can be exploited, and they are not given equal treatment in the labor market. Subjects that once presented pride, building the future on the basis of brotherhood and unity, are nowadays slaves to economic dictatorship and geopolitical vision of the Western world.
In their work, the artists Nika Autor, Suzana Brborović, Tomaž Furlan, Marija Mojca Pungerčar and raise the question of individuals and their position within the social structure. Their works feature the contrast between real and symbolic connotations in which subjects face different social and political realities within the society.
Nika Autor's video Solidarity shows workers protest in Ljubljana. The camera was directed towards ground, and recorded the movements of protesters. Solidarity is a piece that raises the issue of solidarity in the exploitative neoliberal system the workers found themselves in.
Suzana Brborović brings together the paintings from her two cycles, The Overlooked Reality and From Foundation to the Roof. The paintings are a product of her own experience, the experience of her father, the construction worker, and they deal with construction stories presented in various artistic media. The cycle From Foundation to the Roof examines the ways in which the social system puts pressure on our daily lives. By introducing an intimate life story that expands over the social issue, the question arises concerning the degradation of construction workers and their labor. The Overlooked Reality can be seen as Plato's allegory of the cave1, which puts emphasis on ignorance as the one thing that makes it impossible for people to break free from the cave, break the chains, stop observing their shadows and the shadows of others and look into the light, seen in the lines of Plato as "the path" towards the truth. "To reveal the truth is to contribute both to the understanding and the mistrust of the system we live in, and the shadows on plexi-glass are only a small part of the obvious presentation of problems and solutions."
Tomaž Furlan's video installation Hilda is one of the works from his cycle in the making, Wear. The videos from this cycle are video performances made exclusively for the camera, in a simple but monumental way, the artist being the author of the entire process. Hilda consists of two parts. In the first part, the artist dressed in overalls is digging with a shovel, while the second part features installations in gallery, where the shovel and pickaxe are put on display to symbolize work. The figure of Hilda, Slovenian baroness of construction, is used to exemplify the relationship of capital towards work reminiscent of vampires.
Brotherhood and unity by Marija Mojca Pungerčar consists of a series of photographs and documentary films, and brings forth two stories that played out in the same place, but with a 50-year gap: the building of Yugoslav Brotherhood and Unity Highway in 1958 and the construction of the new highway section Hrastje-Lešnica in 2006. We are confronted with two worlds. On one side is the optimistic attitude of workers from the era of brotherhood and unity when the new future was being built. On the other side, we are looking at the distressed workers, victims of neoliberal exploitation.
The exhibition Slovenia, the Promised Land is not explicit, but rather ambiguous, and it examines our relationship to everyday life. Art serves as of the observer of economic and social realities, and reveals the everyday individuals as slaves in the wheels of modern capitalism, where the subject is transformed into a valueless commodity. Capital is dead, it survives only as a vampire sucking on the real work - the more it sucks, the longer it survives.