[30th anniversary of ACC Metelkova mesto ] Andreja Gomišček: Calculations? I Never Do.
Kindly invited to the opening of the of the retrospective exhibition "Calculations? I Never Do"by Andreja Gomišček, on Friday, 9th September, at 6pm, at the Alkatraz Gallery. Kindly invited also to the opening of"6 × Collage!" exhibition by the same artist at the Channel Zero Gallery on 9th September at 7.30 pm. Both exhibitions are curated by Anabael Černohorski, Ana Grobler and Sebastian Krawczyk and are part of 30th anniversary of the ACC Metelkova.
Andreja Gomišček has been active in the spaces of AKC Metelkova mesto for almost 28 years. Her creative journey as a visual artist began as part of her work in the Monokel Club (a lesbian club that operates under the auspices of a lesbian section ŠKUC-LL), then it developed through various collaborations in the context of other collectives founded at Metelkova, namely: Lesbian Quarter, Red Dawns and Club SOT 24,5.
From the beginning, she felt at home at Metelkova, and she was close to the activist orientation of Metelkova's communities, of which she quickly became a part. She also found Metelkova's ideological orientations as a source of inspiration, as artistic expression was always a part of the wider social context for her. She has always perceived art as a means of reflection in relation to the phenomena of the modern world, her own position in it and the need to take a critical stance towards inequality.
More than twenty years have passed since the artist's first solo exhibition at Metelkova in the Monokel Club (Collages
, 2000), and since then she has exhibited at several feminist and lesbian festivals at home and abroad. Her works have been included in several retrospective exhibitions of feminist, lesbian and queer art in Slovenia, including one in the Alkatraz Gallery in collaboration with the festival Red Dawns (Through Her Eyes: Flashes of Lesbian-Feminist Production
, 2014). This time, Andreja Gomišček is presenting herself with her first solo retrospective exhibition, entitled 'Calculations? I Never Do.'
The title statement: 'Calculations? I Never Do.
' could also be read as a kind of a dialogue with herself. It comes from the captions of two of the four photos of the artwork Self-Portrait
(titled My Face Is Blazing
– caption on one of the other two photos) from 2012. The title of the exhibition is an indication of the author's uncompromising artistic stance, in which certain topics or forms of expression are not renounced for the sake of general approval, that is, with the aim of (wider) likeability. The retrospective exhibition of her artistic oeuvre features a wide and varied selection of works, which consist of several loosely defined – not necessarily chronologically uniform – units. Works on paper of various formats in different techniques predominate. The abstract expression and collage are close to the artist, and at the exhibition we can already see the aforementioned photographic work, art equipment of lesbian zines and the artist's first short film (Where Do Us Lesbians Go When We Get Old?
One of the exhibited sections is comprised of works that are created in dialogue with the written work – either poetry or short prose of female writers and poets who are close to the artist. Formally speaking, they move in the vicinity of the abstract with hints at the world of objects and occasional interventions in the collage technique. The oldest exhibited work from this section is the painting titled Squeaking under Feet
(2005), which was inspired by the collection of short stories by Prešeren Foundation laureate, Suzana Tratnik, entitled Sub-Zero
(ŠKUC, Lambda series, 1995). Another work is a pair of white paintings Who Has Other Worries
(2016), whereby one painting is completely abstract and the other alludes to the urban environment. The works are titled after the book Who Has Other Worries
(ŠKUC,Vizibilija series, 2014) by contemporary poet, essayist and composer Nina Dragičević. This group of works includes also a series of six paintings: Your Covers Again and Again
(2023), which is her most recent work at the exhibition. The artist created them in dialogue with the poems of the young artist, Ana Resnik.
The second set of works consists of abstract works that function as their own stories, accessible only to the artist or a narrow circle of people, or are primarily focused on painting proportions. The more narrative ones, as emphasized by their titles, include: No More Words I Have for You (
2022–2023) thematizes the ending of an intimate partner relationship, Vaginal Labyrinth
(She was telling me about arithmetic. But I have always preferred geometry
., 2012) outlines the relationship of three persons, while the painting of smaller dimensions, Ego
(2008), depicts artist's joy at the fact that a specific person exists. This set also includes the following paintings: Night Pulsating
(2014) and Cut
(2010). The latter two, with their titles, highlight thinking about social structures, social stratification and the importance of community, whereas, particularly with the work Untitled
(2018), the artist leans towards the absolute abstract. A smaller part of completely abstract paintings (and collages) within Andreja Gomišček's oeuvre deals primarily with compositional proportions.
These will also be on display in the Channel Zero Gallery during the 30th anniversary of AKC Metelkova mesto. In the exhibition 6 × Collage
, Andreja Gomišček will present her smallest works. These are works that seemingly deal primarily with fine art proportions, but, according to the author, they nevertheless present 'an imaginative search for revolt'.
A separate unit includes three works, namely: Pissing
(2008) and Dead Meat
(2008). They were exhibited at the solo exhibition titled Det´s d uej aha aha aj lajk it
(Monokel Club, 2008) and are actually 'interactive collages'. Each picture confronts the viewer with its content through a mirror. The latter enables the viewer a peculiar fusion with the depicted body and, as a result, triggers feelings of ease or discomfort due to sexual practices in which they found themselves.
In some of her works, Andreja Gomišček more clearly discusses social issues related to the lesbian community and beyond. Two of the works in question have been more publicly exposed. The painting I Want More Hard Lesbian Core
from 2008 (Feminist Art In Slovenia
, P74, 2010) is a self-explanatory and clear statement through skilful and meaningful word-play. The collage that later became a graffiti, Homo Assimilation Is Voluntary Castration
(2013), also makes a stark statement. In 2015, the author wore it as a billboard at the Pride Parade; it was her response to the possible Gay-Straight heteronormative alliances that would accept the LGBTIQ+ population under certain conditions of behaviour.
At this point, we can highlight two more recent works: the video Where Do Us Lesbians Go When We Get Old?
(2023) and a series of three collages Handicapped Lesbian Body
(2021). Like many of the artist's works, these two oscillate between the personal, the socially specific and the common (often encompassing all at once). With the short film Where Do Us Lesbians Go When We Get Old?
(2023), the artist explores issues related to ageing – making dignified old age possible, encouraging reflection on alternative environments more suitable for elderly women from the margins of society.
The series Handicapped Lesbian Body
(2021), meanwhile, can be interpreted in light of her employment at YHD – Society for the theory and culture of handicap. Although it is a personally confessional work, it addresses a wider issue. On three collages of larger dimensions, we read fragments of thoughts from poetry, theoretical texts, various (striking) statements in juxtaposition with the author's own medical results, which surround the image of a wheelchair or a person on it. In one of the collages, for instance, we read three times: 'Behind every lesbian identity, there is a rebellion.' and under it: 'Every lesbian kiss provokes the norm'.
Both works have a strong effect on the viewer, stimulate reflection and raise awareness. Although it is possible to interpret them through the prism of broader social questions, in a narrower sense, they touch upon the topics of lesbianism and lesbian community. With the video, the author asks herself a question: 'Where Do Us Lesbians Go When We Get Old?', which can be read also as a commentary on the changes within the lesbian scene itself. The latter is, like all scenes, subjected to changes over time and often a withdrawal of a certain part or a change of the status of once active actors into less active or completely inactive ones.
For the artist, visual language is a flexible means, with the help of which she expresses her (lesbian) identity and advocates important values, such as: pluralism of truths, tolerance for subjective perception of truth and desire to create an open, non-hierarchical social space. The defence of those challenges mainstream normative discourses that, through their dominant stance, encourage re-traditionalisation of relationships and roles and oust the minorities. In this context, the unrelenting attitude of the author shows itself more clearly, who, through consistent positioning within her own community, declaratively takes the side of the LGBTQ+ population, which cannot be taken for granted and is not a rule. That is, according to Tatiana Greif: 'In modern times, we have a number of homoerotic artists, whose sexual orientation is steadily disappearing from biographies. Censorship of identity is not something that can be consigned to the dustbin of history. Simultaneously, self-denial of identity and internalization of homophobia appear among many engaged gay artists.'
The artist's conscious decision to define herself obstinately as a lesbian artist is the golden thread of her creative activity, which is also emphasized with the title of the exhibition Calculations? I Never Do.
The artist thus does not wonder whether being a lesbian is only a part of her identity as an artist and how this positioning will affect her career path, neither does she calculate whether it is worth thinking about how her works will be accepted by a wider society. Rather, she just is, creates without self-censorship and thereby raises public consciousness about the existence of LGBTIQ+ population. Andreja Gomišček resolutely starts from her own subjective position in the sense of the feminist slogan 'personal is political'. Regardless of our individual characteristics and personal circumstances, her works direct us towards questions, such as: how do our society and country take care of persons who do not fit into stereotypical categories? She is interested in whether definitions that allow for decent ageing (the topic she tackles in the short film Where Do Us Lesbians Go When We Get Old?
) are made only on the basis of heteronormative evaluations. Is it possible to count on the help of governmental social structures if we determine our lives with the help of values that resist patriarchal categories? What can we who do not have traditionally arranged family relations in this regard actually count on?
T. Greif Teroristi ulice: lezbična in gejevska umetnost kot aktivizem,
p. 33, in: Maska 101-102 (2006).
Anabel Černohorski, Sebastian Krawczyk, Ana Grobler.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
This year, AKC Metelkova mesto is celebrating its round, thirtieth anniversary since the occupation of the empty military barracks in 1993. What meaning does Metelkova space have for you? How have your relationship and connection to it been changing over the years? Do you, perhaps, remember your first contact with Metelkova? In which spaces, initiatives or collective collaborations have you been involved? What was, or still is, your role in them?
For me, Metelkova is a space of independent and creative thinking and, as a result, action. A space that was supposed to be immune to segregation. What has changed over the years is that I visit the spaces less frequently, although I still follow activities there and I am still active – I paint – so this has not changed.
In 1996 (as I enrolled into my studies), I came to Metelkova, to the lesbian Club Monokel. This was my first more intentional/planned 'visit', as I'd heard a lot about the club and I just simply had to be there. For me, it represented a space where I could start to work as an artist and, of course, also to connect and get to know the importance of the space, community etc., and, nonetheless, my role in it.
I mainly participated in the Club Monokel, wrote for the fanzine Lesbo (Škuc – LL), DJed (the Monokel club led by lesbian DJs; DJ Kamasutra, DJ Katka and DJ Ganca), I was a volunteer at the International Feminist and Queer Festival Red Dawns for a year, and today I work here (I am employed as a co-ordinator at the YHD – Association for the theory and culture of handicap); I am involved in the cooperation of the SOT 24.5 club in Metelkova, which has had an influence on my thinking about the body from the perspective of disability, the intertwinement of lesbianism and disability, questioning the margin.
Since 2018, with an interim break, I have been an active member of the Lesbian Quarter collective, which was formed in 2012; I curate the content of the club SOT 24,5 as well as still participate at the exhibitions, to mention, for example, the last two: exhibition in the Škuc Gallery – the Lesbian Quarter festival (2020) and in the City Gallery – Let It Be Queer!
Did Metelkova have an influence on your work, both in the activist and artistic sense, and to what extend is it a combination of the two? Do you feel a part of Metelkova? If yes, in what sense: artistic? Ideological? Or in some other way?
It definitely had an influence on me, activistically and artistically speaking, but both, where, of course, there is a combination of one and the other, was deepened with my activities within the Club Monokel. Actually, for several years, there has been another special space at Metelkova, that is, Lesbian Library (the only one in Slovenia) at Metelkova 6 Street, which is part of the Škuc-LL section. Regarding the intertwining of the activist and artistic, the theoretical basis is also very important to me, it is a frequent source for my work.
Yes, you could say that I feel a part of Metelkova in terms of my own artistic engagement and ideology.
How long have you been actively presenting your artistic production and what motivated you to become active in this field? How hard is it to get a creative space? Have you ever thought about finding an art studio? Have you ever been focused on acquiring a studio at Metelkova? That is, despite the fact that you have been involved in the activities of AKC Metelkova, both in the artistic and organizational sense, as well as in terms of production and content, since your twenties, you do not have a studio here. Since Metelkova, also artistically speaking, is wider than its mere physical space, we, in the Alkatraz Gallery, at the 30th anniversary, thought it important to draw attention also this aspect of the creativity of artists whose art is constantly present at Metelkova, regardless of the fact that they do not have a working space here, and who are also Metelkova's (frequently overlooked) part.
I have been actively presenting my artistic production for almost 30 years. Maybe the first contact started right at home, where I was surrounded by piles of books and information from my parents (mother was an art historian, father is an architect), who introduced me to the world of art as an equally important social segment. My desire to draw and later paint thus formed a way of expression that was close to me and, at the same time, allowed me to share my observations – social inequalities and how and what I can add. As a lesbian, I was very interested in my positioning within society. This has been my modus operandi
to this day.
A creative space is really hard to come by. Many times, I made manoeuvring space in my apartment (depending on the budget – how big or small the apartment was, how big or small the creative space was; sometimes the wall was also the kitchen door...). Then I rented garages, where the problem was that there was no heating in the winter, so it was simply too cold to work. I was also thinking about the art studio. I somehow did not think about acquiring it at Metelkova, I always thought that everything is already let out. Currently, my studio is right at home, the budget allows me to adapt the space at least partially to my artistic needs.
What are the key issues that you address in your work and which interests most representatively characterize your work or individual sections within your oeuvre? Is such a generalization even possible or does the focus of your exploration change over time?
The key issues are questions of the homo scene – mainly lesbian, sexual practices, disability, and all along also ageing within the community, more representatively this year with a short film – Where Do Us Lesbians Go When We Get Old?
There is also a section dealing with the form itself, composition, but is often intertwined with the aforementioned questions. Thus, the focus stays somehow the same, but the expression/narration may differ.
You create in various media, but it seems that painting is especially close to you. Where does your connection with painting stem from, considering the fact that you graduated in sociology of culture and Croatian, Serbian and Macedonian languages?
Yes, painting is particularly close to me, ever since my early childhood, as I already mentioned, while studying sociology of culture and Croatian, Serbian and Macedonian languages actually gave me a wider social context and additional possible vocabulary of largely overlooked languages. I really like visual-verbal collaborations.
To what extent do you think it's important that the content which you communicate with your works to the viewers is conveyed in a clear way? Does it depend on an individual work, or are some works more oriented towards socially engaged topics, and others more personally confessional and semantically more open?
I don't think it's necessary that content is always clearly conveyed. Sometimes the viewpoints can be broader and I allow for different interpretations, which can surprise even me when someone talks to me about my work. Sometimes it's actually about finding composition, balance. But when my intentions are very clear, then they are recognized as such.
What does each medium enable you to do? How do you decide which medium of expression is more suitable for which content? What motivates you to create?
It's a matter of terminology, perhaps more in the sense of continuity, which, for instance, I achieve more in a video performance. It also depends on the subject of focus, on what I would like to say and how. What motives me to create are various gaps, incompleteness – for example, intentional omissions of facts about lesbian artists or about the so-called irrelevance of emphasizing this by heteronormative gaze, possible determinacies.
This is your first retrospective exhibition (If we are not mistaken) and a rare opportunity to exhibit your work from different creative phases in the same space. In the process of searching and collecting your past works, did you come across insights or situations that surprised you? In what way?
Indeed, this is my first retrospective exhibition. Also, some works have become foreign to me – I would say things in a different way, add some things. But some of them are still as sharp as I wanted back then and I wouldn't change a thing. Overall, I'm satisfied.
In your work, you discuss many important issues, for instance, recently you created a video Where Do Us Lesbians Go When We Get Old? (2023). In it, you tackle an important social issue of ageing; in fact, it is also thinking about improving conditions for decent living of the elderly from the margins of society. Have you, perhaps, done research about successful practices in the field of alternative elderly homes, residential communities or something similar abroad?
What kind of a challenge did the medium or format – video – present to you? It is a larger project that involved more people? What surprised you in a positive way and what may have turned out to be a bigger challenge than you imagined?
What were the reactions after screenings? Did the work stimulate further discussion?
Do you remember an interesting response, related also to some of your older works, that particularly stuck in your memory or touched you in some other way?
I didn't do any research. I invited a few older lesbians to participate, but only two of them responded. On the basis of posed questions, I wanted to get a broader outline of how they live, what social margins mean and what is it like inside the lesbian community.
The challenge was to learn to handle camera and microphone, to discern what is good and what isn't. Based on the written synopsis, I had scenes in my head and where I would shoot them. I was interested in, for instance, whether I can say something also with details, so that the person is not always the focus. The non-responsiveness of those invited to the recording turned out to be a bigger challenge, this secrecy made me a little bit sad. But I was pleasantly surprised that I could still show what I wanted, although the shots had to be changed a great deal. And, perhaps, also the length – it is a short film, long 10 minutes, but in the beginning, it was almost a feature film, long 40 minutes. I found this challenge, this shortening of the film, quite humorous.
The responses were good and discussions showed that this topic is urgent and that it is important to talk about it, to shed light on it.
Regarding the film and its content, speaking about ageing, I remember that someone after the film asked me a question, but I could not understand it despite the hearing aid. I only heard it when he approached. It all came together wonderfully.
You are currently preparing a series of paintings (or illustrations) in relation to poetry. You are no stranger to such collaborations. Can you say more about the connection between fine art and poetry or written word? In some artworks, you also use short texts, phrases or statements. Why do you think this is important?
The paintings were created on the basis of Ana Resnik's poetry, which the poet chose and I painted them. I think that the word and the image are very connected, as, nonetheless, fine art creation itself is a thought process, at least for me. I can also sketch some written things visually pretty quickly.
But when it comes only to my works – they are more in the form of slogans, for example 'I want more hard lesbian core' or 'Homo assimilation is voluntary castration' and I think they are important, because they emphasize what is frequently deliberately overheard. They are short, but sharp and clear, without faked ignorance. The slogan ‘Homo assimilation … was first a collage and then a graffiti. In 2015, I think, when I also wore it at the Pride Parade, it was written on paper and stuck on my belt like a poster – which means that everyone who walked behind me could read it. It was my response to inclusive homo/hetero connections that suggest a certain behaviour on the basis of which LGBTIQ+ will nevertheless be accepted into the hetero structure. Thereby, such consent is unacceptable and if it is, it is a voluntary castration.
In 2014, as part of the International Feminist and Queer Festival Red Dawns, we organized the exhibition Through Her Eyes: The Flashes of Lesbian-Feminist Production, which featured numerous artworks with a lesbian-feminist note. At that time, we wrote in the accompanying text that the fact that this is the first major exhibition on the mentioned topic proves how overlooked and marginal lesbian-feminist content is in the public eye. Do you think that almost 10 years later, this topic is more visible and accepted?
I think visibility and acceptance are more apparent than real. Perhaps, in 2021, a greater breakthrough happened with the group exhibition Let It Be Queer
! in the City Gallery. In recent years, as part of the Pride Parade, there have been a few LGBTQ+ exhibitions (in Pritličje, City Hall – atrium). But in other spaces, there has not yet been an explicitly gay/lesbian exhibition.
The exhibition Through Her Eyes was created at the initiative of Jasna Klančišar, Teja Oblak (Lesbian-Feminist University), Tadeja Pirih (Lesbian-Feminist University), Alenka Spacal and you. You also participated in it as an artist. You exhibited a series of photographs entitled My Face Is Blazing from 2012. We wrote about it that 'it attracts attention like a magnet with sincere content and images, hints at the intransigence of the author's lesbian engagement, and, at the same time, triggers feelings that cannot be easily analysed and can be the subject of many future reflections.' What do you think about what has been written today, and would you add or change anything, when you focus on your creative opus so far?
I wouldn't change a thing. I agree with every word and it summarizes my work nicely.
You participated in numerous lesbian and feminist festivals both in Slovenia and abroad. What are your observations – what are the similarities and what could be specific for the Slovenian area? Do you think that AKC Metelkova mesto with its initiatives contributed to the recognition and visibility of the topic?
A similarity could be lack of exhibition spaces with lesbian/feminist subject matter, but there is certainly no lack of female authors – this is also a similarity. I don't see that there would be anything explicitly specific about the Slovene area. Metelkova definitely made a contribution to that, but it could do more.
/ For the end :) / According to you, in what direction should Metelkova develop? And what would you wish AKC Metelkova mesto at its anniversary?
To keep developing its theoretical and practical creativity and maintain its autonomy. To AKC Metelkova mesto I wish all the best for the next 30 years to come and more ...
Andreja Gomišček (1976) graduated in sociology of culture and Croatian, Serbian and Macedonian languages at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana.
Curated by: Anabel Černohorski, Sebastian Krawczyk, Ana Grobler
Translation to English language: Ana Makuc
Photography by: Nada Žgank
Design of the anniversary poster: Tina Drčar
Project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and City Council Ljubljana.
She participated in solo and group exhibitions, at the festivals Red Dawns (Ljubljana), The City of Women (Ljubljana), FemFest (Zagreb), Lesbian Quarter (Ljubljana) and at the group exhibition in Madrid and Rome. Her most important group exhibitions include: Women Are Coming! Exhibition of Contemporary Feminist Art from Slovenia (10th International Feminist and Queer Festival Red Dawns), SCCA Project Room, Ljubljana, 5 March—8 March 2009); Feminist Art in Slovenia (P74 Gallery, Ljubljana, 18 May—20 June 2010); Through Her Eyes. Flashes of a Lesbian-Feminist Production (15 th International Feminist and Queer Festivall Red Dawns), Alkatraz Gallery, Ljubljana, 6 March—18 March 2014); Let It Be Queer! LGBTIQ + Exhibition, Ljubljana City Gallery, Ljubljana, 16 September—21 November 2021). In 2015, the ŠKUC publishing house (Lambda collection) published an anthology of European lesbian poetry (I Follow Her Without Words. Contemporary European Lesbian Poetry), on the cover of which is a reproduction of the author’s work Torso (2015, 90 × 100 cm, acrylic and collage on canvas).
In her works, she problematizes social issues through the prism of lesbian and feminist events (visibility and ever new re-positioning, lesbianism as an identity that is a revolt against patriarchal culture). In this way, she places actual segment of the existing space in her works, often also by connecting images and words. She lives and works in Ljubljana.