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Milena Kosec and Anja Šmajdek / Gifts – giving and receiving

05 May 2010 > 21 May 2010 Travelling exhibition and the process of giving and receiving gifts.
Cordially invited to the opening of the exhibition on Wednesday, 5th May, 2010 at 7p.m., and a discussion Gift and Giving on Monday, 17th May at 6p.m.

Milena Kosec is inviting the citizens of Ljubljana as well as passers-by to actively participate at the exhibition by giving away unwanted gifts you have received, but do not want or need them, or do not want to keep them at home, but would like to actively participate in an art process, creating this exhibition. You can either donate or exchange your presents for the already exhibited ones, or simply take away from the exhibition the ones you want.

Anja Šmajdek is inviting you to take away a piece of the statue Desetnica (The Tenth Female Child). The statue has been conceived as to resemble the bread, of which a slice concealing a ring is given to The Tenth Female Child in the family – the present being the sake for her to leave home. It is a work of art interactively created with the audience.

The project has been conceived as an exhibition travelling around Slovenia, Europe and the Mediterranean. The very first gift-collecting took place at the ŠKUC Gallery in April 2008, in Ljubljana, and the first exchange at the Simulaker Gallery in Novo mesto, followed by the Art Salon in Celje. The key role is played by spectators, co-creating the artistic process and the work of art with their active participation in the art process. The exhibition consists of two equally important parts. With her project, Milena Kosec puts the emphasis on the immaterial, whilst Anja Šmajdek covers the material aspect of the exhibition with her sculpture.

With her project Gifts Milena Kosec invites people to make a contribution to the exhibition by donating the gifts they have received, but don’t need or want any more, or do not wish to keep at home. They are invited to exchange their presents with the already exhibited ones, just add their own to the exhibition, or decide to just take an exhibited gift home. On the opening day the author will be personally receiving, exchanging and giving presents. After each exhibition closure the collected – always varied and very different gifts - demand a new constitutional concept, depending on the exhibition’s site itself, but always requiring the creation of the feeling of superfluity. This part of the exhibition questions present-giving for its own sake. We all wish to receive gifts. But what is, nowadays, really worth wishing for; what do we really need; what can we really give to someone without creating a burden for the recipient? Just like philosophy has come to a conclusion that it is more important to give answers to questions of the current era than to look for the answers to eternal questions, in the same way the opinion of Milena Kosec is that art has to approach people in their daily life, providing a better insight into their own world, re-establishing their own sensibility for it. For her, art operates at a personal level. The present exhibition puts Milena Kosec, a career contemporary artist, in her current creational period denounces any deliberate material creation, speaking in favour of the immaterial production, in a paradoxical situation. Even though her work is entirely immaterial, she is still drowning in the materiality of the pile of presents as well as in the material required for the realization of the whole project. This reflects the whole schizophrenia of the current era, producing ever new and entirely material devices for the accelerated expansion into the virtual, and does not, therefore, allow us to break free.

With her project Desetnica (The 10th Daughter in the Family) from 1995 Anja Šmajdek deals with  present-giving and travelling from one gallery to another from a different point of view. According to the folk tradition the 10th child in a family is given a slice of bread with a ring concealed in it as an indication that he or she is to leave home. The statue of the same name and human size, is conceived in such a way that the spectators create it by taking the matter away. By chipping pieces of the sculpture off, the spectators give a new form to the sculpture, while they are given a piece of the sculpture they take away. Until now it’s been notched from the numerous interventions of spectators. There are transparent plastic bags attached to the sculpture of a construction foam – purpen, resembling a bread dumpling, inviting the spectators to chip off a piece of the sculpture, put it in the bag and take it home. The plastic bags from the installations of Desetnica until now, framed and hung on the wall together with the map show its pilgrimages from one gallery to another until now. Anja Šmajdek initiates the process from the matter, that will, in the process of its taking away disappear and in the end the only thing left will be the awareness of the process and its documentation. Even though both authors spin in the duality of materiality – immateriality with their works, the approach of Anja Šmajdek proves to be a diametrical opposite to the approach of Milena Kosec, stemming from an immaterial process culminating in abundance of the received gifts – the material. Desetnica refers to the basic theme of the exhibition, opening the now already classic question of artefact and its value, extended over the whole exhibition.

The exhibition as a whole establishes social questions of mutual present-giving and hospitability in the current society on the one hand, and, on the other hand the questions regarding donating of art to the society, the status of the author and the art work, location of the art work and the role of the institution of a gallery. The question of the kind of mutual artists’ and art works’ influence also arises due to the joint exhibiting of two authors. Co-operation extends the concept of the exhibition by the view of the other party making up new meanings and a new wholeness, while the travelling of the exhibition adds new dimensions and context to it.

More on

The discussion GIFT and GIVING took place on 17.5.2010. in Alkatraz gallery. More on

Photos: Jasmina Klančar

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