25.11.2009. - 25.12.2009.

Interzone : Economy

This is the last exhibition in this year's cycle dedicated to the influence of globalization on society. Each artist or artist group in this exhibition commented on the recent changes which have primarily occurred as a consequence of the global and liberal capitalist market and the ways in which it operates.
In their short animated film the Italian video-artist duo, known as Lemeh42 [1], make an ironic view of the business philosophy of Ikea and their global omnipresence, as well as of their practicality and economical approach to interior design.

Dmitry Strakovsky [2], on the other hand, in his performance at the opening of the exhibition makes a parody of the most powerful Asian corporations by combining the stereotype of Asian spirituality with the stereotype of Asian economic efficiency.

A Croatian duo Rosana Ratkovcic and Fedor Kritovac [3] will show the results of their study of Zagreb's and Croatian crafts tradition, which has, due to economic changes, undergone some considerable changes in the last twenty years.

Carlos Katastrofsky (aka Michael Kargl) [4], a member of Vienna group Cont3xt, is, on the other hand, focuses on the critique of corporation economy present on the Internet. By means of intervening into the source code of a certain Web site, he puts an emphasis on commercialization and monopolization of the Internet.

Here is the accompanying text of Nina Pisk:

This year’s exhibition programme in Galerija Galženica under the joint title Interzone was dedicated the influence of the economic globalization on society and its particular constituents. So far, the exhibitions have dealt with those aspects of globalizations that are usually overlooked when defining what makes up globalization. Most of the definitions emphasize the economical aspect of globalization as its main element, and in turn, in most cases it brings to mind big corporations. This exhibition shows works of artists and art groups that have touched upon this, perhaps most obvious, form of globalization. All the works subtly criticize, that is, ironize the globalizing process. As all the Interzone exhibitions, this exhibition offers works which refer to a whole range of phenomena, ranging from local to global.

In their work, two Croatian artists, Rosana Ratkovčić and Fedor Kritovac [3], have presented the results of their research of the situation in the crafts. Specifically, they looked into the problem of advertising crafts as opposed to big commercial advertisements, i.e. the complex layers of meaning this entails. Ratkovčić and Kritovac emphasize the importants of crafts and their advertising signboards, which can be said to be documents of Zagreb’s urban identity and which are, due to the process of economical globalization slowly disappearing from the city. There are many factors responsible for this, including the strict aesthetic specifications as, among others, defined by the municipal services. The authors hold that a kind of desemantization of the city is taking place, with the aim of creating a new aesthetic ideal stripped of real content and meaning, which is heralded by new wallscapes and billboards, the temporary advertising products in which a lot of funds and creative energy was invested, as opposed to the simple and unsightly crafts signs which, once put up, were to last for years. With digital interventions on the photographs on which the crafts (subversive) and commercial (mainstream) ads are placed within the same context, a new space opens up for critical questioning of society and the direction in which it is developing.

Lemeh 42 [1], an Italian pair of video artists, take a somewhat different route in their short animated film. They critically look upon the global presence of Ikea by using its well-known iconography. The simple animation accompanies, i.e. visualizes the nursery rhyme which, once in this context, becomes somewhat ironic. On the other hand, the simplicity and intelligibility of the animation itself allude to the philosophy of Ikea as a globally-present brand which aims at the economics, practicality, simplicity, as well as accessibility and functionality of its furniture. At this point, the irony of the video becomes even greater – Ikea bases its business on massive, cheap industrial production, while at the same time propagates care and protection of the environment.

With his performance Top 10 Asian Brands, Dmitry Strakovsky [2] deals with the specific situation in Asia. The artist’s work is embalmed with binary oppositions via which he parodies the biggest Asian corporations; he brings together the East and the spirituality so often associated with it, with the West and its obsession with material values. With his posture and way of articulating, i.e. chanting, the artist creates a religious atmosphere which reminds one of Buddhist rituals of devotion which include chanting specific verses or mantras. Here, however, the mantras are the names of big corporations. With his performance Strakovsky criticizes not only big corporations, but also the majority of Asian nations which have, despite their historic reputation for always being obsessed with their work, with the appearance of capitalism and big corporations become almost religious towards their work, which has, one might say, become their new religion.

Since its beginnings 40 years ago, when it was started as Arpanet, the Internet has undergone fundamental changes and is one of the many changes which were not spared by the influence of economic globalization. Carlos Katastrofsky [4] of the Vienna-based initiative Cont3xt.net critically approached that phenomenon in his work. His work deals with the problem of web-pages of big corporations. By intervening in the original code of a specific web-page, he points to the commercialization and monopolization of the Internet.
(Nina Pisk)


(1) http://lemeh42.indivia.net/
(2) http://www.shiftingplanes.org/
(3) http://www.hdlu.hr/2009/06/04/rosana-ratkovcic-fedor-kritovac-obrtni-spektakl/
(4) http://katastrofsky.cont3xt.net/home/