25.02.2011. - 03.04.2011.

Mirabilia

Yoko Fukushima, Silvio Vujičić, Tatjana Vukelić

Mirabilia is the name of this year’s first exhibition dedicated to the relationship between design and art. At the beginning of the modern era, this Latin word denoted phenomena that were difficult to attribute to one of the two general categories: to the natural, God-made world or to the world created by human activity.We believe that in this exhibition the works of Silvio Vujičić, Yoko Fukushima and Tatjana Vukelić have the same kind of hybrid status. In their works, the dilemma is only transferred from the ontological categories of animate and inanimate, Godly and human, to the area of design, which, on the other hand, moved from the traditional position of designing clothes to designing humans. However, in the contemporary world of biopolitics, the works of these artists should not be viewed as moral warnings. Their bio-design only marginally touches upon the ethical aspect of human culture. Although the first reaction to these works may best be represented with the question: Where is the limit to exploiting and cultivating nature?, the general impression of the exhibition is closer to fantasy than to ecology. In other words, there is more than serious social questions in this exhibition; some transparent intimacy, awkward irony, bizarre beauty and irresponsible play(K.Š.)...

Current focus of the rational order shaping Enlightenment „museum culture“ has served to obscure, however, the existence of meaningful wunderkammer arrangements prior to the advent of scientifically sequenced works. Contaminated by crowd-pleasing spectacle, these collections resembled the razzmatazz natural philosophy taught by itinerant lecturers. Hence the cabinet of curiosities, too, existed ambiguously in between entertainment, performance, and practical instruction. (1)

Content of the Cabinets of Wonders, forerunners of modern museums which were popular in aristocratic circles during the 16th and 17th century, was usually based on three categories of objects: naturalia (natural objects), artificialia (man-made objects) and mirabilia (fantastic, unclassifiable objects). It is this last category, located in the vague, undetermined semantic field between the human and the natural, which has given the cabinets the stigma of bizarre and mystical, morbid, or even monstrous.

 On the other hand, showing a compressed variety of different objects in one place, cabinets served as a sort of a microcosm. Such an experience offered the observer a chance for developingunrestrained imagination, and encouraged the creation of free associations and newmeanings. The popularity of the Cabinet of Wonderswas relatively short-lived: soon the spirit ofthe Enlightenment set out for an unstoppable systematization of the world. This became clearlyvisible through the spatial organization of museum collections, where naturalia (natural history museums) is clear and strictly separated from artificialia (art history museums), whereby the mystical inter-category of mirabilia remains almost completely forgotten. (2)

 The field of work of the three artists gathered at the exhibition can be interpreted as dealingwith a tension between these two opposites. On the one hand, each of the artists directly tackles the issue of nature and uses it in their work as either a motive or a medium (moss, skin, breast milk, nails, fish, etc). On the other hand, the artists will deal with issues traditionally placed in the field of art and philosophy: Silvio Vujicic’s work examines the usual perception of colour, Yoko Fukushima’s objects are associated with sexual intimacy, while TatjanaVukelic deals with the contemporary need for construction and modification of human identity. It might be that our deeply rooted encyclopaedic belief in ratio and the abjection of natural mutation causes discomfort and aversion we feel while watchingan advertisement for artificial human skin, fish adorned with colourful beads or a dress made out of moss. 

 Despite the rapid development of all scientific disciplines, the possibility of a mystical and morbid, which the Renaissance mind was capable to perceive as real, includingit into the picture of the world and namingit mirabilia within its cabinet, is still latent even today. Vujicic’s traumatic colour laboratory reminds of this. The modern consumerof the "united colours of Benetton" or colourful palette of Murtic’s American impressions is being faced with a "painful" petrifaction of flowers in the process of a natural transformation - from the crushed rock to shades of pure colour. (3) The possibility of producing artificial organs for commercial purposes does not sound impossible anymore. However, it seems thatTatjanaVukelic’s work reflects the morbid feeling we get at the thought of an actual realization of our wildest imagination (ever morepossible on the virtual level) on a real biological basis. The Frankensteinian shadow seems to rise relentlessly over every next step of biotechnology. The artistic treatment of intimate physical matter is what mainly concerns the artist Yoko Fukushima. Her works cause discomfort over the use of menstrual blood or breast milk as a medium for achievingan artistic and poetic quality, which also gives it the morbid aura of mirabilia. (Sanja Horvatinčić)

 

(1)    Barbara Maria Stafford, Artful Science: Enlightenment Entertainment and the Eclipse of Visual Education. Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1994, 218.

(2)    Still, the digital era has gone in new directions. Some contemporary theoreticians understand the vast amount of diverse nonhierarchical video and audio material on the Internet tools such as YouTube as a contemporary Cabinet of Curiosites. Robert Gehl, YouTube_As_Archive: who will curate this digital wunderkammer?" The International Journal of Cultural Studies 12.1: (43-60).

(3)    Vujicic's work can equally refer to any kind of contemporary alienation from the organic connection between men and nature (an indicative example are disorders and phenomena connected to contemporary western perception and consumption of food).