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When two artists decide to exhibit together, there is usually some ‘deeper’ reason to it, conceptual, emotional, productional or promotional. A kind of accord is expected between their works, which will lead towards an insight into an ‘integrity’ or, at least, towards a promise of a real, fictional or promised ‘harmony’ of the works in an exhibition. Integrity and harmony axe expected in a maelstrom of formal parameters, similarity or complementarity of pieces which become works. When a visitor, however, with intention or by chance, enters the exhibition of Alen Ožbolt and Žiga Kariž in the Gallery ŠKUC he will unexpectedly be facing very different works in both formal and phenomenological sense. He will have an impression that he entered ‘micro-worlds’ which visually have very little in common. He will pass through attentively and devotedly manually shaped spaces with objects of Alen Ožbolt which, within a located particularity of the imaginary and the symbolic, offer themselves as traces of an artist’s gesture which gets realized through a dynamic relation of gaze and hand in a basic visuality of material/substance. He will then pass through spaces designed and selected with tactical preciseness, with objects and their relations of Žiga Kariž, which, within their located universalism of the imaginary and the symbolic, offer traces of an artist’s conceptualizations and simulations which get realized through dynamic relations of adopting and locating a symbolically situated material. To make it more simple, Ožbolt’s spaces seem to bring us back to ‘primary’ powers of visual (plastic, pictorial) shaped material, and Kariž’s spaces seem to bring us into ‘word game’ of readymade tactics of locating and relocating objects of culture. And it is only then, in a dilemma of a gaze striving to see their worlds of difference, that a discovery of a challenge or of a conflict of differences commences. (Ožbolt’s and Kariž’s spaces, no matter how they seem and therefore are different, may have one common base in regard to visual incomparability and conceptual encounters. In fact, each of them resolves a specific problem of ‘shapeable material’ which precedes the en-trance of a signifier into a sign (Ožbolt) i.e. ‘usability objectiveness’ (Kariž) which comes after a consumption of sign or an evocation of a consumption of sign. However, on a secondary plane, behind primary concepts of realization of an artwork, an important ‘conceptual similarity’ emerges: both authors provoke layers/strata of meaning or erased traces which lay beneath each particular piece or an installation of a piece.

Žiga Kariž initiates questions and sensory events on traces and potentialities of ‘public opinion’ in arts and culture. He sets the referential world of existing objects in relation to himself. He is there between images which construct the moment of his, followed by the moment of visitor’s Self. Kariž performed two separate installations, but installations which operate with the traces from history of high and popular aft of the XX century. In the first installation IT’S SO SIMPLE AND THAT’S THE WAY I LIKE IT, a space of usage, simulation of revealing of art traces is invoked. The artist has realized an American room or, more precisely, a New York room-stage. Objects of a fancy New York daily life are scattered all over that room-stage, together with the objects from the XX century high act – from constructivist books and Duchampian objects, to photographs and copies of ‘masterpieces’ of contemporary act, or traces of relaxed forms of living within contemporaneity. This loom is one of such rooms from a maelstrom of fictionalization of actualities offered for instance by a TV serial Sex and the City or by prose constructions of Kathy Acker (Don Quixote, 1986), Paul Austen (The New York Trilogy, 1990) of Don DeLillo (Cosmopolis, 2003). In the maps of living, a seeming disorder indexes and therefore advocates a cool reality, i.e. its phantasmic representatives of appearance, interruption, please, fear of death and fast consumption. As if an early Deleuzian parole is being demonstrated by this work; “Every depth is an illusion of surface”. The realization of the installation is performed with fake readymades.

The readymades are fake because the artist performs an object which looks like an adopted item. But the seemingly adopted object is a simulacrum of a certain historical and cultural object (book, magazine, artwork). It confronts us thus with a ‘horror of pleasure’ or a ‘pleasure of horror’ of a post-Duchampian artist who cannot avoid entering an existential chaos of relations between a real and a simulated object in a place which is covered by the phantasm of the world of great art and great consumption, i.e. a promised or desired delirious New York before the 11th of September. Let’s not forget that pre-September-11th New York was a ‘city’ which transposed great European, though always marginal and alternative, avant-garde practices into an atmosphere (Arthur C. Danto) or an aura (Walter Benjamin) of mass ecstatic consumption in the époque of design. For Kariž, however, design is not a method of achieving an artwork, but a medium of problematizing messages within contemporaneity.

In Kariž’s other installation A VIDEO CLUB (after ROOCHENKO) a transfigured replica is per-formed of a famous Rodchenko’s Club ouvrier, made for the Exposition des rates décoratifs in Paris 1925. The ‘room’ is furnished in the manner of Rodchenko’s work, but instead of a reading-room with revolutionary press, it is set as a video club for watching Hollywood B and C production movies. Three transfiguring interventions were performed: (i) an utopian space of constructivism – oriented towards the working sion or decorate an actually impossible or actu-ally absent object small a. Therefore Žiga Kariž chooses as his text for this exhibition not a manifesto, nor a statement, and also not an auto-poetical essay, but a collection of classified fragments which refer to the narratives of the films exhibited in his para-Rodchenko video club. A chaos of verbal fragmentary narratives does not explain art, culture or society to which the artist refers; it pushes, instead, the ‘one’ of an artwork towards a potential multiplicity, towards a multitudity which falls out of artistic, cultural or social norms.

Both installations of Žiga Kariž IT’S SO SIMPLE AND THAT’S THE WAY I LIKE IT and A VIDEO CLUB (after RODCHENKO) are the designed potential worlds of actuality which displays its usage of the past and anticipates future transformations between an object, space and a screen. Nothing is certain anymore, though it seams so familiar.

A joint exhibition of Alen Ožbolt and Žiga Kariž Love is a Battlefield / Ljubezen je bojno polje points to a provocative field of interrelations of two different artistic practices. Their works are at first sight different and incomparable: Ožbolt works with the principle of shaping and Kariž with the principle of using. However, any sensory or conceptual involvement in the interrelation between their works leads us towards a more complex map of possibilities. By this exhibition they have mapped conceptual homologies and sensory hiatuses. They got confronted in a battlefield of love between an idea and a form, i.e. between a concept and an object, i.e. absence and presence of function. The question of love is the question of unsolvable relation of one and two where neither ‘one’ nor ‘two’ are simply given and present. Within the multiple modes of ‘battle’, Ožbolt and Kariž offer possibilities for realization of art. Art is, however, not exhibiting objects, but performing a visible and reflexive battle of relations of ‘one’ and ‘two’.

Miško Šuvaković

(excerpts from text from LOVE IS A BATTLE-FIELD catalogue, ŠKUC Gallery, Ljubljana, 2004)