Žiga Kariž: La mariée fuck yeah

What is the place of the avant-garde, with its loud, seemingly nonsensical provocations, its utopian drive, lust for destruction, construction, speed and transcending the visual and rational, in the 21st century? The major works of Futurism, Constructivism, Dadaism and a host of other clearly classified and defined -isms have long since migrated into museums and books, onto t-shirts, coffee cups and posters. The experiment failed. Today the avant-garde is a fetish; it’s a commodity that is appealing, interesting and just unusual enough. Something one would happily wear; something that will surely attract.
One of the conceptual fundaments of the installation La mariée shit yeah is the appropriation and perception of avant-gardes in the 21st century – both in the world of art and in a broader society. Kariž, in a gesture quite characteristic for him, uses clichés from popular culture and history of art to filter his personal experience. Kariž grabs one of the most intriguing, inaccessible and confusing works from Duchamp’s opus and throws it into the 21st century. He spills sweet Milka purple color over it, almost completely obscures it and stretches it into a spatial installation. His appropriation is not just a collection of clear and unambiguous visual quotes; it is a net of obscure associative links that connect both works and form the core of Kariž’s seemingly hermetic microcosmos.
The latter is not completely closed to the attentive viewer. Perhaps the most obvious link between the two works is the title of Kariž’s exhibition – La mariée fuck yeah partly reproduces Duchamp’s title (La mariée miss à nu par ses célibataires, même) and joins it with the somewhat worn-out phrase “fuck yeah”. This gives it a certain punk charm but at the same time trivializes it and positions it in a dialogue with the violent and colorful aesthetic of the exhibition, which bombards the viewer with a wide array of images that range from pornography, beer bottles and chocolate to phallic hand-held blenders and user manuals for kitchen appliances. In his new work Kariž further develops the ideas that were formed in his previous painting cycles – particularly the treatment of sexuality, which looses all connotations of calming bodily presence and warmth. It becomes cold and unpleasant; characterized by a feeling of pornography devoid of all joy – a cheap plastic substitute wrapped in “happy” colors and sunsets. The sexual frustration is further underlined by hints of castration – a number of blades and blenders, a hand in user manuals, which constantly creeps towards danger.
The connection between Kariž and the work of the “old master” lies in the that, which remained the same over the span of almost 100 years. The frustrating revolution of uniform, empty and emptied males around the lustful female – alluring and elusive, except to the penetrating gaze. At first glance, Kariž’s project, much like the work that he is referring to, looks absurdly illogical and somewhat improper, but still leaves enough openings for the careful viewer to try and break into the work and grab the slippery message.

Žiga Dobnikar

(from the press release for Žiga Kariž: La mariée fuck yeah exhibition, Ganes Pratt Gallery, Ljubljana, 2012)