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The exhibition Avoiding eye contact is part of the ongoing project Shame on You! initiated by the Miroslav Kraljević Gallery, CELEIA – Center for Contemporary Arts from Celje and the Association for Culture and Art CRVENA from Sarajevo. The project provides a platform for artistic and theoretical study of the idea of shame as defined by specific political, economic and social contexts. Starting from the understanding of shame as a consequence conditioned by social and cultural actions whose experience is personal and/or collective within the private sphere, the following questions arise: which identities and practices are considered shameful and which structures or positions have the power to mark them as such? Can shame be understood as a symptom caused by a break with the established normative behavior, economic ideologies, political goals and forms of patriarchal dominance? Can the act of shaming function as a mechanism for maintaining the existing power relations and providing a means of social control?

Avoiding eye contact takes on the concept of shame through the works of Nicole Hewitt, Louie+Jesse, Ivana Pipal, Oliver Ressler and Chloé Turpin. The title of the exhibition is taken from a drawing by Ivana Pipal depicting a multitude of eyes, alluding to the constant exposure to the gaze of others as well as to the avoidance to look back. The Hungarian mythologist Károly Kerényi associates shame with observation since it presupposes both passivity and activity, being looked at and looking.1 The exhibition considers the way shame is condition by the gaze, focusing in particular on the public aspect of shame which is a consequence of dominant social patterns.

The body on display is the topic of whimsical drawings taken from Ivana Pipal‘s third book: Instructions for use (human body). Drawing from everyday social and personal situations, Pipal uses drawing and text to build a proposal for a system of habitation in the human body. The presented segments of her work are related to the concept of shame; for example, the drawing of a figure that is being observed through long pipes by neighbors’ curious eyes. In a way, it is the body that is ashamed, that is, it is the cause of our shame. To quote Giorgio Agamben: “Nudity is shameful when it is the obviousness of our Being, of its final intimacy. And the nudity of our body is not the nudity of a material thing that is antithetical to the spirit but the nudity of our entire Being, in all its plentitude and solidity, in its most brutal expression, of which one cannot not be aware.”2 In that sense the body is seen as a metaphor, as the spirit’s means of transport.

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Chloé Turpin also reflects on shame through the corporal, with an emphasis on gender. Her piece Mora alludes to a specific gender politics and fascination with the rejected. The artist associates the term mora from the Slavic tradition with “monstrous femininity” which she encounters in the drama Adventurer at the Door (1925) by Milan Begović. Turpin interprets Freud’s psychoanalytic theories and stages of hysteria through the character of the “Girl” whose mirror image “Agnes” is based on the widespread femme fatale stereotype. The dancer and performer Nikolina Komljenović embodies the “Girl” in the performance in three acts. At the beginning the performer embodies the conceptual archetype of the mora through improvisation, only to deconstruct the first act. At the end she assumes a physically demanding pose which stresses the impossibility of escaping from the camera which is located in the other room. Exposed to the gaze of the unknown other, she wears the mask of shame.

While in Turpin’s work there is an emphasis on corporeality and performance, Oliver Ressler‘s film The Visible and the Invisible focuses on power structures that escape the naked eye. The title was taken from the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and the film juxtaposes the exploitation in the form of heavy industrial pollution and inhuman working conditions in the global South and the gigantic profits generated by trade in these commodities which are in the hands of the elite in the global North. The artist deals with the elusive aspects of actual power, and he films only the closed doors and non-descript facades of Swiss companies that are unknown to us. On the other side the exploited have faces and identities, but the grey tone makes them seem like distant strangers.

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The invisible is also the topic of Nicole Hewitt‘s performative lecture This Woman is Called Jasna 06, and what is invisible in this case is the protagonist’s female voice. In early nineties, Jasna was a comparative literature student, and in her forties she was the employee of the Interational Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in Hague, which makes her a witness of the time. The sixth episode deals with a love story and is written in epic form, but it intertwines the motives from both personal and official history. The artist builds the narrative through “the memories of an expert witness, her own memories, Jasna’s memories, discourses that shaped her as an author, theories that shaped her as a subject, representations that petrified her as an object, war migrations that marked us as displaced and always out of tune with our own past.”

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It is precisely this displacement and non-compliance with the official historical narrative that raises the question of an adequate testimony that could bring us closer to the truth. The issue of testifying is also tackled by the duo louie+jesse in their card game The Hague Truth. The title refers to the eponymous poem by the defendant Simo Zarić written in Scheveningen in 1998. Ironically, in the poem Zarić talks about the good relations between detainees regardless of their nationality and committed crimes. A part of his text is placed on the back of each card, and the artists have used the novel They Would Never Hurt a Fly by Slavenka Drakulić as a starting point for the game’s design. Based on her descriptions of the defendants’ time in custody through the game the artists have told us a little about the good life in custody. The ultimate goal is to get rid of eight witnesses, whereby the player is acquitted, since unus testis nullus testis, or a single witness is no witness.

Shame on You! in the Gallery Miroslav Kraljević is curated by Ana Kovačić and Irena Borić.
The project Shame on You! is supported by the City of Zagreb, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, and the foundation Kultura Nova.

Photography by: Miran Kramar

1 Agamben, Giorgio (2008), Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive. Retrived: http://www.heartefact.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Giorgio-Agamben.pdf , 23 September 2015.

2 Ibid.

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As part of Shame on You! project Center for Contemporary Arts Celje hosted:

ANNA DAŠOVIĆ (1982, Amsterdam)

About her practice:

In my work I focus on how we relate to our (visual) history. I engage in long-term projects that are characterized by a research-based approach, that ultimately give rise to the work. My choice of subjects often derives from personal involvement. I then transform the latter into a workable theme as a
framework for the research. In a world where histories are often displayed in a simplified and static manner I try to relate to these views with a critical attitude. I am particularly fascinated by the politics of memory and how the emphasis on certain memories – or the lacking thereof – is used to shape dominant views on history. I am currently researching notions of conflict in contemporary memory culture. The strains between local and national memories, the forces of in- and exclusion that are activated between them, lead to a constant remembering and forgetting. These forces become destructive for one another. The impossible nature of a consensual collective memory is a strong focus point within my research. In my work I unfold these structures by pointing out the tension between history and memories, its “truthfull” storytelling and its treasonous and inauthentic nature specifically. The ‘eternal’ image of the past is contested, memories become violent irruptions of the past in the present, which are transfigured in and outside the work. By implicating myself as an active agent, my own position becomes confirmed and contested constantly.

http://annadasovic.nl/

…………………………………..

MILOŠ TRAKILOVIĆ
(Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Miloš Trakilović lives and works in Berlin. Main subject of his practice is the subject of the body or the corporeal. He questions the singularity of the human corporeal existence in relation to the multiple (co)existence primarily through the virtual real.
…………………………………….

AINO MARJATTA MAKI in JAAKKO KARHUNEN
(Finland)

 

Center for Contemporary Arts Celje

You are cordially invited to attend the lecture of Tomaž Flajs on Thursday, 4 April 2015, at 7 pm at Likovni salon Celje.

Tomaž Flajs is a gestalt psychotherapist. In his practice he explores the affects of shame within a wider social and political context. On the lecture he will introduce how shame operates as a tool of social control.

 

 

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17 January 2015, Miroslav Kraljević Gallery

16:00 to 18:00 Film screening: The Act of Killing, Documentary, 2012, Director: Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn

Death squad appeared in Indonesia in 1965 to subvert state power by the military in less than a year have helped the army to kill more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals. In the Act of killing some of the actors of death squads agree to tell their story about it but their participation in the film is not a documentary testimony: they play themselves but also their victims, and relive those crimes. As if that was not enough, they even choose the genre in which it will be filmed: musical, western or crime movie – they want to be the stars of their favorite genres. The film will be presented by Ana Kovačić.

18:30 to 20:30 Reading group: James Gilligan – Shame, Guilt and Violence

We read and discuss the text of James Gilligan “Shame, guilt and violence”. The text is Gilligan experiences with many years of work with prisoners, in which he wanted to investigate the causes and the possibility of prevention of violence and its relationship to the “varieties of moral experience”. The author discusses the shame as a result of the destruction of the self where violent or aggressive behavior arises as an attempt to achieve a sense opposite of the shame. Considers also the relationship between shame and guilt – while punishment can reinforce the feeling of shame, it usually reduces the feeling of guilt. We will try to explore the relationship of guilt and shame as defined by Gilligan and try to apply to a number of examples mentioned in the text, as well as in the film The Act of Killing by Joshua Oppenheimer. The text will be presented by a member of the curatorial team of GMK Sanja Sekelj.

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21 October 2014, Miroslav Kraljević Gallery

Text by Eiko Ikegami: Shame and the Samurai: Institutions, Trustworthiness and Autonomy in the Elite Honor Culture. In: Social Research, Vol. 70, No. 4 (Winter 2003), pp. 1351-1378

The text was selected and presented by Irena Borić, co-curator of Shame on You! project

The focus of the reading event was on shame as a public concept. In her text Eiko Ikegami brings the case study of relation towards shame within Japanese samurai culture that was 19th century elite male culture. She relates the concept of shame closely with raise and transformation of samurai elite and their political institutions. The case study of understanding and role of shame in pre-modern Japan brings the complexity of interaction between individual and society. The readers attempted to discuss why was the concept of shame a public concept in pre-modern Japan and in which way was related to actual politics.

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14th and 15th November 2014, Miroslav Kraljević Gallery

A two day workshop started with a screening of a Born in Flames (1983) by Lizzie Borden and it continued the following day with looking into the texts Michel Foucault, Judith Butler and Sara Ahmed. Ahmed’s idea about direction as queer phenomenology provided a basis for examining shame, how the body’s sense perception changes according to context and expectation.

Texts:
Discourse and Truth:the Problematization of Parrhesia
6 lectures given by Michel Foucault at the University of California at Berkeley, Oct-Nov. 1983
Permanent URL: http://foucault.info/documents/parrhesia/

Butler, Judith. ”Foucault and the Paradox of Bodily Inscriptions.” in: The Journal of Philosophy. Eighty- Sixth Annual Meeting American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. Vol. 86, No. 11, pp., 601-607, November 1989. (English)

Ahmed, Sara. Orientations: Toward a Queer Phenomenology
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Volume 12, Number 4, 2006, pp. 543-574 (Article) Published by Duke University Press

Olivia Dunbar (b. 1988, Vancouver) graduated with an MFA from the Piet Zwart Institute and is currently based in Amsterdam where she is a resident at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten. Her interest in language and identity provides the basis for works that move through different media, appearing as texts, sculptures, videos, performances and installations in order to produce dispositions and affective realities. Recent presentations include picture that yr on a cliff (but it’s in a dream) at Buenos Tiempos International, and RijksOpen 2014 at the Rijksakademie.
http://oliviadunbar.tumblr.com/

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1st–  22nd  June 2014, residency was hosted by Miroslav Kraljević Gallery, Zagreb

In their research, louie+jesse were interested in the experience and manifestation of shame on the part of those associated with the dominant majority or the aggressor. In the context of conflict in the Balkan region, particularly involving Croatia, the focus of their research was on how history and consensus define who is identified as victim and who as aggressor. How to deal with underlying feelings of shame about the past when race, nationality, ethnicity are rarely clearcut?

During the residency in Zagreb, they visited sites of historic/political importance, relevant museums and art exhibitions related to the Yugoslav wars, and met with organisations such as Documenta: Center for Dealing with the Past, The Youth Initiative for Human Rights and The Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma, as well as several other independent academics, journalists and artists to gain a better understanding of the complexity of shame itself and what it means in the context of Croatia and recent Balkan conflicts. At the end of the residency they presented the research process in a public talk at 18th of June at Miroslav Kraljević Gallery.

PLACES THEY VISITED

  • The Shelling of Zagreb Memorial Centre
  • ‘Art in Dark Times’ exhibition of Yugoslav political cartoons 1990-2001 at Studenski Centar
  • ‘Zagreb in the Homeland War’ – exhibition at Zvonimir Gallery
  • Medvedgrad / Altar of the Homeland
  • ‘Art & Labour’ exhbition at the Technical Museum
  • Ethnographic Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Mirogoj Cemetary
  • HDLU building
  • The Cathedral and the Stone Gate
  • St Mark’s Square
  • Naive Art Museum
  • Sound Art Incubator at Mochvara
  • ‘Between the Frequencies’ exhibition at Art Pavilion
  • Student exhibition at Croatian Academy of Arts
  • 5th Croatian Illustration Biennale at Klovicevi Dvori Gallery
  • Night of Croatian Cinema (Kino Europa etc)

CONTACTS THEY MADE

  • MK Gallery curators: Ana Kovačić, Sanja Sekelj and Lea Vene + Freelance curator Irena Borić
  • Ines Vanjak, Kultura Nova
  • Sven Milekić, Youth Initiative for Human Rights
  • Tanja Petrović, Documenta – Center for Dealing with the Past
  • Zdenka Pantić, International Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims
  • Tamara Banjeglav, Freelance Researcher (MemoryLab)
  • Tihana Pupovac, Freelance Project Manager (Monuments in Transition)
  • Boris Pavelić, Freelance Journalist
  • And many other citizens of Zagreb

BOOKS, FILMS ETC ON THE TOPIC

  • They Would Never Hurt a Fly, Slavenka Drakulić
  • The Fall of Yugoslavia, Misha Glenny
  • Blood Lines, Vamik Volkan
  • Moving forwards, moving backwards, eastern europe palestra – ivana bago and antonia majaca
  • Repatriation as part of recontructive process in torture survivors / Psychosocial assessment of torture victims repatriated to bosnia-herzegovina (2000) – IRCT, Zagreb
  • WEIYTH notebook 1: To Think (Film) Politically: Art and Activism Between Representation and Direct Action – Jelena Vesic (ed.)
  • The Wretched of the Earth, Franz Fanon
  • Skammen/Shame, Ingmar Bergman
  • Muslim Identity and the Balkan State, Hugh Poulton
  • Yugoslavian and Croatian Folk Embroidery – Janko Paravić
  • Shame and the Origins of Self-Esteem – M Jacoby
  • The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican: Croatian massacre of the Serbs during WW2 – Vladimir Dedijer
  • Media, Discourse and the Yugoslav Conflicts – Pal Klosto (ed.)
  • Video, War and the Diasporic Imagination – D. Kolar-Panov
  • 366 Rituals – Igor Grubic
  • ‘The Necktie and How to Wear One’ in Local/Global newspaper by Ivana Keser
  • Žena u Ogledalu – Jagoda Kaloper (film)
  • Countertransference – Yael Danieli
  • Politics and Economics of Transition – Žarko Puhovski
  • The Trouble with Blame: Victims, Perpetrators and Responsibility – Sharon Lamb
  • The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia – Michael Anthony Sells
  • Politics and Economics of Transition – Žarko Puhovski et al. (eds)
  • Inside Story: Dogs Of War (1992) – BBC Documentary
  • Pavilion 22, Nenad Puhovski (documentary film)
  • CroatianMemories.org – website

louie+jesse are a multidisciplinary artist duo from the UK. Trained in Music Composition and Theatre Design respectively, they have been collaborating for the last years on diverse installations, interventions and other audiovisual projects, including artist residencies in Berlin (GlogauAIR and Ganze/Teile, 2010), the Netherlands (P.A.I.R., 2010/11), Poland (Wyspa Institute of Art at Gdansk Shipyard, 2011) and at the University of Birmingham (CCCS50, 2014), as well as in commisions for festivals in Chester  (Up the Wall 2009 and 2010), Durham (International Brass Festival, 2013), Denmark (Aabenraa Art Week, 2013) and Venece (Schiume, 2012).

http://louiejesse.com/