The Objects in Transition
In this series of artworks, which includes various installations and objects, I explore transiency. I am interested in the aesthetic experience of an artwork, as its physical change depends on its duration in time: how this particular duration could be instrumentalized in order to make it explicit, and what emotional impact this process would have on human perception.
The Objects in Transition | Ivan Dujmusic | Gallery VN | 31.05. – 17. 06. 2016
Abolition of the Line makes reference to the central artist of the Gorgona group – Josip Vaništa. In his drawings, Vaništa strove to achieve nothingness, asceticism, and self-liberation, which is why he reduced the drawing to a single line, tending towards the absolute minimum or the “zero drawing”, as he explained in an interview. Ivan Dujmušić has continued Vaništa’s work by creating a robot to erase the drawn line. Taking a step further, he made a machine annul the drawing, which had already been reduced to a single line in Vaništa’s style, literally bringing it to the zero point. Once the machine has erased the line, the artist draws it again so that the machine can erase it, which introduces a Sisyphus-like absurdity to the picture and the very process of drawing. The question arises: whose handwriting is it after all – does it belong to the artist who is mechanically drawing the line with the help of a piece of rope, or the machine that enthusiastically erases the line, bringing the drawing to the zero point?
Dujmušić’s work Northern Mail resulted from his prolonged stay in Norway. The very title is somewhat reminiscent of Fluxus’ mail art and their experimentation with mail service. Even though the ice boulder did not reach the gallery by mail, it is wrapped as a parcel, dripping into an aluminium bowl as a reminder of distances, of the climatic and cultural differences, slowly vanishing like a pale memory of distant journeys, first by dripping and then by evaporating. This artwork was also linked to Damir Sokić’s text published for the exhibition of Demur, Petercol, and Sokić, in which he referred to the position of the artist as a starved and lonely polar bear standing on a splinter of ice. It is with this ascetic position of solitude and alienation from the rest of the society that Ivan Dujmušić identifies himself with, sending his splinter of ice as a thought from the north straight to the gallery.
Reconstruction of a Breath was likewise transformative in its nature. Referring to Manzoni’s famous artwork Artist’s Breath, Dujmušić completed his sculptural installation by exhibiting it in a glass case. The transformative nature of this artwork was rather slow as the balloon took more than a month to deflate. Nevertheless, the artist dealt here with the same issue as Manzoni, which is the obsession of the world of art with the durability, or even eternity of an artwork.
Belief in Weight as a Measure partly referred to Jannis Kounellis, more precisely to the untitled artwork that he had performed in 1969, when he placed a candleholder in his mouth and had the candle lit for the vernissage. Same as in many other artworks by Dujmušić, the candle flame was soon extinguished and its traces could only measure the impact of purification and silence. He placed his own candle directly onto a mail scale, normally used to measure the weight of letters. The scale measured the weight of a melting candle, and when the process was over, the scale was supposed to reach the zero point. This idea was continued in the last work from the series, titled The Law of the Situation: a truncated pyramid made of earth. The machine on which the pyramid was placed produced vibrations, which slowly destroyed the pyramid and made it collapse.
This exceptionally quoting series of artworks is permeated with the reflections of various authors and their opuses, showing – as Dujmušić himself has stated – the line of artists from which he originates. By explicitly introducing the artists from whom he has learned or by quoting their work, he shows his spiritual affiliation and also incorporates a part of their energy into his own artworks. An especially interesting aspect is that he often complements the dialogue with his conceptual predecessors by introducing a machine. His robotic author is a vibrating mechanism that shatters the stable pyramid, disturbs the equilibrium of the candle and the scale. What Dujmušić founds intriguing is not the machine in itself, but the creation of life that it can make possible or contribute to. Nevertheless, in his Northern Mail and in the Reconstruction of the Breath, the transformation occurs without the machine’s creative activity. These transformations bring the art objects to life and stir up emotions in the observer just as a living being would do.
Another red thread between the artworks in this series is the act of vanishing, which happens in a particular time span. Dujmušić’s artworks thus have a somewhat melancholic effect, as they literally disappear or destroy themselves before the observer’s eyes. The ice melts dramatically, ending in a pool of water with the floating stamp showing a white polar bear, the candle burns out and vanishes, leaving the scale on its own, the earth loses the form of a pyramid, the balloon deflates by the end of the exhibition, and the line is erased.
By using fire, water, earth, and air, Dujmušić has involved the traditional four elements from the pre-Socratic philosophy, which had a significant influence on the Western culture. In his art, these four elements have been complemented with a fifth one, which various thinkers before him termed differently, from quintessence to idea and even love. What Dujmušić suggests as the fifth element is left to the visitors to explore and discover
Olga Majcen Linn
© Copyright - Olga Majcen Linn
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