Stevan Vuković: Academy In a Terminal State

In its institutional format, the Fine Art Academy – which, actually, has not to be viewed just as some fine art academy in particular, but rather as the ‘Art Academy Mechanism’, i.e. as a device for facilitating the social production of artists – can be described as a decisively terminal phenomenon. And that is for at least two categorically different reasons, both encapsulated within the notions of the word ‘terminal’. On one hand, each empirical instance of the work of the Fine Art Academy Mechanism is to provide a kind of a safe departure point for those on the way to take an active part of the art world as artists, and, on the other, it has to bring them just to the verge of conventional practices in producing artworks and thinking through the medium of an artwork, for which the future artists are trained, keeping them on that place, without letting them get caught into the simple rule application process. In other words, it has to provide the artists to be simultaneously with immediate closeness and critical distance towards the paradigms, rules, conventions and hierarchies of the art world in both its actual and historical dimensions.

In the case of the lack of this terminal character, the Fine Art Academy Mechanism tends to become just a pedagogical tool, with the task to produce a kind of ‘conscious and responsible social subjects’ out of a self relying ‘untamed’ objects (the ‘unsocialized’, naturally ‘gifted’ artists), by means of implantation of knowledge and skills on them, using as the catch the promise of them getting through this implantation the power to completely master those sets of knowledge and skills, and thereby gain the object of their desire for social recognition. The ‘repressed’ truth of this pedagogical process is that behind the semblance of the neutral and just instrumental ‘knowledge’ and ‘skill’, we can always locate the gesture of the master, the one framing the subject into the simple means of reproducing the present power structures in art and society.

The main question is then how to get from the process inertia of reproducing the mastering relation to the exploration of one’s idiomatic position as regarding the medium in art, the role models into which the artists are pushed while entering the field of production and the conventions they have to acknowledge and consider in their work. This show is one of the results of such an experiment within the year of studies 2000/2001 at the Belgrade Academy of Fine Arts, carried out by Dragan V. Jovanović, Zoran Todorović and Dejan Grba. Character of individual works presented, as well as issues they raise by their structure and cultural references, can be interpreted in this context in the following way:

Terminal Penetration: Body as the Site for the Spectacle (Jelena Radić)

The impersonal and monumental pixelated painterly quote from a rather banal user manual relies on the cultural heritage of the old Guy Debord’s statement that everything which used to be directly lived has moved away into a spectacle, representing the body as no more than the mere annex to a hygienic ritual, a mannequin body penetrated by technology and its products, and used as the site for spectacle.

Terminal Desire: Orality in Montage (Slavica Panić)

A blow up, distorted by the montage effect, a billboard scale image of tanned female breasts, formatted like an overkill ad, is offered as a site of ‘pleasurable’ rest for the eye of the passer by. Playing on the simultaneity of, on one hand, the most stereotypic visual topic in male oriented and male dominated advertising industry and, on the other, of the ultimate symbol of pure orality involved with the issues of oral sadism and consumer cannibalism, the work gets one’s gaze into an ambiguous trap involving desire on a terminal way, in constant displacement between these two perspectives.

Terminal Expression: The Metonymic Puzzle (Veljko Onjin)

Processing protocols of visual representation in the expressive format, archiving them within the frame of a set of small coloured surfaces with strong optical effect, this work sets up the puzzle game of a strictly metonymic kind, avoiding any direct, allegorical or metaphorical narrative on the issues it could possibly deal with or signify. It brings in the topic of terminal expression, using the elements of expressionist discourse, but relying solely on the economy of visual interrelations between the surfaces it consists of.

Terminal Object: Fetish Desublimized (Vladimir Krneta)

A video work displaying within the very minimal setting the anatomy of a set of handguns that get gradually dismembered and put together again in clinically cold way, in slow rhythm undisturbed by any background audio or visual data. It gets its object into a terminal state of being fully focused on and heavily invested with both the gaze of the viewer and all the social, political and other contextual connotations, but also fully desublimized, brought into the state of being just what it merely physically is, a mere object liable to manipulation.

Terminal Timeline: Schizo cut up (Vladimir Todorović)

A video that explores the perception of lime, linearity, succession and resistance to the ease of the image, replacing the rational telos of narration with the random nature of bombardment with cut-up data, restructured, redirected, reposed. Made out of video recordings of common places in everyday life, looking like a part of a timeline for a personal story, it renders these recordings compositionally against the viewing conventions, relying on the uncanny effect of the schizoid splitting of the gaze of the viewer to the one ‘seeing’ through the optics of the presented, and the one seeing oneself seeing through that optics as a complete stranger.

Flu_ID exhibition catalogue, Dom omladine, Belgrade 2001.


Works at Flu_ID exhibition 2001, Dom omladine Gallery, Belgrade.