Silva Kalcic

Streets are our Brushes, Squares are our Palettes

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"What ’s (that) gleaming white in a forest green? Is it snow, are that flocking swans?…". The Slavic antithesis, the introductory part of Hasanaginica poem by an anonymous author, certainly without that intention, but successfully describes the usual reaction of an audience to Public art projects. The public art is leaving a gallery ’s White Cube addressing to potentially new consumers of contemporary art, demanding from an audience to observe or to take part (the audience as the other party in a dialog) and of course an indifference is always the undesired feedback of the audience -that was Heisenberg who contested the dogma claiming that an object is independent of a subject observing it ("Big Other "). In a case when contemporary art is placed into a public space, Nada Beros considers that "it ’s being addressed in that way to a larger audience, a number of potential "consumers" increases and a work of art becomes more accessible, although not necessarily more available to the wide audience. Therefore the context of a public space is pretty often acting as a double edged sword, incurring damage to the audience as much as to the work of art.". At the time of postscientism, or as Houellebecq would say "the third metaphysical mutation ", a visual aspect of perception is dominant, and as well as the visible object is prior to a visual medium,the visual culture also takes "precedence "over a notion of "visual arts " (the limits and rules of (un)contaminated visual perception are comprised in a statement of J. Gagarin, the first man who entered the outer space: "I was watching and watching, but I haven ’t seen the God!").
Being an expression of active relation of artists towards reality, the art, instead of being conserved in traditional exhibition areas, is rather confronted (to paraphrase Marina Grzinic’s statement) with its social milieu -albeit the attribute "social "is denounced for its bad reputation, often being "simplified and misused" in the past. The art in public spaces abrogates entirely the boundary line between "high" and "popular" art, but there is also a danger hidden in it -art is exposed to an influence of industry of entertainment and art prints manufacturing ("making concessions to the people"), and because a rejoicing in aesthetics could be merchandised, a "beauteousness" moves to the area of design, to supermarkets and factories, as an inversion of Warhol’s statement that "to be good in business is the most fascinating form of art ".
And that place of materialism and ecstatic communications is the city; "Nature, being everlasting opponent to a man, is going to be overpowered by means of modern technology and compelled to serve to a happiness of mankind " (F. Fukuyama). An ordinary citizen of a western city observes, assimilates and recognizes about 16000 logotypes every day. The public art is mainly related with an urban space and an urban feeling (unlike land art); "Streets are our brushes,squares are our palettes!", Majakovski has exclaimed that before.


As a part of the manifestation Zadar Alive 2001Darko Fritz installed a site-specific close circuit video installation on the main city square (Narodni trg).A key part of it was a surveillance camera capturing the prose of everyday life -a direct wireless live coverage of a movement of the people in that public area (in a manner of public television’s panoramic snapshots). From the top of a candelabrum -the urban furniture, erected in the middle of a square, the surveillance camera (light-motive of Darko Fritz’s work) was taking pictures, broadcasted simultaneously on two locations on the square, on the Renaissance Municipal Loggia and on the opposite Baroque tower clock, where a screen was placed behind a transparent back of the clock, hands of which had been removed for restoration. The intention of the project was to bring round the urban environment and spatial relations on the square by mean of live coverage -media mediated perception of an "actual" moment. An interaction of the exterior and architecture was strongly manifested,and both, synchronic and diachronic dimensions of the square, reality and meta-reality -became fused.

How many people live in their place of birth? Darko Fritz (resident in Zagreb and in Amsterdam, in 2001 by Zelimir Koscevic proclaimed to be "the greatest non-institutional exporter of Croatian culture" at the moment) posed that question in his project Migrant Navigator, dealing precisely with migrations, repositioning, identity, nostalgia (in a sense of saudade, an untranslatable Portuguese word) and a conception and significance of home as a relict of familial and national community in a period of all-pervasive atomisation of society. Migrant Navigator is a work-in-progress, the multi(hybrid) -media -and public art (implicating Web as a public space)project that started in April with a "mis.informing" Web page, decorated with a frieze of Home icons (of a renowned internet provider) introducing you to its content. The second phase of the project was off-line: from June to October of 2002 as a part of the project Talking the City, in the public area next to the railway station in Linz , was planted a horticultural installation entitled The Future of Nostalgia. From the grassy area a piece, 9x9 meters in size, "was taken ", and a pictogram of a house was made by carefully arranged flowers, or more precisely the same Home icon of the Web browser was translated in to the floral arrangement. The railway station was thoughtfully chosen location for planting -as a place of transits and a check-in post for emigrants, the point of a warping and a distortion of space, where passengers can eat, sleep, make transactions, shop, pray... Such spaces Augé denominates as non-places (non-lieux), with no identities and relations. Even the installation itself goes through transitions climatic, organic, changes of local municipal authorities what might result in a stopping of weeding and watering of beds of flowers (or the seasonal replacement of flowers),and it is even exposed to a possible anonymous act of vandalism …The third phase of Migrant Navigator was realised in November as a part of a Motel Jezevo project. A poster measuring 2x2 meter in size, made in silk-screen technique with a replica of Home icon, blown up and computer processed, with a cyber-aestheticized, cold, elegantly bright-silver background was placed on central part of existing advertising screens (of a standard, aggresive, billboard format) on both sides of Croato-Slovenian border. The poster does not contain any further informations except the pictorial one, inducing a series of associations in those ones crossing the border and at very best it could inspire them on rethinking the identity -a national one (as a socio-cultural construct) and a personal one (as its biological substratum). In the age of civilisation of communicating, the Web reduced the globe on to an attainable size, while, at the same time, in the real world border formalities drastically decelerate our movement, even calling it into question... Borders are the places with their own "psychopathology" ; the border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia (almost an unnoticeable borderline without any official structures until 1991, in a little while becoming the eastern "Schengenian" border) is a critical point of intensive trafficking, drugs & arms smugglings …
The posters with Home icons have spread out "virulently" to Zagreb, posted on the advertisement pillars of the Ban Jelacic Square and next to the Main railway station, on the billboard in Savska street, intended for the view of pedestrians and commuters.In a relation between the visible object and the visual medium (billboard - strategic place of advertising campaigns), Darko Fritz in a conciliatory way handle with a functioning mechanisms of consumerist society, inspiring beholders to a "wishful thinking "; the appropriation of marketing strategies is evident also through the concept of an exhibition as a product -namely, it has its own sign and "logo".


Zivot umjetnosti magazine, no. 67 - 68, Institut za povjest umjetnosti [Art History Institute], Zagreb, 2003