Marko A. Kovacic
I'm not interested in object as fetish which is to be shown, and in all the aura around the product. My principal interest is installation. The main issue which I want to bring up with the entire installation is the following: Once you enter a gallery premise, you become a part of the exhibition and you loose your voyeuristic distance. It suffice for spectators to make the first step, to decide to enter the gallery and see the exhibition -- immediatedly upon the entrance things must start to happen to them.

In the case of sculpture or painting, author's body is entirely concealed -- there is no physical, literal presence. But I am also performing, or showing myself. In the direct contact with the audience I act a play, I wish to invest them with some feelings, to stimulate them. I wish to intensify the thrill.

The Story of Television

When I was young, we had a TV set which was a piece of furniture, and because of the radiation, it was not to be looked at for more than twenty minutes a day. This TV set never left our house; whenever necessary, a mechanic came and repaired it on the spot. Since the TV set was old and frequently broke down, it often happened that I could see inside the TV from behind. When the TV was already quite old, and as I grew up and began to learn what faults there could be, I looked in it myself, found a blown fuse, bought a new one in a shop, and put it in. Thus I became familiar with the TV from both sides, and it grew so close to my heart that when we bought a new one, I preserved it as a souvenir of my youth. At the end of the eighties, I became aware of human dependence upon television, of the extent to which people believe everything this medium communicates to them. This was the period when the first signs of the Balkan crisis started to appear: Miloševič came to power; Serbian policy started to battle against the internal enemy. At that time, however, everything did not seem to be so disastrous yet. In 1989, I was invited to participate in the Yugoslav Documenta exhibition in Sarajevo. I pondered the kind of a piece I should do for this exhibition. And I made my first TV set. In my installation, I repeated the ground plan of a three-nave, Old Christian basilica which stood on the Sarajevo fair grounds where the Documenta exhibition was being held. I named this work Prediction of Zeus. The TV set had no screen, and central to it was a tiny soldier throwing a bomb. If Zeus was the superior ideological leader of the Ancient Greeks, if he protected them from enemies by throwing his spear, in our time this role was taken over by a Partisan with a gun and a bomb standing in a heroic pose. I wanted to satirise the situation which was starting to develop in the then Yugoslavia. Soon afterwards, I lost my studio, I was left in a narrow space and started to think in what direction I should take my art. I had the TV set, and it seemed adequate as a field of vision, it became part of the work which continued from before. It also conceptually stimulated me as a space where I could continue to deal with the problem of the power of the video medium (the essential topic of my work in video art). As an artist working in the field of visual art, I could not avoid being fascinated by modern technology. It is precisely by means of video art that an artist can creep into the spectator's living room, which is the symbol of intimacy, privacy - it is everyman's miniature kingdom.

The Story of a Museum

For a long time, I've been fascinated by my grandad's passion for collecting. He lived in a small cottage, with a wood-shed beside it, and every year he added a new wood-shed. In them, my grandad stored all kinds of objects he found and believed he'd definitely need one day. As a child, I used to enthusiastically explore these little museums of non-functional objects.

The political turnaround from socialism to democratic capitalism made it necessary to settle accounts with regard to object-symbols of the former period. We are constantly facing the fact that, in the past, we lived in illusions, and that currently, in a world of changed values, we can not always find our way. I thought that I had to react to this situation. Therefore I wanted to clear the wood-shed of my artistic past. My position is not a nostalgic one, but I am aware that, emotionally and spiritually, I am caught in the universe of my youth. I feel that objects from this unrecoverable past belong to me even more, for they represent the past to which the present no longer refers. They have acquired the status of my personal relics, since they reflect my ideas and a period which I shall never be able to experience in the same way again. My museum amalgamates personal mythologies and ideologies from my youth, and the inherited museum inclination, the strategy of storing discarded objects (some of these relics are already 10 or 15 years old). I select objects which provoke associations within me, I store them. Only after a certain period do these found objects turn into works of art. In most cases I modulate these found objects; they are like a materialised diary which is not being written in ink on paper, in a notebook, but with objects themselves, and with interventions thereupon. Sometimes these interventions happen at once, sometimes only after a period of time. The objects are built into my imagination like stones in a mosaic.

In my performances the story is rather absent, since narration belongs to theatre; I wish to stimulate associations which will forge different histories. It is nice if the presented image remains in spectator's mind, leaves an impression. I want to symbolize my existence, my presence, and for this reason I call into consciousness certain images from the past.

A reference to film and film procedures is always present with me. I make a sculpture and it presents -- to make an analogy with film -- the material which had been shot; then comes editing -- the problem of emplacement of sculptures; etc. And when spectators move around the place, their looks are movements of a camera -- this was my intention when leading a spectator through the space.

The mirror is said to be the symbol of symbolics, the instrument of psyche and of fear of self-anticipation. The mirror constantly reminds us of our presence, vanity, and transitiveness. It is our double, for representation is the double of death. Each time we look into the mirror we are older. This relates to the symbolic level. Besides, the mirror enables us to see two planes, two images from one point of view, by merely adjusting the focus: when we focus on the mirror, we see the mirror itself, and its proximity; but when -- without changing position -- we focus on the other plane, we see also the object, the image in the mirror, something outside the visual field. It is exactly this capacity of the mirror -- the dramaturgy of looking, the increased attention, suspension -- that has led me to start constructing such systems.
(Artist's statement)

I direct the movement of spectators with the installation; I wish to suggest positions and points of looking. I stimulate them to take the path which I believe is ideal. I lead them from room to room so that they experience all positions, all anxieties and feelings of being captured when they see themselves in the mirror. This is the issue that interests me: to make them face their own image: someone is looking at them, but actually it is them themselves; to shock and surprise them. The suspense.

At a classical exhibition, the point of looking is always the spectator, and the looked-at object is returning the look. However, reflective materials -- mirrors, in my case -- capture the space, and thus the spectators themselves. I let them know that they stand in the space -- that they are not the central point, the onlookers, voyeurs, but that in fact they are being looked at.
Barbara Borcic

What happens when the protagonists meet at the black-and-red chessboard? The game rules are precise and strict, the competitors are experienced and ready to fight. The crowd crushes in on the chessboard, the space and time references are elusive, the developments run wild.

Heroes are falling in front of us with accelerating speed; each fragment on the video screen bears a weighty meaning. This is not the montage and swiftness of a video clip where image is conformed to a piece of music; and this is also not the slow rhythm and paper-thin theatrical acting of an artistic video. This is a live performance: little mise en scenes in the frames of emptied TV sets, and mechanical figurines with character, image and subjective views. The twinkling two-dimensional surface of the screen expands into the spectator's realm where everything becomes possible and unreal at the same time.

This is not a game any more, it is a fight - not a battle, but a slaughter. The presentation of an avant-garde game of chess transforms into a Luddite-like theatre of reality, reconstruction mutates into destruction.

The protagonists stage a live performance immediatedly after the screening: the chess duel protagonists appear again from behind the TV objects-installations, this time for real. It seems that they have stepped right out of the video screen into the auditorium. In the same mechanical movement as in the video film, with suitcases in their hands, they approach the stage where the final sequences of the video film are repeated. However, the actors surpass the margin separating the imaginary and symbolic from the real; the edge where they move is obviously sharp and slippery. Althrough the live happening starts rather amicably and not threathening -- a humourous sketch in the manner of expresionistic silent films -- it finishes similary to the video film: violence without a winner, turning from grotesque to horror.

Marko Kovačič's works exhibited at the Fort Into the Past exhibition presented the eighties in a head-on confrontation with the nineties. The exhibition was saturated with memory: personal (the artist's production over several years) and collective memory (found, assembled, transformed and shaped objects, signs, symbols), both of which inseparably ran one into another and aroused myriad references and associations. The old and the new, something which may be called the past and the present, were placed side by side. TV objects were installed (again) into the ambiance of a snug living room; various boxes, optical and mechanical gadgets and devices attracted our gaze; and a figure in space was but very small, so that we could only enter the realm of illusion and deceit after we ourselves had gone through the necessary diminution.