Igor Grubić: How to stretch the poem beyond the limit of words

Igor Grubić’s works in different way, often directly or indirectly, represent an interventionist aesthetical act in public space, pointing to the potentials for social transformation, perceiving the public sphere as a place for artistic action. In the essay Figurations of Resistance, Dejan Sretenović concludes that Igor Grubić’s art addresses a production of visibility and sensitivity to events, states and processes in society and as such it follows a general (sub-political) orientation of socially engaged art today while, on the other hand, it accomplishes the full intensity of a piece as an aesthetic act of figuration of resistance.

The exhibition How to stretch the poem beyond the limit of words gathers several of Igor Grubić’s works made over the past 20 years in different media, from public space interventions/actions and photo documentation, to text and collage, which in a specific way depict a cross-section of the tissue of reality. The scenes the artist faces us with form a web of different relationships – the issues of social and political reality, the collective heritage of antifascism, emancipation and the messages and poetic potential of language.

The central place at the exhibition is taken by the photo installation 366 Rituals of Liberation, representing a platform for exploration of the poetic and political potential of language. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the revolutionary year 1968, 366 Rituals of Liberation is carried out as a series of everyday rituals, i.e. micropolitical actions and interventions performed by the artist every day during 2008. Structured as a series of photographs edited in jump cuts, this comprehensive and complex piece documents a combination of illegal guerrilla actions, direct encounters with the street, performativity, civil disobedience, poetic terrorism. In them Grubić embodies the idea of the identity of a screen/street hero in a worker’s suit whose ‘rituals’ implement a series of social corrections, setting straight the irregularities of a post-transitional society. Editing and articulation, poetic language and visual imagery of political protest are the backbones of performing and structuring Igor Grubić’s particular works. The forms of editing and articulating the verbal and the visual, image and text, are formative traits of Grubić’s works, either as photographs, or as photo-sequences and film/video. In them, the colour red appears as a sign and a guiding idea, from the red flag flying in his had while he is passing on his bike, or a red scarf/mask on the faces of National Liberation Movement heroes’ faces on busts displayed in public space in his 366 Liberation Rituals, to the constructivist red sign and abstract geometric form in late 1990s collages, the revolutionary thought in Igor Grubić’s works is clearly highlighted in the presence of red, just like the exhibition title appeals to a poetic-political engagement in the everyday sphere.
– Branka Benčić

* from the essay Jump Cuts by Igor Grubić: Slicing the Tissue of Reality, Osijek City Galleries, 2016

Igor Grubić (Zagreb Croatia 1969) has been active as a multimedia artist from the beginning of the 1990ties. His work includes site-specific interventions in public spaces, photography, and film. He represents Croatia at the 58th Venice Biennale. His critical, socio-politically committed practice is characterized by long-term engagement and his work is focused on past and present political situations from the in-depth exploration of the fate of historical monuments and the demise of industry, to examination of the predicament of minority communities. Though grounded in the documentary tradition, Grubic’s work in photography and film is characterized by an affective and empathic approach, which is deeply humane and often poetic. His work has been exhibited in various international institutions among which: Tirana Biennial 2 (2003); Manifesta 4 (Frankfurt, 2002); Manifesta 9 (Genk, 2012); 50th October Salon (Belgrade, 2009); Gender Check, MuMOK (Vienna, 2009); 11th Istanbul Biennial (2009); 4th Fotofestival Mannheim Ludwigshafen, Heidelberg (2011); East Side Stories, Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2012); Gwangju Biennale (2014); Zero Tolerance, MOMA PS1 (New York 2014); Degrees of Freedom, MAMbo (Bologna, 2015); 5th Thessaloniki Biennial (2015); Cut / Rez, MSU (Zagreb, 2018); Heavenly creatures, MG+MSUM (Ljubljana, 2018); The Value of Freedom, Belvedere 21 (Vienna, 2018); 58th Venice Biennale (2019); Yerevan Biennial – The Time Complex (2020); Bigger than myself, MAXXI (Roma, 2021); ); Art at Work/At the Crossroads Between Utopianism and (In)Dependence, MSUM (Ljubljana, 2022).

Exhibition is organised as part of the project “New approaches to antifascist and peace heritage in education and contemporary art practices”, in association with Apoteka – Space for Contemporary Art, Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past and the The Alliance of Anti-Fascists and Anti-Fascist Fighters of Primorje – Gorski Kotar County.

The “New approaches to antifascist and peace heritage in education and contemporary art practices” project benefits from a grant under the Active Citizens Fund from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, through the EEA Grants.

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