Jasmina Cibic’s presentation for the Slovenian Pavilion, For our Economy and Culture, continues her interests and methodologies and takes the curatorial directive of the 55th International Art Exhibition — la Biennale di Venezia: The Encyclopedic Palace as a starting point to further explore systems and hierarchies of knowledge and presentation.
Using the architectural specificity of the Slovenian Pavilion, a repurposed private residence, and referencing state architectural strategies, Cibic creates an immersive multi-media installation that appropriates the entire space and explores issues around national representation and framing. Into this context, Cibic places a variety of elements, which further examine modes of exchange, reception and constructions of identity. These include two films, shot on official state locations, which underwent numerous redesigns concurrent with national cultural and political imperatives. The films present philosophical and architectural theories of purpose, form, function and aesthetic priorities through, in one, a staged interview between a (male) architect and (female) journalist, and in the other,
a recreation of a 1957 parliamentary debate set up to decide which artworks might be suitable (i.e. nationally representative enough) to ‘decorate’ the newly built People’s Assembly. In each film, the re-imagining and re-contextualising of such issues, dramatizes not only the power paradigms inherent in systems of authority, but also the explicit contradictions present in the transmutation of a national identity from past to present, place to place.
For our Economy and Culture also features a series of historical and contemporary paintings of flower arrangements drawn from the official art collection of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia. Such paintings are routinely selected to decorate the current government offices, literally framing MP’s as they hang behind their heads and presenting a particular ideal of state image. By utilising these apparently neutral and decorative images within the context of her installation, Cibic further articulates her interest in art as ‘souvenir’ a token of national identity. As a further framing device, the interior of the pavilion will be entirely covered with wallpaper carrying obsessively repetitive scientific illustrations of an endemic Slovene beetle, a ‘failed’ national icon that has almost been completely exorcised solely because of its ideologically charged name, Anophthalmus hitleri.
Of her practice, Cibic says: ‘I am interested in exploring the architectural apparatuses of the exhibition space itself, the ideological constructs behind such a space, the operative mechanisms that define its character and values as well those that frame the works’ reception. I want to construct theatrical interventions and events, mise-en-scènes, which open up a dialogue between their origin and the place in which they are ultimately received. The idea of the spectator as an accidental or even ‘faux’ tourist fascinates me, as does the way that an artwork within a specific often displaced architectural framework, becomes a souvenir object par excellence – a fetish of the original experience’.