The Present and Presence: Repetition 5 - Doubles

Miklós Erdély, Indigo risba, 1980, Papir za teleks, indigo papir, grafit, Moderna galerija

Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Maistrova 3, Ljubljana

Repetition 5 centers on the concept of the double. The works from The Present and Presence featuring the Arteast 2000+ collection that have been brought into focus are Kazimir Malevich's The Last Futurist Show, Belgrade (1985-86); Ion Grigorescu's films Ame-Animus (1977), Masculine/Feminine (1976), and Dialogue with Ceausescu (1978); and Miklós Erdély's Indigo Drawing (1980), which forms part of the artist's solo presentation in the context of the 30th Biennial of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana; it also constitutes an instance of dialogue and collaboration by our institution with another art space, arising out of kindred subjects and contents.

Romanian artist Ion Grigorescu did most of his performances in the 1970s in his own apartment, with the film camera his only audience. At the time, Romania was in the throes of one of the most repressive Eastern European dictatorships, which made the very idea of publicly presenting such projects unthinkable. In his performance art, Grigorescu explored the boundaries of his body, which he saw both as a double, i.e. his self, and as an enemy. Only by reiterating major social traumas was he able to feel alive under the prevailing repression. His work portrays his experience of social isolation, marginalization, and vulnerability, resulting from feeling conflicted, paradoxical, doubled and contaminated (for example, in Dialogue with Ceausescu he assumes the role of both the dictator and himself; in Masculine Feminine he appears as two genders; and in Ame-Animus he grapples with his soul). American anthropologist Katherine Verdey recognized a "social schizophrenia" in socialist Romania, which she described as an ability to experience "a real meaningful and coherent self only in relation to the enemy party." In his films, Grigorescu fights a double of his own body.

Seventy years after the first staging of the Last Futurist Show, Kazimir Malevich staged an exact replica of the Saint Petersburg exhibition in an apartment in Belgrade, putting into focus the concept of the copy and the original in art; the artist declared the copy as more important than the original, and copying as an attitude to art. "In our culture a copy is still deemed less valuable than the original," he explained. "Looking at it from a different vantage point, however, we can see that a copy may be far more complex than the original, entailing, in addition to the idea of the original, a new idea of the copy."

Hungarian artist Miklós Erdély began dealing with the subject of the original and copy in the early 1970s, in particular in the context of the INDIGO group (INter DIszciplináris GOndolkodás - interdisciplinary thinking) and the "creative exercises" he conceived for young artists. In this vein, he made his series of drawings on carbon paper that constitute both originals and copies. The artist wrote: "Seeing a double, I may think I'm seeing the same. Seeing the same, I may think I'm seeing a double."

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