Janez Kardelj (Slovenia)

About the artist

I am Janez Kardelj. I was born, I live and I work in Ljubljana. After graduating painting at the ALU school in Ljubljana

Exhibited works

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What would happen if… art

What would happen if… is a board game. The player who most accurately predicts the predictions of other players about reactions and actions of certain people in different situations is the winner. I reject any art that isn’t directly, equally and uncompromisingly addressing those who come of their own free will in contact with it. I refuse to be forced to choose (rationally, intuitively or randomly) between different publics I can opt to join when I enter (rationally, intuitively or randomly) some art situation. Stubbornness and revolt could lead me to join the unaware and miss-leaded mob and coincidental witnesses who are when thrown in this situation voluntarily[1]and actively participating in the “work of art”. When basic feelings and reason prevail a different path becomes necessary. Despite obvious strategies that can be used in these situations such as:

  • Taking the position of the informed insider with wan smile as a legitimation;
  • Quick escape followed by self-persuasion that you can never be careful enough with this art stuff;
  • Disapproval, anger and rage all nurtured by that wan smile of informed insiders,

elite spirits must oppose elitist manipulative strategies and face the void and disenchantment all by themselves.

This individualist (autistic even) standpoint is paradoxically one of the necessary conditions for overcoming the capitalist-realistic context. Addressing arbitrarily formed publics is an ideology of the most trivial sort. “Engineering/manufacturing consent” is the dominant strategy that capitalist regime through mass media and other levers of control applies on masses/publics for more than a hundred years. Applied through art media on traditional art public, this strategy is not so successful. Therefore it is not surprizing that one of the predominant contemporary capitalist-realistic art tactics is to offer the elite art public the insight in the functioning of the “Engineering/manufacturing consent” doctrine (more often the “Engineering/manufacturing consent that looks like dissent” doctrine) on other supposedly intellectually and otherwise inferior groups/publics and this way provoke enchantment that is so indispensable in art.

The use of propaganda tricks, the simulation of consumeristic rituals, the travesty of art sites into temples of consumption, the attacks on cultural artefacts and values etc. are declaratorily confronting new publics with new art that will supposedly shock them or learn them a lesson. Ideally it could win them over. Essentially the majority of people attending these events are not the public but involuntary and unpaid actors and walk-ons. The real public is a group of insiders, a sophisticated minority that contemplates and contextualises the event/an art work.  They document it to rematerialize it in some way to get it in the right shape for museumisation and commercialisation. Those sophisticated minority members don’t evaluate the reach of the art act reliant on their own confrontation with it but foremost through psyho-sociolgical speculation about possible and real effects the art act will have on reached so-called publics and the amount of amusement, trill and shock these possible and real effects will provide to curatorial feuds and gallerist lobbies.

Despite of so declared different ideological positions the main characteristic of this art is a mere apologetic, mimetic representation. It imitates mass media that sells concentrated and homogenised publics to advertisers. In such art this strategy of mass media is applied less ambitiously, on smaller publics and only inside the so-call “Art world”. The source of techniques, models and inspiration for such cap-realistic mannerism is the existence and functioning of capitalist economic and political system. It is not subversive, it is affirmative. I deny “contemporary rebel and subversive” art because it is co-opted in the art system only if it is futile. I claim that futile quasi-critique and aimless confrontation are necessary preconditions for access to museums, galleries, biennials, art fairs and other spaces for “en-art-ment”.  Nearly everything that bears the name “contemporary art” is completely improper for creating conditions for social change and it appears mostly as a formal, mimetic and “art for art’s sake” reproduction of a virtual progressiveness. How could we otherwise explain the ignorance of the “Art world” towards the actions of the Wikileaks collective. Instead of the retrospectives in MOMA, New Tate etc. they solely received the support of individual artists and some art collectives such as Wikileaks artforce.

I can add as a good illustration to my thesis above that they were soon futilely imitated by Artleaks. If opus of Julian Assange and his comrades is not part of “contemporary art”, then “contemporary art” is completely and ridiculously useless and even harmful. Neither the uncompromising, direct, brutal, primal, raging, guerrilla confrontation of Pussy riot nor the prudent, market oriented, targeted, tendentious, aestheticist,  martyr-like critique from Weiwei stands the individual lonely gaze from a member of the Public itself. I oppose all attempts to naturalise art. Art is artificial. There is no phenomenon more anthropomorphic than art. In Anthropocene everything is artificial; genome, economic system, even tsunami. I search for a break through the intertwinement of the real-capitalist ideology and cap-realistic art ideology. The cycle of twelve magnificent transformative gadgets contains twelve objects that look exactly like panel paintings at the first glance as well as after prolonged and thorough observation. The exhibition will confront you with an instrument, a stimulator, an experiment, a game, the certificate of birth, a simulator, a visual sampler, a finder, a de-contextualiser, the thing in itself, a weapon and a detector. Are they panel paintings or not is of the same unimportance as it is unimportant if the Brillo box is a box of Brillo or if the Fountain is really a urinal. But if we take a standpoint in accordance with the dominant contemporary ideology all these distinctions are crucial. A painting re-installed in the art context (a painting that like a ready-made reappears in art) could really become subversive.

An object appears in art. Art that is commodified and de-materialised on the one hand and substituted with popular culture, permutations of social sciences and popular philosophy on the other. This object looks like an artefact which is disputable as an object of art. If an artefact is disputable and the painting as an artefact is disputable as an object of contemporary art, then a gadget (a thing) which is a simulacrum of a painting bears the possibility of overcoming the above stated “das Unbehagen in der Kultur”.  The overblown context around it must burst so for a moment it ends up in a vacuum. Gadgets are created for this moment and at this point ripe for the confrontation.

Janez Kardelj

[1]Here I’m using the term ‘voluntarily’, as it’s used in the real-capitalist jargon, i.e. predominantly for unpaid, semi-forced labour.