Croatia at the Venice Biennale

Antonio G. Lauer a.k.a Tomislav Gotovac and performative collective BADco. will represent Croatia at the 54th Biennale di Venezia in the exhibition entitled One Needs to Live Self-Confidently… Watching, curated by WHW. The Croatian presentation will be in the Arsenale.

Tomislav Gotovac’s complex and multilayered projects, combining a range of different art practices, are considered pioneering and anticipatory in the areas of structuralist and experimental film, conceptual art, body art, and performance. The presentation of his work will include the key structural and experimental films, and series of photographs from the beginning of the 1960s through to the end of the 1970s. This selection of Gotovac’s work does not aim to ‘discover’ or canonise him internationally, but to show how relevant his work is today and to contextualise it beyond the usual representational clichés of the East European dissident artist.

BADco.’s artistic practice, operating at the intersection of theatre, performance and dance, engages with a redefinition of the performative act and of the established relations between the audience, performers and performance. The acronym of the name BADco.—’Nameless Author’s Assoc.’ indicates a consistently executed collective working model. The Venice installation, conceived as theatre by other means, will construct a field of friction between the power of images to engage with our collective imagination, to open or close the horizons of the future, and of different modes of spectating.

The red thread connecting the work of Gotovac with BADco.’s practice is the critical discourse based on the thematisation of the procedures of watching. Gotovac’s methods of observing refer to the structuring of a film, and they always imply the construction of reality as art. As he once said: “I am constantly bewildered by what lies between my eyes and what I am seeing”. In BADco.’s work the thematisation of the gaze springs from focused and continuous exploration of the relationship between the protocols of viewing and performing, their similarities and differences.

Antonio G. Lauer a.k.a Tomislav Gotovac (1937-2010) was an avant-garde film director and performer. He graduated in film directing from the Academy of Theatre, Film, Radio and Television in Belgrade. Gotovac made his first performances, films, collages and series of photographs in the early 1960s. His artistic activities combined visual art, the avant-garde, experimental, documentary and feature films, performance, body art and conceptual art. In addition to various individual and group exhibitions, performances and experimental film practices, Gotovac showed his films at local and international film festivals. In 2005, he changed his name to Antonio Lauer. The Croatian Film Clubs’ Association and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb published a monograph on his work in 2003.

BADco. is a Zagreb-based theatre collective. The collective, a confluence of interests in choreography, dramaturgy and philosophy, is nowadays made up of Pravdan Devlahović, Ivana Ivković, Ana Kreitmeyer, Tomislav Medak, Goran Sergej Pristaš, Nikolina Pristaš, Lovro Rumiha and Zrinka Užbinec. Since it was founded in 2000, it has systematically focused on theatrical and dance performance as a problem-generating rather than problem-solving activity – questioning the established ways of performing, representing and spectating. BADco. approaches the theatrical act as an unstable communicational exchange, a complex imaginary, challenging the spectator to look beyond the homogenising media reality and reclaim her or his freedom of spectating.

What, How and for Whom/WHW
What, How & for Whom/WHW is a curatorial collective founded in 1999 and based in Zagreb, Croatia. WHW has been involved in a wide range of production, exhibition and publishing projects. Since 2003, WHW has been curating the programme of Gallery Nova in Zagreb. In 2009, WHW curated the 11th Istanbul Biennial entitled What Keeps Mankind Alive?.

The exhibition is a collaboration with the Croatian Film Clubs’ Association and Zagreb Youth Theatre. It is funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.

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