Truth on the fault-line

 

When writing an essay on the works of artists, I tend to try to have a sense of their world.  Because I believe that creative act as an intense encounter between the artist and the world outside, in order to develop an understanding of a work, it is necessary to use the artist’s worldview, her private as well as socio-political background as a part of the interpretative code. This does not mean that artists with an undisturbed and peaceful background are uninteresting, but it is a fact that traumatic experiences, political turmoils provoke the artist to radical and profound works. After the Balkan Crisis, the September 11, 2001 attacks on the WTC, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the electronic images have emotionally burdened the human mind and soul in such an extremity that the artist faces a different challenge to create a work.  Most of the time the strategy has been either to follow derivative images or events related to the main theme or to use the ambiguity of the language as an element of artistic manipulation. Andrej Ðerković also follows this strategy. His work is minimalist in its form, but complicated in its content. Contemporary art is full of examples of “empty spaces,” white on white paintings or boards, starting from Rauschenberg and reaching to its post-modern interpretations in monochrome installations. Evidently, these types of work had their perceptual effects and spiritual persuasions on the viewer. Squarely situated within the tradition of Modernism, they had the intention to create alienating environments that distance the viewer from the artwork as the sublimated object. Later in Postmodernism, they have begun to serve as the objects of ambiguous desire. White sheets of Brail alphabet that Ðerković offers us, however, lend themselves for a different reading. These look more like icons or intelligible tablets of knowledge than sublimated objects of spatial perception - although they do require or instigate the perceptual capabilities of the viewer. In this case the perceptual capability becomes the prerequisite of civil participation in a human drama. A drama that is not easy to grasp and digest. Ðerković approaches with a subdued interference, an act that encircles the incapability to overcome the impact of the reality and memory. Rather than directly attacking with a representative image, he prefers to retreat into a concealed image. In an age of trans-gressive post-human images that invites the attention of the media-corrupted viewer, this work elevates the gaze to an introvert and abstract journey.

In order to penetrate the pitch of human evil - undeniably and paradoxically omnipresent in this age of information - Ðerković makes metaphoric use of the white alphabet as that which illuminates darkness. The work proposes a reading with fingers rather than with eyes, as eyes are polluted by electronic images and repeatedly manipulated by assorted ideologies. In the quest for truth, performative abilities of humankind are preferred to the optical in the quest for truth. The iconic and tablet-like form of the work, both archaic and profound, is pitched against the actuality and obscenity of the horrible incident that it is signifying - an intentional juxtaposition, no doubt. The tablet-like form gives the work a museum depth, implicating the inevitable melting of the ethnic cleansing into the disastrous history of the Balkans. The Balkan Wars, also referred as the Balkan Crisis, are mainly described as the collision of religious ideologies - Orthodox Christianity, Western Christianity and Islam - with extreme nationalism creating a fault-line within this social formation. This fault-line indicates the fatal ambiguities endured with and through faith. Believers might insist that religion is the indispensable part of all civilizations, but for many others, the current world’s events, makes it difficult to follow this pattern. Ðerković’s works deal with the dilemmas, paradoxes, and abject situations happening precisely on this fault-line. For the last decade, his works have taken the form of interactive and perceptual installations and chronicles, whose structure and form reflect a representative approach related to his experience during and after the Balkan Wars. In recent years however, the emphasis have shifted to a more specific perspective into the events and traumas of the war, reaching to a point in this exhibition where he directly indicates the names of the disappeared people. His previous works also elevates the human drama in this region into a political statement with inquiring, scrutinizing and challenging content. In an interview Noam Chomsky says “Nobody is going to pour truth into your brain. It’s something you have to find out for yourself”. Yet, what artists like Ðerković are doing is to show the ways of how to find out; because for example, the truth about Srebrenica is still concealed and needs to be unearthed.

 

Beral Madra, Istanbul, 2004