Geography of Identity, Geography of Art

by Izabela Kopania

  • Is art important and why?
  • It is necessary as long as it aims at promoting the idea of good instead of creating controversies.

This short exchange between Vesna Bukovec, a member of Slovenia’s younger generation artists, and an anonymous respondent replying to a questionnaire prepared by the artist was illustrated with Zbigniew Libera’s work Final Liberation 2. The 22-year-old woman’s response to the artist’s question, however, was in no way evoked in response to Libera’s photograph. Final Liberation 2 was added by Bukovec later as a form of authorial commentary. It would be hard to find a statement that more literally questions the reasoning behind the creation and existence of Libera’s work than this response. After all, Final Liberation is not only a commentary on the use of information as a mean of manipulation and on apriori acceptance of the images of reality provided by the media, but it is also a negation of the Platonic triad, which continues to guide the public’s assessment of art works.

Zbigniew Libera and Vesna Bukovec share little in common. They are not products of the same generation, they express themselves on different issues, using different media, and they have different artistic credos. The one thing they do share is their origins – their geographic (and therefore political, economic, and cultural) affiliation: both represent countries that are part of a greater whole known as Central Europe. This context infuses the issues they address with new meanings. …

Vesna Bukovec, Is Art Necessary? Why?
Vesna Bukovec, from the series Is Art Necessary? Why?, digital prints, 21 x 29,7 cm, 2002-2005

… Questions about communication between the artist and art and the viewer that are present in the work of Dawicki reappear in Vesna Bukovec’s video Contemporary Art for Parents (2002). The Slovenian artist approaches this problem in a truly positivist manner. A chat with parents in which questions are raised about the mechanisms guiding the operations of the art market, the shaping of canons, and the notion of art itself is above all the recording of a calm discussion, free of didacticism, and based on a willingness to reach a common understanding. Bukovec’s work emphasizes more than anything the need for engaging in educational activity, working at the grassroots level, without which contact with art will always be made more difficult, impeded by a lack of understanding and knowledge, as well as the trivialization in public discourse of artistic endeavors, especially those undertaken by contemporary artists and the negation of the legitimacy of calling their work “art”. Although the conversation does not end on an optimistic note – the mother declares that she will never understand art, or in any case, this type of art – it offers convincing evidence that engaging in conversation is not only worthwhile, it is necessary. …

Vesna Bukovec, Lecture (Contemporary Art for Parents)
Vesna Bukovec, Lecture (Contemporary Art for Parents), video still, 2002

… In response to Vesna Bukovec’s question is art necessary and why?, illustrated by Zbigniew Libera’s work, once can say in full confidence that it is necessary as long as it activates in the viewer critical judgments about reality that do not allow it to be caught up in the superstructure of ideology, whether this is proclaimed loudly or smuggled in quietly. And not only in Central Europe.

Featured text is the excerpt from the text published in the catalogue of the exhibition Minimal Differences, White Box, New York, 2010; published by Galeria Arsenal, Poland

Full text available here

Works mentioned in the text:

Exhibition info

Slovensko | English

Vesna Bukovec deluje na področju sodobne vizualne umetnosti.

Je članica umetniške skupine KOLEKTIVA.