In the drawing Game Spectators we can see a crowd of people arranged in rows; men wearing T-shirts, women with bare shoulders, some wearing glasses, others are also wearing hats. Despite their close proximity to one another, they are lonely. Only here and there we see an odd couple, everyone else is either staring into different directions or taking photographs. Judging by their faces, most of the male attendants are perfectly content, for they are a part of a privileged group, interested in sports events. At the edges, the spectators are roughly cut off, a feature that magnifies the effect of breathless anticipation. The grandstands are heaving with people, so the event must be important. There is only one vacant place amongst them.
Vesna Bukovec, from series There is no society without spectacle, Game Spectators, ink on paper, 29,7 x 21 cm, 2011
In today’s visual art we can observe a trend of returning to the starting point of visual creation – the drawing. To mention only the most prominent representatives of this tendency: Tracy Emin, Dan Perjovschi and David Shrigley. The drawing is, in comparison to other media, facing the world in a way that is friendlier to the observer. As it is considered as a classical visual art technique, it has the advantage that it can afford to be more radical with the message it is carrying.
In contrast with her previous works, Vesna Bukovec’s cycle of drawings There is no society without spectacle turns from the individual to the mass. She has exchanged her previously utilised continuous and smooth line of drawing without any illusionistic additions for a less fluent, sharper one. In her drawings, based on photographs found on the Internet, are protesters on Wall Street, spectators at Wimbledon, workers waiting to receive the news that they have lost their jobs, people queuing to buy an iPhone, rock concert visitors, praying children, people waiting to receive their food parcels. It was the most recent protests against banks in New York and elsewhere that encouraged Vesna Bukovec to think about the psychology of the crowd and the roles of individuals in it. She always uses a photograph for her intentionally schematic drawing, the message of which is by all means shocking and bites into the current reality. Any individual is but a part of the society and their behaviour is always submissive to the group. This is of course a completely normal occurrence, for a human is a social being, a socially defined animal. Subdued to these findings is the style of drawings that is close to the one we might recognise from a common user manual, or various warning signs, and is intentionally impersonal and conformed to the mass.
In these drawings, Vesna Bukovec summarises the current social affairs. She proves that social criticism is not completely void from the personal one. In the first three drawings we can see the luxury of today’s world and in the other three we see multitudes of those people who have not had the luck of being born into the world of wealth. One drawing is of a group of children with their hands pressed together on their chest, a gesture that suggests prayer. Despite the abundance and prosperity of the present era, people are increasingly unhappy nowadays – some of them for not having the latest iPhone, some for not being able to get a ticket for Wimbledon, others for not having food, and still others for not having a job. Part of the reason for all that is definitely religion, which has, in all its forms, supressed people and forced them to conform to the mass for thousands of years.
Vesna Bukovec, iz serije There is no society without spectacle, School Prayer, ink on paper, 29,7 x 21 cm, 2011
Featured text was written for the occasion of the solo presentation in the frame of exhibition cycle Art critics select organized by Slovenian assoication of art critics and Cankarjev dom in November 2011.
Curator: Jernej Kožar; artist: Vesna Bukovec
Works mentioned in the text: