Free School for Art Theory and Practice


Exhibiting Normalization. Seminar with What, How and for Whom / WHW

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Promoting Dissenting Ideas as a Form of Education. Ivet Ćurlin and Natasa Ilić Interviewed by Bea Hock

 

October 19–22, 2006; Little Warsaw’s Studio, Bulcsú Street, Budapest

 The name “What, How and for Whom,” which the collective WHW adopted from the name of its first exhibition, dedicated to the 152nd anniversary of the Communist Manifesto and organized in Zagreb in 2000, refers to three basic questions of every economic organization—what, how and for whom—operative in almost all segments of life. What: the problem of how many of every possible good and service will be produced with limited resources and social input. How: the choice of certain technology according to which each good, chosen by answering the question what, will be produced. And the question for whom: that concerns the distribution of goods among the members of the society. Of course, these are questions that also concern the planning, conception, and realization of an exhibition, as well as the production and distribution of artworks or artists’ position in the labor market.

The topic of the seminar will be to explore the tactics and approaches through which exhibitions can challenge and deconstruct omnipresent strategic systems of representation of national identities, particularly those marching towards self-fulfillment in the recently historicized narrative of progress towards the free market and the holy grail of liberal democracy. The key question is: how to create critical projects that will not become prisoners of their own “will to influence” but will stay open to the play of contradictions and enable constant re-investigation of representational strategies, exhibiting forms and actions in public space, at the same time working out various kinds of parallel “cultural policies” and infrastructures.

In Croatia, as in the wider region, complex relationships emerge between issues that are ignored, made unfashionable by their lack of “New Europe glamour” and non-marketability, swept under the carpet or even openly suppressed, such as the collective relationship to the past and the construction of history, economic transition, questions of national identity and nationalism, post-war normalization, pro-EU orientation, and the status of ethnic minorities (primarily Serbian) in contemporary Croatian society. During the seminar, we shall discuss approaches taken by several recent WHW exhibitions such as “Side Effects,” “Collective Creativity,” “To Be Put Up For a Public Debate,” and “Normalization, Dedicated to Nikola Tesla,” and the ways exhibitions and art projects can be used to feed off “cultural industries” in order to implant discussions on relevant social issues into broader public discourse.

 

What, How and for Whom/WHW is an independent team (its members include Ivet Ćurlin, Ana Dević, Natasa Ilić, Sabina Sabolović, and designer and publicist Dejan Kršić) formed in 1999, that organizes different production, exhibition, and publishing projects. Since 2003, WHW has been directing the non-profit gallery, Galerija Nova, in Zagreb, Croatia.