PEACE - RESTLESSNESS, Zagreb, Gallery of Matica Croatian, ambiental installation
Predrag Todorovic's ambient installation called Peace – Restlesnness is a succesful and contemplative achievement thanks to the surprisingly chosen motif that is far from our attention, Antun Augustincic’s Rider woman (Monument of Peace, also known as Peace). Todorovic made a witty gallery presentation as well as a media elaboration, replying the segment upon segment of the sculpture’s anatomy in the media of kitchen foil, and again put into the gallery, masterly supported by the light that embodies the atmosphere of unique spirituality. In attempt of the bold ‘’depathetisation’’, the elaboration ranges from the affirmation of the statue, over grotesque, until its nullifying. We bear the witness of the confrontations of the differences and oppositions: the contrary of the massive monument is an oil-lamp with a weak flame, small in size and in semantic matter, situated on the pile of old newspapers in the niche of the neighboring chapel-like room.
Decoding the rich semantic framework of the installation of which formative factors generate numerous references, literary references or any other superstructure, is not an easy task. The symbolism of the particular units of the installation is heterogenic, branched and split in different and opposite ways, that are not easy to put in neatly syntax classifications and configurations of the meaning. Disclosures of Todorovic’s ambitions can range from the political until totally intimate paths. But none of the interpretations will be unambiguous or one-sided, and will not depend on formative or combinatorics factors of the installation, as much as on the observer’s motivation and standpoint.
At first, we face the fact that the meanings of the equestrian statues in our country, fore-walls of Christianity, where the history was made by the equestrians with bloody swards pulled out, is rich in diversity and formed in stereotypes.
Wanted Todorovic this or not, the meaning and the value of any artwork is read from the cultural context and from the area where it was made and exhibited, so the layered historical ‘’clothes’’ and socio-political profiles a priori impose themselves as the ways of installation’s reading. The 5,5 meters high statue Peace was the gift of the Yugoslav government in 1954, globally known as one of the symbols of the main UN building, casted in bronze in Zagreb and put to the 10 meters high pediment of the marble from Brac. Croats were very proud in 1992 when Croatian flag was raised on that building, about ten meters far from the Augustincic’s statue, that stands there for decades, under which thousands of Croatian emigrants were then celebrating. It was also on the bill of 100 Yugoslav dinars since 1964.
Moreover, Todorovic’s installation was presented in the gallery situated in the basement of the Matica Hrvatska building. The basement, with its strong symbolism associated to the tombs, crypts, casemates or prisons, together with the institution of Matica Hrvatska, were strongly connected to the rises and falls of the modern Croatian history, and has a stronger associative potential than the Rider Woman itself.
Since we are dealing with Augustincic as a ‘state’ sculptor, an engaged artwork Rider Woman opens simultaneously questions about the consequences that the engaged artwork could have, how much it affects the contemporary world and in what size it is (ir)relevant today.
But, rejecting the non-artistic connotations of the artwork, we search the interpretative key in etymology of the project Peace – Restlessness. Assuming the fact that the equestrian represents a historical person whose statue was risen by consensus, the agreement of the people he was originated from or where he has ruled. In literature, the equestrian sculpture does not emanate military meaning, but it witnesses the perfect control of itself, as well as its surroundings. The equestrian is read like an example of peace, perfect control of himself and others, reconciliation and harmonization with its subordinates, Homeland, God and the Church, the person that has proudly showed up on the horse in serenity of soul. But in Todorovic’s interpretation of Peace, the horse is decapitated because of its height - only 1/3 of the sculpture’s height achieved to be brought into the gallery – so it looks like an animal without the rider, the ruler and the consciousness. Its stripped slough is truthfully replicated in segments in the media of the kitchen foil. The new statue is transparent and invalid because it lives of the specific gallery light – when it’s turned off, Peace disappears in the dark.
According to some interpretations, human heart is like a niche in the wall with the oil-lamp, so in this paradigm, the flame is read like existence, like smoldering of peace in every person, undoubtedly ephemeral, but unbroken. Human measure is reduced to something insignificant – the peace in human soul lasts as the flame in the oil-lamp, as long as there is oil, or until the atmospheric agents are favoring.
Installation can be also read like a story about the blown ego and about the ego with human dimensions preserved. From the Jung’s lecture point of view, the mostly recognizable by the equestrian is- the fear.
text: Ivica Župan
translation: Ivana Gabrić