Quixote is Eškinja’s dispositive of the utopian space of continuity and hope where illusion and reality compete to save the world in a post-romantic quest for an unbound imagination and spontaneity. Like Cervantes’ tireless character—dignified and idealistic, but also isolated and absurd Quixote—the artist conducts a séance of a “partial magic”: we are in a space of a dreamer and the dreamed one, within a myth, a secret. As an exploration of a mirage, Eškinja’s work is a quixotic endeavor per se, a perception of a reality as a poetic substance, and a reconsideration of what Foucault, while describing the knight errantry, identified as the boundary: the end of an old interplay between resemblance and signs.
Igor Eškinja’s geography of Quixote relies upon a subtle intervention of a quasi-archaeological nature, which alters the perception of an existing interior and guides the viewer through a maze of an octagonal space. The endless layering of matter and “folding” of historical meaning emphasizes the tactility of experience and refers to a vivid memory of the museum’s architecture. An oversized carpet covers the space like a hyper-real map of a too ambitious cartographer from a Borgesian story. Eškinja’s project in MUWA’s main interior creates a stage for a history to be unveiled, but also it activates a platform for a new story yet to be written. White walls and empty pedestals are spread through the space, marking a phantom-like presence of removed time and altered function. Occasionally used as storyboards for a minimal narrative gesture, they are reactivated witnesses of the former bathhouse’s historical fate. The fold of time and the curve of a history are enigmas of a current reality and the present. Drawings and cut-outs enhance the mystery of a missing (or vanished) content. On the other hand, the exquisite, guest appearance of “meanders,” the iconic conceptual works by the legendary co-founder of the avant-garde Gorgona Group, Croatian painter Julije Knifer (1924–2004), fills up Eškinja’s seemingly absent and strangely decadent frames with the acrobatics of vertical and horizontal lines and labyrinthine, severely geometric and abstract forms, performed almost exclusively in black and white. Thus reduced, ephemeral and monochromatic, this is Eškinja’s carefully orchestrated, meditative space of anti-picture, a neo-platonic negative in a mind of Cervantes’ tragicomic hero, Quixote’s ultimate radicalism. This, too, is the artist’s looped space of a meaning, a rewritten manuscript, yet another Pierre Menard, a hopeless author of the “Quixote.”
Igor Eškinja constructs his architectonics of perception as ensembles of modesty and elegance. The artist “performs” the objects and situations, catching them in their intimate and silent transition from two-dimensional to three-dimensional formal appearance. Using simple, inexpensive materials, such as adhesive tape or electric cables and unraveling them with extreme precision and mathematical exactitude within strict spatial parameters, Eškinja defines another quality that goes beyond physical aspects and enters the registers of the imaginative and the imperceptible. The simplicity of form is an aesthetic quality that opens up a possibility for manipulating a meaning. It derives, as the artist states, from the need for one form to contain various meanings and levels of reading within itself. The tension between multiplicity and void constitutes one of the most important aspects of Eškinja’s mural “drawings” and seemingly flat installations. A void is still an active space of perception; it does not conceal; it comments on the regime of visibility, it invites the viewer to participate in the construction of an imaginary volume in an open space. The temporary nature of the artist’s spatial structures and the ephemeral quality of his carpets (where ornaments are carefully woven out of dust or ash) manifest a resistance to the dominant narratives of institutional apparatus and socio-political order.
The Museum of Perception / Das Museum der Wahrnehmung MUWA
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