The first act of Jasmina Cibic’s new project “Nada” fans out from a biographical thread of architect and artist Vjenceslav Richter whose archive, thanks to the donation of his wife Nada Kareš Richter, is part of the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb’s collection.
As an architect, Richter was one of the key figures in charge of the artistic and visual representation of the Yugoslav pavilions at world expositions. He designed national pavilions for two world exhibitions in which Yugoslavia participated after the World War II. He was also the co-designer of the Zagorje villa in Zagreb, which was built for the former Yugoslav president Tito and is now the official residence of the Croatian President.
Cibic translates Richter’s architecture into a character within a rhizomatic narrative about the methodologies of the construction of Yugoslav identity and its relation to the idea of aesthetics as the gatekeeper of the presentation of a political system to the international community of spectators, headed by diplomacy and leading politicians. Heavily leaning on the idea of the pleasure principle, Cibic focuses on the concurrent and parallel positions of female presence surrounding the architect, who had been chosen to invent an adequate frame to present the State’s spectacle. These female figures were primarily the State itself - his client, his wife Nada - an actress who followed him throughout his world travels, and his three anti-gravitational sculptures of the same name created as a response to the censorship of his core artistic thought, which was, according to archival sources, imposed on him by the leading state ideologue Edvard Kardelj.
The central element of project Nada is Richter’s first, but unrealized design for the Yugoslav Pavilion at the 1958 EXPO in Brussels. Cibic appropriates and recreates the pavilion as a sculpture, which in turn functions as the skeleton of her new short film, around which the exhibition is centered.
In the single channel video installation, violinist Dejana Sekulić continually tunes the architecture according to the Miraculous Mandarin, a musical composition for ballet by Béla Bartók which was chosen to represent Yugoslavia at the most important dates of the pavilion – its National Days – whose role was to maximise the attention and the number of visitors. The fact that the Yugoslav state chose the Bartók ballet as its representative moment is in itself intriguing since the ballet had been repeatedly banned by numerous political systems due to its explicit subject matter – the conflict between a prostitute and her pimp and clients.
Alongside the single channel video installation, which will be shown in Richter Collection, Jasmina Cibic’s installation also presents a series of collages. They take the form of a study for costume design and scenography for the second act of Nada, which will present a recreation of the original 1958 Mandarin ballet performance in the Yugoslav Pavilion at the Brussels EXPO. The series presents portraits of a dancer wearing recreated costumes whilst re-enacting poses drawn from art-historical representations of various female Nation State allegories. Through these allegorical representations , the work alludes to the psychological mechanisms that power structures utilize throughout their conception and maintenance of their spectacle.
Jasmina Cibic's work is site and context specific, performative in nature and employs a range of activity, media and theatrical tactics to redefine or reconsider an existent environment and its politics. Cibic is specially focused on analysing how art and architecture can serve as soft power strategies securing the construction and maintenance of patriarchial spectacle of State.
For more information about the project PERFORMING THE MUSEUM visit: http://performingthemuseum.net/site/
This project is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia and supported by Nomad, Zagreb.
Film Nada Act 1 is produced by Waddington Studios London.
Exhibition set-up, photographed by Damir Žižić