Damir Žižić and Kristian Kožul are proud to announce their exhibition in Split, The Recurring Landscape, an installation which is part of a cycle. The motifs of the elements built into the gallery landscape belong to imaginary costal tourism and leisure, while the form of its presentation and its materials is taken from the world of trade and marketing. Beside drywall panels and metal structures – the materials which are used by the architecture of temporary commercial space (fairs, congresses), there are also visual elements well known to advertising techniques, from jumbo billboards to the ways of presenting an assortment of products in their individual settings or arrangements. However, their visual statements also include ironic detachment, making the primary commercial function of their adopted aesthetics useless, therefore pedestals have holes in which objects are half hidden and half exposed, while in lightboxes light illuminates interior space, rather than 'advertising' toward the outside, as usual.
Žižić/Kožul confront the language of the arts and marketing, two different fields which operate with similar materials – human emotion, perception and visual information. Starting from the 60s of the last century, both sides have recorded a very dynamic exchange of concrete experiences and strategies thanks to the intense post-war development of consumer society on the one hand, and the contributions of neo-avant garde art (pop art, minimalism, conceptual art) on the other. In modern culture there exists the visible phenomenon of the disappearance of the boundary between art and marketing (Slowinska, M.A., Art/Commerce, 2014) and its almost identical aesthetic forms, such as the 'flash mob' – a kind of public performance which is used as a PR tool in advertising campaigns (T-Mobile) or as a work of art exhibited in museums (the Improv Everywhere collective).
The gallery landscape, which is constructed out of numerous motifs which are often repeated in media messages, presents a generic place and does not refer to any specific location. As the authors themselves say, 'the motifs are connected with a lack of authenticity,' which emphasizes the current, simplified view of the tourist economy in the post-transition situation where tourist offers are based on 'the sun and sea' as the main and only goods. The installation, with its choice of motifs, reminds one of the disintigrated elements which construe the textbook of marketing concepts which try to sell us a potentially unforgettable experience of one future vacation, although the attractive experiences of exotic plants and romantic folding water are disrupted by photographs of uncomfortably strong sun rays, as well as the general artificiality of the visual whole.
In the economy of the 21st century, the most valuable economic offers are unforgettable experiences. As required, the experience economy (Pine, B.J. and Gilmore, J.H., The Experience Economy, 1998) - a leading marketing paradigm which tells us about the experience needed in order to engage us in a unique and memorable way, is a subjective experience which is the most important competitive advantage in tourism and other various forms of entertainment. The very fact that we are growing addicted to tourist destination offers does not necessarily speak to our need for relaxation, but to our desire for unforgettable experiences that we can share with our loved ones. Today, the need for entertainment and experience lies far beyond the pleasure in buying products and services, while tourism marketing is not trying to learn what the customer wants, but how to manage his or her expectations.
Experiences are complex constructs which generally imply both positive and negative emotions. Žižić/Kožul examine both the mechanisms involved in their formation and recording, asking whether they are really as unique as we assume, and the location of the line between authentic and adopted material. The experiences that we structure and permanently archive in our memory can hardly be called authentic, since humanity gives its most intense moments a key role, while others are discarded by aligning them with initial expectations often constructed on the base of seductive commercials. Rationality of human behavior in the field of marketing does not often occur, so it is worth wondering whether we retain a real or assumed picture of an annual holiday and if the experience of remembered pleasure ever really took place. Tourist destinations are utopian places, and the sensations offered by the commercial world are fantasies which become genuine moments once we decide to participate in them.