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Galerija Rigo
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Art & Photography
Ivan Picelj
Josip Pino Ivančić
Vlasta Delimar
Silva Potočki
Danijel Žeželj / Stanislav Habjan
Media Scape 8
Renate Kasper

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Josip Pino Ivančić
Record as a Art, art as a Record
Josip Pino Ivančić, Record as a Art, art as a Record
21. VII - 2. VIII. 2006.
Theoretical Remarks Contributing to the Understanding of Pino Ivančić's Activist Poetics
Pino Ivančić has long been active on the art, music, labour and street scenes in Istria and throughout Croatia. His presence in all these places impressively and provocatively affects the spectator-participant, leaving him all but indifferent. On the other hand, the author does not record a systematically articulated story that would place him in or displace him from the framework he actively inhabits. Inasmuch we are on a special assignment. There are many possible approaches to this story, but, this being the first more extensive presentation of Ivančić's work, we shall give it a try by choosing an angle exhibiting the points of interference in his performances.
We depart from the assumption that the experience of understanding or the intentional linking of the artist with the context of reality is crucial for this discussion. That is to say, that our outlook must not be detached from reality. What does this imply?
Firstly, it implies that understanding is contingent on the simultaneous presence of the historical and the situational. Secondly, that the thus understood experience of art induces participation (a sense of being a part of the world). Thirdly, that an autonomous notion of beauty is being disqualified, which represents the long anticipated, radical break with tradition of idealism. Because beauty has associated itself with the reality cognizable by experience. Fourthly, it implies that interpretation, with a view to clarity, is merely an attempt, never final. Fifthly, that the anthropological fundaments of the phenomenon of art are being disclosed. Sixthly, that the social agent constitutes the new viewpoint of the ex-centric situation of artistic creation. And seventhly, that there is no such thing as self-evidence, because there is no speech but purely and simply - communication.
The fact that Pino frequently stressed the living he makes at the Pula shipyard, Uljanik, is no farcical flirting with the audience, the art critics, the social reality or politics. Rather, this is an immeasurably important code in his artistic speech and movement. There are but a few of his works, performances, or actions which lacked the feeling of a strong, unbreakable tie between social reality, the naked facts of life and the man anonymising his labourer-artist role to a point where it turns into its own opposite. Even into an individual extreme in terms of character. A chaotic series of consecutive memories of Pino's performances, of randomly chosen scenes evoking the same memories, and a constant lack of writings about his artistic work gave birth to the idea, as intentional as blurred, that the word artist is at the same time as much a necessary as an artificial prefix to his name. But even if Pino is an artist, it is more precise to say that his philosophy of life is a sort of comprehensive activist poetics which is not divided into a time for labour, for creativity or for leisure. We seem to have gotten closest to the already abused concept of postmodernism, on which art theory has already passed its judgement, and which we shall briefly recall by referring to the Canadian theoretician Linda Hutcheon, who regards postmodernism as a cultural process or activity that escapes a definitive or a strict definition. She opts for the term poetics which emphasizes the open character of the constantly shifting theoretical structure. This directs us away from the study of artistic discourse and toward the study of cultural theory and practise in the widest sense. Inasmuch, both art and the theory in art become a part of the poetics of postmodernism. Adopting the concept of a cultural process or activity instead of the closed theoretical systems (containing definitive or strict definitions) brings us closer to the understanding of art as a social phenomenon in which the aesthetical and ethical fields of action are (necessarily) intertwined. This is the point of departure I would like to suggest when reading Pino's work. The obnoxious character of many of his performances, for example when he uses blood or excrement, raises ethical questions, and it is not so much the truth as reality itself that seriously competes with the wealth of illusioned wishes being offered to us. With blood and turd Pino stains the devalued beauties proliferating like fungi in the humus of pumped-up profit, indicating more than provoking.
As performance is at the same time the primary form of artistic communication for Pino Ivančić, we should recall the reasons for his particular relation to the aforementioned alliance of the aesthetical and the ethical. The history of performance, as we know, is the history of the transformation of an artistic object into an event. If we take into account that in the case of Pino this is a sort of theatralisation of a primarily ordinary, everyday situation, the mentioned connection between reality and art once again proves to be inevitable. What we must by no means be puzzled by, is the nature of Pino's mythologization of reality. As a rule, his performances reduce a mass phenomenon to an individual case which - drawn from the environment of collectivist blindness to the wasteland of isolation - is read as an excess.
In October 2000, in front of the Pazin Memorial, the author performed the slaughter of a turkey. It is no wonder that animal protection and environmentalist societies protested against such a performance, though it is significant that in this very town there is a factory processing poultry, inevitably slaughtered beforehand. But is art reserved for the expected good, so that making an exception causes the expected context of its impact to collapse? Or is the absurdity evident at the level of the forementioned grave disproportion in the treatment of an act, reflected in the fact that killing by the thousands is almost normal, whereas a single murder is a crime? The question remains open. On another occasion, in August 2000 in Rovinj, the police intervened upon a call from a local minister from the St. Euphemia church, interrupting Pino's performance entitled Everybody carries his own beam. The act of carrying a beam in a symbolic Calvary (up a steep street leading to the church) and the artist's concept of enclosing the image of his body in an improvised picture frame laying on the ground strikes us as an unusual provocation directed against the legend of Christ, with some extra spice added. This spice of irony lies in the frame, in the formally defensive act, the strategically provocative confession about the ghettoization of a myth. What is enclosed in a frame, in a section, a title or a margin looses its active ability of spilling - God forbid - into an area under lesser control. Pino is playing a game of tautology. On the one hand, he speaks gently and shyly about the human destiny of Man-God, while on the other, he dares to place his story, however humorous its frame component may be, before a temple of God, and this without a permit, as the police record of the event states.
Subversive, ironic, ambivalent on the pendulum moving between the extremes of the banal and the sublime, Pino Ivančić embarks on a pilgrimage through the streets, believing that you move borders only when you come close to everybody.
If we return to the theoretical discussions, if we dig deeper into philosophical essays on the history of modern art, the hermeneutical method developed by Hans-Georg Gadamer will lead us to a very adequate way of understanding Pino's art. The hermeneutical dimension of meaning pertains to an endless conversation going on in the ideal community of interpretations. The dialogue schema preserves its fruitfulness in the correct application and exchange of forces, as well as in the contrasting of viewpoints, through which a community is built that surpasses the individual and the group he is a member of. The plurality combining opposed forces into the unity of a whole is summed up in the concept of play, and the player who does not take the game seriously, spoils the game, writes the philosopher in Truth and Method. Further, in his Essays on the Philosophy of the Arts the idea of the symbol is attached to the reflexive concept of play. The symbol is a sign of recognition whose uncertainty of reference makes us aware of the importance that the matter has. Finally, here we find the idea of the festival, marking the abolishment of isolation in a community. So this is about revealing the anthropological fundaments upon which the phenomenon of art rests, and from which, as Gadamer says, we must set out when elaborating its new legitimation. This includes the necessity to ask what results from the unity of the past and the present we have decoded. In view of the fact that in the second half of the 20th century the fundamental premises of the self-conception of the visual arts have become fragile, and thus the assumption that a painting is a scene has become naive, our perception of art can no longer be purely receptive. In the demand of the new artist there is a social agent. The artist is busy initiating the new attitude toward art - which at the same time constitutes the basis for his own creation - as a new solidarity, as a new form of communication with everybody. Inasmuch, it is by no means accidental that in his work he surpasses the tension between customary expectations and the new habits which he himself defines and introduces.
I first met Pino in 1998, when I was selector at an exhibition of works by members of the Istrian branch of the Croatian Association of Artists that included Pino. I was puzzled by the solid (and almost solidary) restraint the participants displayed with regard to the brutal reality of that post-war period. Aesthetic play and the unravelling of traditional versions in the gathered material seemed like an island of artistic refugees in the shitty sea of reality. Only Pino Ivančić brought a pile of dried excrement, some of canine and some of human origin, and his work entitled My town is full of doggie do and human shit, extremely real and deeply social, was uncontestedly selected for the exhibition.
Let us return to the previously mentioned need to lift the line separating the aesthetic and the moral fields of action and touch upon one more noteworthy book - Contingency, Irony and Solidarity by Richard Rorty, a contemporary American philosopher. He is among the influential authors pleading for a poetization instead of a rationalization or scientification of culture. A poetized culture, he writes, as opposed to the scientificated one, demands no universal validity of certain vocabularies, enables a redescription of liberalism and the recognition of contingencies, and all that for the benefit of individual freedom and human solidarity.
Since in this humble theoretical contribution to Pino's activist poetics we only have limited space at our disposal, we must conclude by introducing the idea of irony. Its creator, the ironist, comes up with a repeated description instead of a conclusion in the open context of reality. To do so, the artist uses old, familiar things. In recognizing old things in new descriptions, a deepening of insight occurs, which is particularly important for the need we are experiencing as the need for solidarity with other people's pain.
Nataša Šegota Lah, May 2006

Almost Buddhistic
Teach us to care and not to care
T. S. Eliot

First of all, life is a parade. And then, labour is the ferment of this parade, subject to natural disasters, accidents and also to art. Pino is a cavalier of that discourse. To put it more precisely, he is the true troubadour of the physical conditions of labour, and therefore also of the humanistic dreams dreamt exemplarily and regularly by the arts. But nothing goes without men like Pino, who is an artist of the hand and the heart, by all means. Likewise, superfluousness is adorned with Pinoesque personalities, even if this superfluousness, or rather: these superfluous entities have faces of creativity and rebellion that never take on an artistic expression, that earthly yet heavenly, lofty face of art. It is clear from the very beginning that this is not about a circle, so large and respected for its viciousness: bread and circuses. Although everything important takes place in the immediate neighbourhood, i.e. the idealism and the pragmatism of life.
Let me state the facts: Pino is (was) chiefly married to the "Uljanik" company, a miserable and corrupt anti-factory, neither better nor worse then others in the region. A fifth wheel, a dime a dozen, a fly in the ointment - these old-fashioned figures of speech describe the (initial) position of a (conscious) worker, and in addition a '68 hybrid worker-artist, who on a beautiful day in late May got betrayed by his fellow workers and delivered to the enemies of imagination, the profiteer politicians. Art cannot be analysed when the single and unique method of analysis lies in the artist's heart and hand. In his oeuvre Pino is to a great extent an actionist or performer. Since he presents himself as a being from two worlds: labour and art, for us spectators he remains a firm and convinced biped. And I believe he will not fall over, more than that - if he falls, he will not be taken in by the career, vanity and conceit of the marketed truth. Yikes... Irony is sad, we all know it, even those who do not know it. Humour is a blitheful salvation, this we know too, even if we may be incapable of it. The irony and the humour in Pino's masterly hands confirm the fineness of honesty and that the only power is, let us say, music. It is superfluous to discuss moral issues here.
"The issue is not simply to be creative, but to place one's creativity at the service of critical consciousness." (D. Kuspit) Here we are on Pino's dynamic trail. The quoted author is an American, but this does not matter, because they too have some smart people. In a comment to his own book The Cult of the AvantGarde Artist, Kuspit simply says:
"Anybody can be creative and make interesting photographs or objects that would engage somebody or other, but not many people can make works of art that can make one critically conscious of the world." And he continues: "This is the problem with creativity in postmodernity: it serves no important psychosocial purpose, that is, does not address any developmental-existential issue that has become a particular problem in the lifeworld, and it tends to blow up a half-truth into a whole truth." These are so-called alibi-truths, such as technology, its progress, etc.
Actionism is a term describing processual artworks and events in which a contemporary artist plays the roles (and wears the masks) of the author and the participant. There are other, parallel names covering more or less the same sort of activity, e.g. body art, performance, happening. Such actions often have the character of rituals, in which the human body or animal bodies are used to achieve an expressive-symbolic event. Against this horizon the auctorial appearance is visible. The presentation of an action as a work of art is always a strong, a very strong message to the society it emerges in. Expressionist elements are dominant in all the summoned forms of work, and self-censorship mostly defends the last lines of behavioural social conventions. Therefore such works are frequently accepted with difficulty, not accepted at all or misunderstood; they are often interpreted as totally stripped acts whose possible brutality has no connection with the symbolism in which every society is and should be mirrored from time to time (more or less, this embodies the western cultural hypocrisy).
In the described context, action is an event in space and time, conceived and realised by the author who essentially leaves the field of creating completed artworks as objects of admiration, appreciation, identification, and trade. After having been carried out, this work (action, performance) is reconstructed with the help of textual and visual documents. But also with the help of rumours - of accusations arising from an insufficient understanding of the things in question; and when ignorance rules, it creates incidents, scandals and other circumstances that are hardly helpful to the artist, let alone a benevolent civilisational echo from civil people (I mean those not more indoctrinated by politics then the permitted critical mass allows).
As a conscious individual working for a long time in such an open, questionable and provocative way, Pino certainly expects no citizens' acclamation but no threats and condemnations either.
But if we depart from the maxim that everybody does as he can and as fate would have it, and if the prominent plaintiffs in the case of the artist Pino depart from themselves accordingly - everything will turn out almost tolerant and brotherly: he does that, we do this, you do that. It is of paramount importance and a notorious achievement that no man threaten another man's integrity, and there is no disputing about tastes anyway. In a subtler economy of award and punishment everybody does his thing, and there is no need for sanctions, especially if the issue is one of sanctioning somebody's living conditions by those who are (by the way: rightly so) different. Difference is pure wealth, and not a (social) problem.
Workers are corruptible, we know that. Let us recall the start of the May events in Paris. Say, a small amount is at stake, but come on, the family is waiting, spoilt or not... And then, in such a situation (just note the importance of form!) shaggy, long-haired revolt leaders are not aesthetically welcome, more acceptable is a clerk, an officer in a suit, with an orderly haircut. This is how it was. Life is no fairy tale, rebellions are no myths and the victims seem not to have faces. Aesthetics are mean and omnipresent, not neglected even by the most miserable among men or victims of capital profit. Aesthetics, inherited or whatever, is omnipresent in the viciousness of all the anthems, flags, emblems.
Consciously or unconsciously - my guess would be: unconsciously - Pino burns provocations and dry grass on these sacred fields and soils the teeth of the holy cows of any people's mass happiness. Therefore the non-immanent aesthetics / the form of his works will be empty, half-empty, significant in a garbage civilisation. A fluxus ascetic's counter-environmentalism.
There are at least two freedoms. And let us leave it at that. The first possibility: one is the freedom FROM something and the other is the freedom TO something. The second possibility: one is the freedom for oneself and others, and the other is a (inner) freedom of creation in some sort of continuity, as it were, including the whole colourful body of merchandise called ART. Let us take it to be like this, because it facilitates demystification - heavy demystification is worth nothing (and we wouldn't like to throw the baby out with the bath water). It is a fact that people of Pino's sort also consent to art or at least the context of art (labour, fluxus, actionism, insurgent justice, legality of individualism, freedom fanaticism).
To step it up, I will repeat an old poetry line: "Shall freedom be able to sing like the slaves sang about it?" (B. Miljković)
This is how we can get this over with (at least according to Martek): we should start admitting that art is partly ideology (nowadays this is becoming very dangerous). We should softly admit that every, even the finest anti-careerist loves his (professional) curriculum dearly. So, what are we to do with people who share Pino's views? We know: there is no loss, because it is built into our mind. Frustrations are to a great extent illegitimate, as follows from the aforesaid. The only thing that remains wide open and to be filled, I think, is: the freedom for something, no matter how cooled down or ancient or seemingly banal this something may be. Because for one, every real critique starts out by being a little serious, and then - this is to be emphasised - till the end of someone's life critique is unserious, free, non-frustrating, humorous, waggish. So: hail to critique when it is witty, inconstant like a woman, when it is not marked by pathos, identical to the everyday working happiness of a being (one struck, say, by art).
Each one of us remembers the many works of Pino; let us use this to connect things in an authentic manner and to understand/receive what this "anti-artist", "pre-artist" is offering us. To be unburdened and to enjoy what has been accomplished.
V. Martek, 2004.

Concept-work and Fact-work
In 1999, when i.j. Pino presented his performance Dante A... Elections in which he played the role of the bloody Diabolo, the eventual winner of that simulated vote alluding to forthcoming parliamentary elections, it was not by chance that he stated: "We are currently in a simulation of Hell, as every day of our lives is hell." Or, as he remarks in his manifesto Play... Balance..., exposing all rampant forms of a ruling power: "A dangerous thing, unrecognized by many in the government ranks, is its stupidity. They believe that they are the Just and the Normal, that they are morally intact citizens speaking on behalf of the Silent Majority" (cf. Riječi i slike/Words & Images, ed. Branka Stipančić, Zagreb 1995). Pino's infernal view of reality was also the topic of his contribution to the 2004 Pula International Theatre Festival (PUF), which was opened by his five-day performance Life is a Hot Pepper. For the full length of the performance, which spanned the entire duration of the Festival, Pino inhabited the shop window of a former carpet store. Among other things, he found an official photograph of J.B. Tito on the ground of this abandoned space, and its corresponding nail in the wall, which our master-performer used to restore the picture representing a political body of the ruling power, adding it to his five-day social environment. With this performance, with his public, exposed life, i.j. Pino broached the neo-avant-garde concepts synthesizing life and art, expressed in mottos such as life and art, life as art/theatre and art/theatre as life. The same goes for Pino's conclusion that the reality show concept is "TV marketing derangement of the masses, brainwashing, theft of money". What to some faithful members of the PUF audience seemed questionable in this performance, was the fact that the performer was not actually present in his temporary dwelling-living-arts space at all times. They expected (I do not know by what principle of life's logic) that i.j. Pino would spend literally all five days (and nights) in this by no means inviting room, not taking into account that this was a five-day living environment installation. After all, he had to go to the market to buy ingredients for his vegetarian cuisine (Pino is also known as the "Acorn Man") and to attend the PUF theatre shows - in brief, he had to execute everything that was part of the cacophonic performance of life.
But let us return to Pino's beginnings, and on this occasion I would like to expand on his individual performances visualizing the topic of labour, the factual, real labour as well as the conceptual one; labour as a concept but also as a harsh material fact. Now then, the beginning: the sixties, when Pino started to engage in art (sculpture) and subsequently entered the conceptual art and performance circles. We might be expect to commence with biographical facts like "IVANČIĆ, Josip, visual artist (Pula, 6 November 1951)", as a virtual article in the Encyclopaedia of Croatian Art (Zagreb 1995-96) should perhaps start. But, strangely enough, its pages omit any data on this "cultural worker", this "bard of free artistic creation", as Damir Čargonja – Čarli called him. Actually, this fact is neither odd nor strange, because the said Encyclopaedia contains no articles on action, happening or performance art either. It would, therefore, not be inappropriate to continue in a biographical order: in the seventies, i.j. Pino and friends created what he called mental spirit music. Being in a specific socio-political and cultural situation, influenced by Joseph Beuys, Pino initiated the process of social sculpture, which he defined (after Beuys) as the materialized idea of artistic action in a non-artistic environment - in industrial and urban spaces, in nature, in politics and the media, in education and agitation. At the same time, he conducted the freeing from imposed branches/frameworks/conditions, he made his step forward, off-art (cf. Josip Pino Ivančić: "Socijalni performans i nevidljivost 'provincije'", interview, Zarez, vol. 87, 12 September 2002).
Let us dwell a little on the first officially photo-documented action by i.j. Pino, or - as he likes to call himself - "the only AVANT-POP artist and the only worker-Artist or artist-Worker coming from the most immediate and the dirtiest labour environment". This Work-concept (1979) consisted of an exhibited work (worker's shoes painted white as a ready-made and wire sculpture) and an action he performed in the former Pula gallery "Salon", at the exhibition entitled Labour Creativity. During the opening speech, Pino produced a rather large collage-poster reading "work-concept is as valuable as WORK, double-underlined for your brains". What followed were, as Pino recalls, unfavourable reactions and petty innuendos from the visual arts section of the Worker's Society for Culture and Art "Uljanik", as well as "some brain surgery on the part of the established artists".
He continued to shape his socially aimed provocations started in 1978, for example through a series of reality-breakthrough actions entitled Enter the Overalls / Silent Act, in which he attended exhibition openings and other cultural events dressed in his daily working outfit, his everyday survival outfit (cf. Antun Maračić: "Iz trliža", interview, Studentski list no. 763, 21 March 1980). Let us recall another similar performance, Tuna Fishing (1986), originally a homage to Dalí's painting of the same name (Tuna Fishing, 1966-67), in which i.j. Pino again introduced labour iconography by translating Dalí's tuna into canned sardine, an everyday labour icon in the socio-political environment of the time (and still today), naturally served with a slice of bread in the shipyard's canteen. As the critic and commentator Teo the Teo wrote at the occasion of this performance in Studentski list:
"[...] the artist enters in his everyday working outfit, a can of tuna is also there. he stabs and pierces it with a huge knife. the exhibition is opened. the first installation blasts. when it comes to performances, many people surely do not understand that the word installation has nothing to do with electricity or telephony, but Pino proves that an installation still blasts." (Teo the Teo: "Majstore, pucaju li instalacije?", Studentski list no. 11 (940), 22 April 1987.)
And this is how Pino explains it: "The only thing a worker ever opens in socialism as well as in capitalism (and what I mean are the ceremonial openings of different buildings, events and the launching of ships) is his can of fish, beef or the like for lunch." (cf. Željko Jerman: "Čovik od žira", Jutarnji list, 23 February 2002.)
In some of his socially dedicated performances, such as the Dance of Carnations - Romantic Workers' Love Song, "Homage to Those Who Get Going at 6 AM", which was performed several times, for example at the 6th PUF (2000), i.j. Pino depicted his job as electrician at the Pula shipyard "Uljanik". In addition to using working clothes and tools (hammer, saw, welding machine: three workers/performers literally work on stage, while Pino and a number of performers mime his daily working routines), the master-performer also introduced factory sounds recorded at "Uljanik", translating all of the living actions he performs as artist-Worker at his workplace into those performed as worker-Artist, having even a few guards, which made him "feel safer", as he put it. With his engaged, manifesto-like fragment of the collective view of the world from a factory yard, he declared his solidarity with those for whom labour is reduced to automatic movements, as it was for himself at the time. Let us recall in passing, that the last scene of the Dance of Carnations, created as a "homage to those who get going at 6 AM", when some other people's alarm clocks aren't ringing, was marked by the moment when Pino handed out carnations to the performers/workers and by his final gastronomic act of eating one of the flowers.
The aforementioned step forward (off-art) found its autobiographical expression, for example, in the performance Everyone Carries his Own Beam (1999). At its beginning Pino appears wearing a suit. Putting the story-beam of his life into words, starting with the initial birth sequence and followed by the story of his education and inevitable first love affairs, he marks every station in this verbal performance by removing one attribute of the clean-bourgeois suit (persona) at a time - the tie, followed by the shirt, etc. When he comes to his first encounters with art, he weaves in a story telling that one part of life is always marked by this beam, and in doing so he translates the metaphor into a requisite by taking up a beam, shouldering it as he continues the story of the stations of his life. At one point, he nails another beam across the first one, forming a cross of course, continuing to narrate the story about the art and the art critic scenes, until he is entirely naked, disclosing his own beam. One year later Pino transformed this life-beam into a cross, in a performance entitled Relics of Relics / Reliquiae reliquiarum (Man on a Cross), which he presented together with the unavoidable Branko Gulin (Mr. G) at the Rovinj annual event Grisia in 2000. The final act, executed by the performing duo in front of the St. Euphemia church, was interrupted by the parish priest, Milan Zgrablić, who called the police because of Pino's imitatio Christi (on the cross), and by the police officer, who kicked Pino in the process (cf. "Otvoreno pismo Bozaniću i Lučinu", Jutarnji list, 17 August 2000). In spite of "everything", Pino participated in next year's Grisia with a performance entitled Sweep Before Thy Own Door First...
Pino conceived his performance ...Meet... - homage to Yin P. & all electricians (2000) as a little game among four men belonging to different social groups who are trying to seduce the Woman (Pino bravely played all four male parts). And every time he scored in the game, in the hunt, whenever he got the chick, his pray, he rammed a steel bar in the ground, so the Woman ended up in a cage, like hunted-down game. Or, as Nick Fiddes interpreted the references linking women with meat (Meat – a natural symbol, 1991): In a similar fashion, the so-called "office wolf" or the stereotyped worker whistling at passers-by are named according to the predatory relations they stem from. Pino, the Man-Hunter, eventually drew a wire around the steel bars, fastening it with clips he uses every day at work.
Let us move on to Pino's next worker's performance. In the introductory part of the 10th Labour Day Charge (2003), Pino mimicked social realism-styled sculptures holding hammer and sickle, accompanied by machine sounds. After this initial soc-real part, he read the story The Priest and the Devil, written by F.M. Dostoevsky on the wall of his prison cell in 1849. In the story, the Devil drags the Priest through working class slums to make him see what reality looks like, the unpainted, bare reality (at this point I would like to remind of Pino's performance Unpainted Reality of 2003, a version of the Dance of Carnations). The reading was accompanied by the Internationale and the sounds of machines and tools Pino used in his everyday work. It goes without saying, that the topic of work (labour) was also present in his performance Silent Majority (XII. Prvomajski juriš, Rojc, Pula, 2005) which he had conceived as a mass event, but he managed to gather only some fifteen volunteers divided into two groups, the first one consisting of readers dressed in overalls and the second one representing members of the "silent majority" with adhesive tape over their mouths. As musical background Pino used the songs Maljčiki (Idoli) and The Working Class Goes to Heaven (Haustor).
Let us round off this brief story of Pino's performances about labour and social issues by returning to Dante A... Elections (1999), even if it partly goes beyond the topics in question. Replicating Dante's Divine Comedy, three actors played candidates at parliamentary elections and symbolized the three stations in Dante's work: Hell (Pino as Diabolo), Purgatory (Branko Gulin as the mediocre or the silent majority) and Paradise (Enco Morović). In this way i.j. Pino renewed the belief in man, the individual which depends solely upon his own commitments and actions. It is not by chance, that at his exhibition In the End Comes the End... Harbour (Gradska Gallery, Zagreb 1999) Pino placed a rock from the bottom of the sea at the gallery entrance, forcing the visitors to step on it or at least brush it on their way in. This stone, symbolically marking the space of his work, represented a touchstone, a stone of contention, a stone of stumbling, a cornerstone, a boundary stone; at the same time it evoked the proverb "If somebody hits you with a stone, hit him back with a piece of bread", which in reality turned into the paradigm of revenge: "If somebody hits you with a piece of bread, hit him back with a stone". In the exhibition context, the sea rock, as interpreted by master Pino, literally signified a contact with the stone - either by stumbling over it or by brushing it; or symbolically - to let it touch us, disturb us, to draw our attention in whatever way.
i.j. Pino also brilliantly illustrated the topic of conceptual labour in his animal symbolism performance Walking a Poodle - We are Happy Family (2005), in which he played the role of a poodle taken for a walk in Rovinj's Grisia street by a gentleman dressed in a ready-made suit and a lady wearing a gown. Let us recall that in Goethe's Faust Mephisto appears as a black poodle – or as Peter Sloterdijk puts it, Mephisto chooses the symbol of the kynic philosophers' sect for his first appearance – and that the English word DOG, as Edmund Leach points out, gives GOD when read backwards. Pino only briefly played the role of the noble poodle - the Noble Castor, the dog standing for the boot-licking, servile, cringing, narrow-minded kind, against which in Kranjčević's poem only the stray dog with a crystal, "razor-sharp" spine raises a voice. By framing the diverging assessments and evaluations of his work from different "trades", Pino set this story into the framework of trendy petishism: It's trendy to own a dog, it is in. Why do dogs piss? To mark their territory, it's their signature, like a signature on works of art. People say: "I piss on your work." Unfortunately, this kind of being pissed upon by the critics is something Pino experienced many times. It was, incidentally, just this performance that brought him a first financial reward, a financial award of sorts. And finally: the performance in which Pino played the kynic role of a dog, thus opposing all majority cynicisms of society, can be seen as a follow-up to his performance Spit out Your Truth (1986). Dressed in his everyday overalls, he took up a bucket of some 10 kg of old bearing grease, just about the dirtiest stuff he could collect at "Uljanik", and applied the dripping technique in a worker's fashion - in the distant 1986, he grabbed the greasy dirt with his hands and spat out his own truth onto a wall. YOU can spit it out too!
Suzana Marjanić
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