Lucian Comoy: Slovenia explores Balkan identity

Slovenia and Bosnia are both much preoccupied in this Biennale with nationhood and identity, but in different ways: Slovenia has a strong ethnic unity while Bosnia’s is a very diverse one, despite all the bloodletting. Slovenia’s Jasmina Cibic, takes an historically precise approach in "For our Economy and Culture", using dialogue from period archives, and filming in official state buildings, to examine the contradictions inherent in the transmutation of national identity from time to time and place to place. The two films, one, a 1957 parliamentary debate about suitable artworks for public buildings, the other, a staged interview between journalist and architect, are shown in rooms lined with wallpaper printed with a beetle motif, obsessively repetitive images of an endemic Slovene beetle discovered in 1933 and named Anophtalmus hitleri in a fit of enthusiasm by its philo-German discoverer.

Bugs on the wall—Jasmina Cibic, For our Economy and Culture, 2013

Not only has this caused taxonomists much heartache since (taxonomic conventions have it that no names be changed) but the poor beetle has been almost wholly exorcised at home because of its embarassing name. A series of bland flower pictures used to decorate offices in the state assembly, forming the “stage scenery” for the political show they witness daily, completes the exhibition. A thoughtful and thought-provoking exhibition, requiring engagement if one is to glean anything useful from what at first sight appears a rather dry intellectual exercise. It’s all a bit earnest and solemn, but hey, that’s the Slovene soul. Worth seeing

Lucian Comoy is the director of Words of Art and a correspondent for the Antiques Trade Gazette

Published Fri, 31 May 2013 14:45:00 GMT

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