Behind the Sea: Siniša Ilić

25.05.2024., 12:00-20:00

HDLU (Croatian Association of Fine Artists) DU, FLORA Gallery, Dubrovnik
Florin dom, Šetalište kralja Zvonimira 32, Dubrovnik

May 25 – June 3, 2024

Behind the Sea: Siniša Ilić

Media Library
Through the Back Door: Mia Ćuk, Dubravka Sekulić, Darinka Pop-Mitić

Curator: Zorana Đaković Minniti

Besides Siniša Ilić’s works, Orientation in 100 Revolutions and Low Tide, there will be a discussion about the October Salon and also several pieces from the October Salon Collection – The Department of Occasionality by Mia Ćuk, Old Maid by Dubravka Sekulić, Educational Mural on the Little-Known History of Painting by Darinka Pop-Mitić – and some archival material related to this Belgrade fine arts event will be displayed.
The exhibition and programme at the Flora Gallery are part of the curatorial-artistic research project called the Decade Collection, which started in 2017 and had its first edition at the contemporary art space Apoteka in Vodnjan. The collaboration between artist Siniša Ilić and curator Zorana Đaković Minniti developed primarily in relation to the artworks included in the October Salon Collection and those gravitating around the October Salon exhibition itself. This was one of the ways in which we accumulated experiences of artistic and curatorial positions that touched upon issues of collecting, institutional practices, “exhibiting” and a series of interrelations in the temporary environments of exhibitions/gallery spaces/discussions/guided tours and other forms of collaboration.
The context of Florin dom (Flora’s Home), a place and space for contemporary visual art, established thanks to the gesture of artist Flora Jakšić and the fact that it survives solely through the collective efforts of artists today, prompted us to think about the relationship between the two sections within this exhibition.

Behind the Sea shows the works of Siniša Ilić, carried out in outdoor settings, thereby drawing attention to the necessity and importance of parallel activities – not only those related to the interior, home, institution, but also those, perhaps more crucial ones, happening outside.

The first work titled Low Tide, a performance/action carried out in 2022, is a textile painting and its performance iterations in video form represent layers of reflection on the geopolitical position of the Mediterranean Sea, not only as the cradle of civilization but also the routes of people trying to cross the blue border of Fortress Europe under life-threatening conditions as indispensable workforce. The textile aims to initiate a collective performance, “overflowing”, covering and “swallowing” to create a brief experience of overload, (in)visibility and disorientation in space, of confronting a wave-like material that, after moving, escapes and is hard to control.

The second work, Orientation in 100 Revolutions, a performance/action from 2020, is another painting on textile, spanning one hundred square meters. The painting is an abstract, deconstructed map of the world. The narrative of the painting and its artistic references examine the relationship between image and text, namely how an abstract image is further marked and then read by other systems of signs and knowledge, specifically text and history. The painting was created as part of the performance action of the same name, where it functions as a performative object, on the thin line between a trigger for performing activity and an ‘oversized prop’, whose potential lies in the ability to cover all other objects in the performance space through collective action by the audience. This act of performance can be further interpreted within the framework of two textual contributions: a chronological-geographical-historical list of revolutions and social disturbances that have occurred in the past hundred years and an excerpt from Oskar Davičo’s novel The Poem, which mentions different groups, identities and entities whose words and actions are necessary for a rebellion to occur.

Both performative videos explore the use of oversized textiles as objects for painting and performance. The textile migrates from display windows on the walls and floors of the gallery to an interactive element in space shared by the performers and audience. The concept of these works is to evoke spontaneous or planned actions within a shared space that can be vague or structured, including planned actions or choreographed movements. The presence and movement of the textile/paintings within a performance space can create a sense of being overwhelmed or enveloped by visual and tactile elements, thus enhancing the overall multisensory experience for both the performers and viewers.

The second section is the programme Through the Back Door, in which the works of Mia Ćuk, Dubravka Sekulić and Darinka Pop-Mitić will be presented in the Media Library. If we approach exhibitions, collections, archival material and collaborations as sources of knowledge that influence and stimulate new learning processes, resulting from collective work, then this combined programme – consisting of discussions, lectures and an exhibition – is an attempt to imagine an open classroom about the history of an event – in this case, the October Salon and its relationship to the community. The idea is that through direct conversation with the audience and collective listening and viewing of three works of art from the October Salon Collection, we delve deeper into the possible issues and enthusiasm surrounding an exhibition.

The task of the October Salon was to organize an exhibition of representative works of contemporary Serbian fine art each year, on the anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade. The first October Salon was held in the Art Pavilion in Masarikova Street, built as a temporary structure, which functioned until 1974. Since then, the October Salon has been held in different venues.

The three selected works belong to a relatively recent history, the period of the past fifteen years during which ideologies, architecture and spirit have stirred and changed. The Garage, the Belgrade Cooperative and the Library thus become the main characters in this exhibition and discussion and symbolic sites of possible truths and evidence of change.

The sound installation Department of Occasionality by artist Mia Ćuk was created in 2022 for the space of the Svetozar Marković University Library in Belgrade, and the needs of the 59th October Salon. The artist’s voice guides the visitors through the intimate space of reading and the intricate system of the library catalogue. On the other hand, Old Maidfrom 2013, through a fictional story about a building, talks about us, our struggles, our fears. An Educational Mural on the Little-Known History of Painting by Darinka Pop-Mitić from 2009, based on an alternative history, offers a passage to another past. In its original form, the work consisted of a series of six murals painted on the sixth floor of the garage in Masarikova Street, at the location where the first October Salon was held far back in 1960. These murals represented (un)realized paintings by well-known local artists with clear political connotations related to the time and place of their (alleged) existence.
Zorana Đaković Minniti and Siniša Ilić


May 25, 2024 / 18.00

Discussion and exhibition in the Flora Gallery Media Library

Artists: Mia Ćuk, Dubravka Sekulić, Darinka Pop-Mitić and part of the archive material about the first and some other October Salon exhibitions

Discussion led by: Zorana Đaković Minniti and Siniša Ilić