An Archive of Artists

Mladen Stilinovic

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Mladen Stilinovi´c, a Croat who was born in Belgrade in 1947 and lives in Zagreb, is among the most significant artists from the former Yugoslavia and a Central European pioneer when it comes to diverse, conceptually inclined art practices. This retrospective featured a generous, at times overwhelming, assortment of the artist’s seemingly slapdash yet intelligent and probing paintings, collages, photographs, documentary images of public actions, handmade books, objects and installations. Just outside the entrance, a monitor on the wall displayed a video of a frog hopping about. As the frog hopped, it seemed to croak, “Great show, great show!” over and over: an excited frog, an enthusiastic frog, a frog downright giddy about the art you were going to see; moreover a ludicrous talking frog that undercut the solemnity and gravity of a big-deal museum show.

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The tendency in Russia to see primitiveness as an ideal dates back to the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. From the Populists who tried to ‘go to the people’ to Ballets Russes’ conscious emphasis on its folk roots (think The Firebird, The Rite of Spring and Stravinsky’s music), the simple and primitive life of the peasant has been seen as the root of Russianness, the potential catalyst for spiritual rebirth, and a key element in the invention of Russia’s national identity in the 19th-century.The Ukranian-born curator-turned-artist Oleg Kulik has taken this obsession with primitiveness to its extreme by literally reverting into the animal state – he ‘transformed’ himself into a dog. The dog is the most in/famous persona (zoosona?) that he has adopted, but in the past he has also turned himself into a bird, cockerel, a bull, and even a disco ball.several photographs that document the artist’s The Mad Dog performance from 1994, when he went on all fours naked with a collar and a leash around his neck, growling, barking, menacing random passers-by and pouncing on moving cars. A video footage from the same performance is shown in the basement. In a later performance, I Bite America and America Bite Me (1997, of which two photographs are shown in the show), again as a dog he interacts with participants within an enclosed space. Further inside there is the Deep into Russia series (1993), consisting of photographs showing Kulik apparently copulating or performing various kinds of sexual acts with animals.Some say that his caninisation is a commentary on the animalistic side of all human beings, a concern which grew out of the brutality of post-Soviet Russian society. But while his live performances directed at a viewing public are aggressive and sometimes downright violent, the more record-driven works like Deep into Russia, although no less shocking, seem to embrace primitive instincts and urges. Rather than criticising our latent and inherent animality, the set of photographs are more about searching for a new kind of relationship between man and nature. For Kulik, becoming an animal is not a counter-evolutionary regression, it is the next stage of human development. Extreme primitiveness in the form of animal-like behavior is the means to counteract the over-sophistication of contemporary culture. The doggedness with which he pursues this goal of returning to nature adds a spiritual dimension to the project – and zoophrenia (zoophilia + schizophrenia) is the new faith that this high priest strives to promote. View Larger

The tendency in Russia to see primitiveness as an ideal dates back to the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. From the Populists who tried to ‘go to the people’ to Ballets Russes’ conscious emphasis on its folk roots (think The Firebird, The Rite of Spring and Stravinsky’s music), the simple and primitive life of the peasant has been seen as the root of Russianness, the potential catalyst for spiritual rebirth, and a key element in the invention of Russia’s national identity in the 19th-century.

The Ukranian-born curator-turned-artist Oleg Kulik has taken this obsession with primitiveness to its extreme by literally reverting into the animal state – he ‘transformed’ himself into a dog. The dog is the most in/famous persona (zoosona?) that he has adopted, but in the past he has also turned himself into a bird, cockerel, a bull, and even a disco ball.

several photographs that document the artist’s The Mad Dog performance from 1994, when he went on all fours naked with a collar and a leash around his neck, growling, barking, menacing random passers-by and pouncing on moving cars. A video footage from the same performance is shown in the basement. In a later performance, I Bite America and America Bite Me (1997, of which two photographs are shown in the show), again as a dog he interacts with participants within an enclosed space. Further inside there is the Deep into Russia series (1993), consisting of photographs showing Kulik apparently copulating or performing various kinds of sexual acts with animals.

Some say that his caninisation is a commentary on the animalistic side of all human beings, a concern which grew out of the brutality of post-Soviet Russian society. But while his live performances directed at a viewing public are aggressive and sometimes downright violent, the more record-driven works like Deep into Russia, although no less shocking, seem to embrace primitive instincts and urges. Rather than criticising our latent and inherent animality, the set of photographs are more about searching for a new kind of relationship between man and nature. 

For Kulik, becoming an animal is not a counter-evolutionary regression, it is the next stage of human development. Extreme primitiveness in the form of animal-like behavior is the means to counteract the over-sophistication of contemporary culture. The doggedness with which he pursues this goal of returning to nature adds a spiritual dimension to the project – and zoophrenia (zoophilia + schizophrenia) is the new faith that this high priest strives to promote.


Boris Mikhailov is no doubt one of the most influential and inspiring photographers to have emerged from the former USSR. Coming form the Ukraine, he luckily taught himself photography and is now one of the most important artists to have worked during soviet times as well as after the breaking up.
After the KGB forced him to give up his work as an engineer he dedicated himself to photography only, shooting every-day life situations and documenting everything around him, creating his famous Red Series.
Next he produced Case History, a real monument to the art of photography and at the same time a documentation of the social decay and the downfall of human condition after the split of the USSR. Recently he lives and works in Berlin, again dealing with people living on the margins of a capitalist society.
In his work, he genuinely portrays the life of the oppressed, the poor, the homeless. To him his subjects are normal people who just didn’t manage to play along. Visiting them in their homes, or after having lost them, he says that he felt those people were going to die for the sake of others. Stripped of their human nature and rights he saw them wandering in the streets of this post-communism world like in a gigantic concentration camp and had to document their existence, which he did like no other. View Larger

Boris Mikhailov is no doubt one of the most influential and inspiring photographers to have emerged from the former USSR. Coming form the Ukraine, he luckily taught himself photography and is now one of the most important artists to have worked during soviet times as well as after the breaking up.

After the KGB forced him to give up his work as an engineer he dedicated himself to photography only, shooting every-day life situations and documenting everything around him, creating his famous Red Series.

Next he produced Case History, a real monument to the art of photography and at the same time a documentation of the social decay and the downfall of human condition after the split of the USSR. Recently he lives and works in Berlin, again dealing with people living on the margins of a capitalist society.

In his work, he genuinely portrays the life of the oppressed, the poor, the homeless. To him his subjects are normal people who just didn’t manage to play along. Visiting them in their homes, or after having lost them, he says that he felt those people were going to die for the sake of others. Stripped of their human nature and rights he saw them wandering in the streets of this post-communism world like in a gigantic concentration camp and had to document their existence, which he did like no other.


Stuart Ringholt

Ringholt is an artist who works with performance, installation and video. His practice confronts humiliation and the unknown. By playing with the notion of fear, his work explores the role of art as a social role.

In his series ‘Embarrassed’, Ringholt places himself, through performance, in situations that most of general society would aim to avoid. These performative acts, like walking around with loo paper hanging out of your pants, challenges the fear of social embarrassment. Does witnessing such acts allow us, as social human beings, confront our own fears of embarrassing ourselves in public? Does it bring together a social consciousness from the audience who witnessed it? And if so, what can we learn from it?


Tracey Emin

WORK: Why I Never Became a Dancer (1995)

Video, 6mins., 30secs., colour, sound.

Emin’s autobiographical narratives profile direct expressions through the use of video, monographs, sculpture, writing, textiles and neon. This interdisciplinary framework allows her to put out her emotional life through the subject matters of love, desire, fear and wanting.

'I'd sleep with quite a few of them… I was fourteen and they were between nineteen and twenty-four. You could say that they should have known better than to sleep with a fourteen year old girl… They shouldn't have publicly humiliated me. But this story is very edited. Even when I walked down the High Street they used to shout “Slag!” or “Slut!”' - Tracey Emin, 1997


Hayv Kahraman

Kahraman’s empathic approach towards crimes related to the female gender is evident in the Asian-influenced paintings she creates. Her work involves honour killings, rape and inequality towards women. She feels it is her duty to be involved in these matters, as both artist and female.

Born in Iraq in 1981, she fled the country during the war. Now living a safe life in the West, her work takes on a rebellious streak that is tinged with symbolic gestures and myth; paintings that profile brutality towards the themes she chooses to paint about.


Melanie Bonajo

Bonajo was born in The Netherlands in 1978. Her work stems from the relationship between creating harmony with the worlds that are around us and the impossibilities that are faced with such struggles. One Sunday she discovered a photograph of herself with a baby bed stuck to her back. This discovery led to her finding out that as a child she had a tendency not to sleep, so her parents used to tie her to her bed with rope. She also found out that her parents kept her on a lead when out in public places until she was six. A trend that was apparently big in the 70s!

The photographic series ‘Furniture Bondage’ (2007) are colour C-type prints in which everyday household items are sculpted onto a model’s body. The representation of the models at that particular moment profile restraint against the materials that are attached to them and the perseverance that is needed from the model when sitting for the artist. The imagery created from the series speaks directly about the weight that material has on life.


Gillian Wearing

WORK: Take Your Top Off (1993)

'I phoned people without meeting them first, and then went to their places and got into bed. I wouldn't go through a rehearsal beforehand, i just wanted to know what would happen, so it was all done on the same day… When I first showed it I didn't tell anybody that the people in the work were transsexuals… I didn't want to make that point… I wanted them just to be seen as people who looked like women'

(In conversation with Donna De Salvo, 1999)

Wearing’s subjects are at different stages of transsexual transformation. She sits alongside her subjects with her top off too, creating an ambiguous involvement in the act. By placing herself in this unpredictable participatory act, the work deals with the notion of vulnerability.

Wearing (born in 1963, UK) is known for exploring the boundaries of public and private life through documentation. She captures such moments of the participants used by using photography and video.


Emin & Bourgeois

‘Do Not Abandon Me’ originated with Bourgeois, who began the works by painting male and female torsos in profile on paper, mixing red, blue and black gouache pigments with water to create delicate and fluid silhouettes. Bourgeois then passed the images on to Emin, who later confessed: ‘I carried the images around the world with me from Australia to France, but I was too scared to touch them’.

Emin overlaid Bourgeois’s forms with fantasy, drawing smaller figures that engaged with the torsos like Lilliputian lovers, enacting the body’s desires and anxieties. In one, a woman kisses an erect phallus; in another, a small fetus-like form protrudes from a swollen belly. In many, Emin’s handwriting inscribes the images with a narrative, putting into words the emotions expressed in Bourgeois’s vibrant gouaches.

© 2012 Hauser & Wirth.

Emin discusses this project in the the talk series ‘Culture Now’ (ICA, 2011)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wouyb5KQM9k


Phil Collins

Collins works globally in which the location’s focus is on the individual subjects. He creates lyrical portraits of the damage done to those beset by hardship. He depicts his subjects with a humane sensibility. He does this by building a suporting and trusting relationship with his subjects.

WORKS: Free Fotolab (2005)

Collins pays a fee to develop his subjects personal snapshots. In exchange for a fee, the artist has the freedom and right to use the photographs in whatever manner he chooses. 


Elinor Carucci

Carucci started photographing her family at the age of 15, using her father’s Canon camera. Her work often features herself and her family members in the nude. The subjects acknowledge the camera in a casual manner. The collaboration between herself and her family members mediates on relationships, intimacy and identity.