31 March 2015

Lubri and Voin de Voin at All Tomorrow Exotic

All Tomorrow Exotic
dual show by Lubri and Voin de Voin

curated by Edith Jerabkova

7 April – 8 May 2015

Gallery of Czech Center, Sofia, Bulgaria

Supported by Sariev Contemporary


We are looking for emotions, we are trying to balance time spent on self-organization in the system of loosening the traditional nine-to-five jobs. Exotism as magic of the foreign and therefore new is associated with the idea of ethnic differentiation, with history of colonization and imperialistic evolution. Yet, perhaps there is a another way to use the concept of the exotic, not as something that excites us by its suddenness, unexpected influx of unknown, but by its planned appearance. We can handle exotic recreationally, use it for recovery, as a tool for maintaining health and nature, or as a way of learning about the hidden, still taboo and poorly interpreted phenomena.

The work of two artists Voin de Voin and Lubri – whom I knew until recently only from one exhibition in Prague and Sariev Contemporary Gallery website – interests me precisely for this aspect of performative spontaneity. They both have a lot in common – particularly the source of their art manifestations, profession, forms of entertainment and their styling and aesthetic preferences. Nevertheless their motivations distinctly differ – while Voin de Voin examines mechanisms, causes, systems, mimicry and concepts for social manifestations, Lubri captures rather the surface of the social, but also family and friends events in a variety of forms. When I speak of the surface, I do not mean superficiality.

Sigfried Kracauer, German and American film critic and cultural theorist, sociologist and writer, already devoted increased, almost ethnographic attention to monitoring the surface of social and cultural living. Lubri himself speaks of the metaphor of a foggy mirror where the society is reflected through his photographs, but his photos do not serve as a documentary, they are a related world itself, "second nature" – based on the name of one of his exhibitions, often cited in the texts about Lubri. The artist uses the moment when the photographic image creates a new energy, the moment which gives the world of the photograph more life, more emotion than it has outside of the photograpph. It makes us  who do not turn away from the sometimes explicite content of his photos to think about the life the photos themselves live and to compare the life on the photograph and in front of it. This "second nature" therefore is not the nature of people in front of the camera, but of the man behind the camera. It gives him a second life, second look, second world, quite the same like when the photographer is stalking the object of his interest, which is not a parallel world for the artist to escapeto. It opens to him (and indirectly also to us) another expanded life, very real despite all masking, posing, extravagance, performance, playing and camouflaging under which the nature  revives, not bounded by the infinite self-control.

Lubri shoots events that are actually happening – except for some scenes for fashion and lifestyle magazines. At the same time, he often bases his work on these events – which by their nature have a performative character to which we are accustomed to prepare, dedicate special time for viewing and for recovery, to which we dress up and look forward to, from which we expect an excitement. His photographs are not subject to any hierarchy, the author never says: this is art and this is only vacation or party photos. And this lack of evaluating position is also characteristic on the moral level when he is interested in various and for some people extreme manifestations of human activities and community aspects, their plurality, similarity and peculiarity. They are not subject to judgement of someone who controls a given moment by pressing a shutter button. Lubri gives up this power position behind the camera and choses merging with the camera instead.

Voin de Voin videos and performances examine the high demands on the performativity of our lives. They mix elements of social and psychological analysis of systematic society designs with its irrational manifestations. The events are accompanied by the entire symbolic apparatus that sometimes has precise meanings, but other times has more independent and aesthetic qualities and it is composed from individual tastes of their participants. This talk of costumes and masks relates (for both artists)  to a renewed interest in the idea of identity, a key theme of the former Eastern Bloc in the nineties. Today's identity is increasingly linked with the changing relationship between the subject and object, and transition of the subject into a state of the object. It is therefore quite significant that Voin de Voin is an actor in his own videos, but also the protagonist in his performances, which are often photographed by Lubri, so he is a frequent object of Lubri‘s photos.

Voin monitors various social phenomena, ranging from those which take form of occult, sexual and carnival rituals and RPG games to those which reflect leftist philosophy and modernity. Formally, Voin is interested in the relationship between the genres of performances, music videos, games and tableaus vivant with their overlaps into the lived as well as dramatically staged reality. It is this effort to understand this relatively new behavior (albeit with prefigurations in decadence) – the reality of the staged – when the society groups set up to live their picture of the world. It may seem like a regression to childhood or a need for adventure as a complement to the monotonous working life. However, this happens most of the time by planning, either games, recreational drugs or adrenaline sports and entertainment. Theatricality and spectacularity of Voin de Voin‘s performances create tension between the usual situations and special experience. The occasional complexity, imperfect execution and dramaturgic gaps refer to this ambivalent relationship between reality, designed fiction and imitation. Voin tries to say that the old theoretical models of examining our operations must be changed. It is necessary to rely more on empirical methods, to which the art is not meant to serve, but can reveal their efficiency.

The exhibition is part of a larger exchange project, by which I plan to introduce several distinctive artists from the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. The exhibition entitled "Sisters, Stick Together" by the Czech artist Vaclav Girsa already took place in the Czech Centre gallery in Sofia in March. Simultaneously with the exhibition "All Tomorrow Exotic",  the show "Churches and Drawings" by two Czech participating photographers Lukas Jasansky and Martin Polak is taking place in the Rubber Gallery in Plovdiv. At the same time in Sariev Contemporary Gallery in Plovdiv, there will be Jiří Kovanda‘s show "Nothing in the Middle". In October, this will be followed by an exhibition project of the Prague art group Rafani at The Fridge in Sofia and Zbynek Baladran’s exhibition at the ICA gallery also in Sofia. Other events will be announced later.

Edith Jerabkova, curator


For more info visit www.sofia.czechcentres.cz