Akbank Sanat

December 18, 2006

Exhibition dates: 21 December 2006 to 27 January 2007

Opening reception: Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 19:30.

Curators: Ali Akay & Levent Çalıkoğlu

Akbank Art Gallery
akbanksanat [​at​]
Tel: 90 212 252 3500
90 212 292 3984

The IRWIN collective are one of the most important representatives of the Post-Conceptual Art movement in former Yugoslavia. In the early 1980s the famous industrial-punk group Laibach (the German name for Ljubljana: a reference to the Nazi occupation of that city in the second world war) together with other autonomous Slovenian avant-garde groups set up NSK (Neue Slowenische Kunst: New Slovenian Art), a political art collective that undertook some of the most radical and critical forms of experimental art in socialist-period Yugoslavia.

Deploying a deliberately provocative mixture of Slovenian nationalist icons, Nazi symbolisms, disco-punk stylistics, Communist totalitarian kitsch, and other extreme ideological symbols, IRWIN sought to free itself of totalitarianism effectively by being more totalitarian than the totalitarians. During this period, philosophers such as Slavoj Zizek and Rastko Mocnik were the theoreticians who most supported the NSK and IRWIN aesthetic ideology.

With the breakup of Yugoslavia, the IRWIN groups primary target was shorn of its significance. Somewhat later therefore in 1991, IRWIN redefined itself as a state: specifically the NSK State in Timea micronation with its own embassies and passports. This was a tactical move that was intended rather to add a more critical and performative character to the process of post-socialist renationalization. Like the Russian graphic artists team of Komar and Melamds Sots Art project during the days of the Soviet Union, which set Socialist Realism on its head, IRWIN inverted the realities of socialist-Yugoslavia, introducing the mechanisms of criticism into its work.

Lux tenebris, lux mundi et lux veritatis (The light of shadows, the light of the world, the light of truth) is a synthesis of this groups work. According to Marina Grzinic, it functions as an art machine that relies heavily on the Deleuzian concepts of which it makes use. Operating with such concepts as desired and capitalist machines, the realism of the IRWIN/NSK micronation resembles the island in Kostunicas film Underground. The violence and savagery of a divided and fragmented Yugoslavian world shows us the objective in setting up an imaginary country. The Srebrenica Massacre was an important contributor to the establishment of this NSK micronation, which is itself a reaction to the indifference that the civilized capitalist West showed towards these tragic events. Striving to combine aesthetics and the history of art, IRWIN employs surprise effectively in its work, which is formulated by installing pictorial iconography into the history of Yugoslavian and world art and which is informed by a preference of deconstructionist methods rather than copying and identification. From representational models, the groups artists produce a history of memory that reveals itself in the process of re-creation. The reconstruction of auras relies on the images made possible by modern technology, which works in tandem with history. New combinations of a variety of styles and collages reveal for us the IRWIN aesthetic style.

For the last five years, IRWIN has been working on producing a map and history of contemporary art in all Eastern European and former Socialist countries through its East Art Map project, in which an attempt is being made to formulate a history of that art that is an alternative to the authoritarian art history of the West. Akbank Sanat is presenting viewers in stanbul yet another IRWIN exhibition in the wake of two previous appearances at the stanbul biennials of 1997 and 2005. This is the first time this group of artists will be mounting a personal exhibition of their work in the Istanbul cosmopolis. The exhibition will consist of three different projects; East Art Map, Like to Like, Corpse of Art.

IRWIN will be coming to Istanbul during the exhibition and giving a lecture.
Courtesy of Gregor Podnar Gallery
Akbank Sanat
Istiklal Caddesi
Zambak Sokak No: 1
Beyoglu, Istanbul

Akbank Sanat
December 18, 2006

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