About the author
Božica Dea Matasić often bases her works on affirmative relation to form and modern technological processes and materials and well thought out, sophisticated expressed criticism towards the sensationalist and consumerist environment. In certain ambient works and installations the basis is found in the archetypal imaginary constructs which transform the physical space of galleries into multi sensory relaxing landscapes soaked in the meditative atmosphere (exhibitions Challenge of Light, 2002; Silva Subterranea, 2004; Signs of Probability, 2004; Silent Water, 2006; Live Mirrors, 2006 ).
Although she does not create under internal obligation of social engagement, she also does not suppress or circumvents the social components of the context and themes of existence of artists, as well as social and economic evaluation of an artwork, which she often presents on the national art festivals (such as works Trading Sculpture for a Car from 2003 from VII Triennial of Croatian Sculpture; Petition, 2007 on occasion of 42nd Zagreb Salon; The Contract, 2015 from XII Triennial of Croatian Sculpture).
In many of her realizations the key principle is the interactive engagement of visitors whereas designing of volume is only a pretext for the construction of physical multi sensory involvement of visitors with the environment (Panacea, 2010; Touch Keepers, 2011; The Tower of Views, 2016; Bottomless Bags, 2016).
This principle of testing reflective and auto-reflective responses of the audience which create work through the personal experience is as valid in venues such as galleries and museums as well as in public places or in natural surroundings. The variety of formal and technological methods to which Matasić resorts in material performance stems from the indivisible dependence of the final work on the conceptual, rather than the formal motivation and intent, for the construction of deeper communication links of objects with the social environment. Her creative projection does not exhaust itself in the mere setting up of an aesthetic object in the physical context of space and the viewer but focuses on relational processes with the environment and the creation of an expanded contextual framework of the artwork.
Basement Halls of Dioclecian’s Palace, HULU, Split, 12 - 31 August 2017
Ivana Meštrov, preface to the exhibition catalog
Focusing our attention to the colloquial use of the phrase 'bottomless bags' in the Croatian language, there is a conceptual branch opening for associations such as 'that which devours money, seeks endless investments, bottomless pit, abysmal pit ' . If this syntagm is accompanied by a visual interpretation suggested by Božica Dea Matasić, in which an ambiental installation comprised of five oversized objects with the skeletal form of quotidian shopping bags takes over the symbolical exhibit space, they give way to fortifying the artist's primal thesis of the consumerist abyss within us, not just surrounding us.
The visitors can pass through the objects, stay inside of them or, eventually, inhabit them, as they are made from welded iron pipes (intentionally painted as black 'negatives') and, with their size, they surpass the modular anthropometric measure of comfortable 226 centimetres. It is not a surprise that the ambiental scene itself , viewed from afar, seems as a funny metaphor of the symbiotic relationship between men and shopping bags, but is also a cynical display of the consumerist giant-whale, devouring a naive and illusion-driven Pinochio wihin us, whose personal credo is filled with seemingly easy life choices.
Philosophical-psychological readings of the globalized consumerist culture of the late liberal capitalism (such as Tyranny of Choice by Renata Salecl ), point to how strongly this consumerist spirit rooted in our lives is manifesting through reflections of our life pleasures which emerge from buying new Gazelles, and is building control over our own femininity using the new, ultra-pigmenting Lancôme lipstick. Everybody gets what they deserve, depending on their pocket size. What matters the most is that we possess.
Wanting to be unique - visible, attractive and outstanding - it is as if we keep forgetting that these 'free choices' separate us from the collective body and some social ideas different from those contained in masses of plastic bags collected at the last seasonal sales, made to detach us from the real, collectively lived realities. “Who cares, I got my new iPhone7!”
Salecl will demonstrate through various examples, how, despite all these repeated everyday freedoms of choice, our background lives are total emptiness and guilt – mostly because of lack of imagination, be it individual or collective, social. It is because the real change, not the cosmetic one, is trapped within us, and it suffers for dialogue, not necessarily with things, but with people.
Still, is it really possible to escape the conditions caused by our own social/contextual frameworks (bags)? That question can be answered through another work, a movie which marked the past two centuries by its two sequels, Trainspotting . Even its protagonists are facing multiple choices: “Choose life. Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares… And then… take a deep breath You’re an addict, so be addicted Just be addicted to something else Choose the ones you love Choose your future Choose life”.
But, if you have seen the movies, you know how this (fictional) life scenario ends...
Going back to Božica Dea Matasić's work, which can be defined in the post-conceptual, post-pop and the widened post-Internet sculptural form, whose essence holds multimediality as a sketch, but also the way of disseminating the virtual-real picture, we can easily see the art history references which the artist is building: quoting Warhol's obssession with shopping or the ready-made heritage, which are seen through the reflections and traces of its post-object picture. Matasić thinks about all this with a dose of asceticism, unlike some contemporary artists, such as Sylvie Fleury, who built installations with luxurious objects and packages (before the global economic crisis in 2008), cinically fighting the world of consumerism, but also supporting the system exactly as it is.
Additional value of the installation lies within the ambient, built through the dialogue with the basement halls of Diocletian's palace – they are also denied of their heritage aspect and their cultural value as tourism pressures all capacities and resources of Split. This dialogue alludes to the bottomless bag of the city, which is trapped in the fast accumulation without long term public planning of its sustainable development.
“To present a work doesn't mean to introduce the audience to the dead piece, but to activate the symbolic mechanisms through gesture and articulation, and its two main fuels: moment, and place”, as Paul Ardenne wrote in his Contextual art ; through this specific moment in time and context, the presentation of Božica Dea Matasić's “Bottomles Bags” has received new energetic value, as well as a thought agenda.
Bottomless Bags 2
Barrel Gallery, HDLU, 23. 5. . 4. 6. 2017. Zagreb
Jasmina Fučkan, preface to the exhibition catalog
Božica Dea Matasić's characteristic approach to the expanded field of sculpture is manifested in a two-part project composed of a series of digital simulations, Bottomless Bags 1, and site-specific sculptures Bottomless Bags 2, the public presentation of which, after the exhibition held in Glyptotheque, will be concluded with this exhibition in Bačva Gallery. According to Rosalind Krauss, the expanded field of sculpture provokes the boundaries and conceptual overlapping between sculpture, landscape and architecture. Still, the meaning-bearing components of the works are manifested through the artist's expressed relation to a historically based view of sculpture in the narrow sense, thus from this perspective it can be stated that they have actually been conceived as a formal negative of classical sculpture of closed forms.
Consecutively – no pedestal, no volume, no reciprocal hollow space, at the very threshold of materiality the only thing that actually exists is the outline. With such abolition of tactile and morphological components of the work, the artist fully mobilizes the conceptual ones. Everything we see is just a bare reduction to a spatial drawing, like a borrowed segment from Giacometti's composition The Palace at 4 a.m., which brings us to the tradition of Surrealism and aspiration to move closer to the unconscious impulses. The terror of inner neuroses with artillery of obsessive images and forced thoughts lurks on the dark side of the psyche. And here comes the motif – bottomless bags!
Not allowing herself or the visitors to have a careless approach, with the selection and expression of what we recognize and usually call a motif, the artist also reveals the question of her own motivation. It is rooted precisely in the questioning of different dimensions that shape the notion of reality. This means that, despite citing the process of overblowing banal objects of everyday use characteristic of Pop Art, the artist’s intention is not to express the literacy of the object. This is what activating the void space is about, because the artist conceives site-specific sculptures as iconic signs realized in a negative space, i.e. the domain of physical absence. The importance of digital technology, which is more than a practical aid in the process of conceptualizing the idea of ambiance, is also significant. This is emphasized in the series of simulations Bottomless Bags 1. Through digital simulations, the attention is directed not only towards the inability to avoid globally present media and marketing representation of things, but primarily on the status of a subject embedded in simulations. Such a subject, as a visitor to the exhibition, at the same time an active observer and participant in a situation, is not only a reference base of the whole Bottomless Bags series, but also a mandatory physical complement to site-specific sculptures. As a paradoxical opportunity for establishing random and volatile relations of volumes, literally body and space.
An ambiance with overblown, architecturally dominant skeletons that integrate visitors are a contemporary framework of establishing relationship between the man and the environment, which ultimately corresponds to Mark Fisher’s famous interpretation of capitalist realism: “It is more like a pervasive atmosphere, conditioning not only the production of culture but also the regulation of work and education, and acting as a kind of invisible barrier constraining thought and action.“
Bottomless Bags 1
Glyptotheque, 4. 5. – 15. 5. 2017.
Jasmina Fučkan, preface to the exhibition catalog
In the past year through conceptual adaptation of formal determinants by different media Božica Dea Matasić created a special articulation for the idea of Zeitgeist, realizing it as a two-component series in which environmental sculptures and digital graphic simulations connect, thus developing a reference field of linguistic phrase bottomless bag (bottomless pit) as a metaphor for a life frame. Sophisticated critical presentation of the modern-world consumer climate, in which the unique system of the global economy and the dominance of insatiable dictate of market is reflected, is expressed primarily from the position of the subject and its individual point of view.
Series of digital images, according to computer 3D models of environmental bottomless bag is formally a hybrid creation dependent on authorial procedure of travesty that tackles questions through media about the relationship between subjective values and those imposed by order. Thanks to the method of digital processing – the series of works entitled IN-version, which was recently set in the permanent collection of the Museum of Arts and Crafts, along with the series of graphics Bottomless Bag 1, exhibited here in Glyptotheque and ambiental cycle of installations Bottomless Bag 2 that is to be presented in the Barrel Gallery – these are connected through the process of simulation of not new, but invisible other reality, the one with which we unconsciously cling to on psychological level thus trying to adapt to the imperatives of order.
Computer-generated simulations are printed as several meters long canvases for the exhibition space in Glyptotheque by repeating the traditional formal form of painting. Their structured rhythm of successive overlapping outlines in perspective view contours consumer bags by forming patterns, which are reminiscent of imaginary cityscapes of some barren, apocalyptic landscape with no trace of any recognizable biomorphic vitality in the author's earlier works. Due to technicistic futility they appear uninhabitable, presented outlines in the focus of perspective set the personal view and thus not only introduce humanity as a correlative range of value, but also actually emphasize its suppression.
Unlike environmental sculptures in which the reduction of the spiritual needs is identified by outgrowing void, in graphics the author uses visual method of unstoppable generic multiplication in order to create the illusion of spaciousness of labyrinth forest filled with auto referent signs that occupy the view. Through identification with the perspective view of the observer captured within the rigid edges, simulation is understood as an intuitive image, a sketch of experience of metaphysical architecture with imposed borders. In the unstoppable proliferation of views and increasing density of overlapping which ultimately breaks down image structural readability, sometimes even to utter blackness, stated is the fatal hopelessness of this pictotecture of abyss that reveals itself on the spiritual horizon of the observer.
Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, 1/24/2017 – 4/2/2017
Ready for the future?
It seems that we are witnessing the realization of the avant-garde utopia of the early 20th century, a futuristic fantasy about the total construction of the world and achieving the evolutionary ideal of a superior Homo sapiens - as a cyborg, man / machine. The impersonation of the sensory and affective potential of mankind enables synchronisation of technologically simulated stimuli and actions with an organic human system, with a high level of possible interactivity and sophisticated manipulation of human emotions. Research in the field of extended and virtual reality is currently a focus of development strategies of many of the most powerful companies in the world (Sony, Valve, HTC). Their achievements are of immense importance for many professions and disciplines, as well as for artistic production, even though (for now) they are most widely used in the escapist world of the mass entertainment industry and digital games. A prerequisite for an order of cultural disembodiment in cyberspace, enabling a transition to full digital presence, is the willingness of users to accept the phenomenal revelation of the body reduced to a biological basis for mounting technological add-ons that improve our ability to experience and participate in the virtual sphere.
Audience beyond the interface
At the level of global distribution, the virtual state is a necessary extension of reality. Digitalisation processes are enthusiastically accepted as an outstanding tool in musealisation and museological processing, thus enabling the linking of data of national or institutional bases and creation of repositories of international and transnational thematic virtual collections. In this way, museums actively participate in creating new digital identities. Considering the fact that the process of transmission – the transfer of objects from one context to another context – is a primordial museological principle, a virtual museum seems to be a very potent medium for structuring and preserving the memory of heritage and communication (i.e., updating its value). However, modern technological trends, introducing new forms of communication and reproduction, change expectations of the audience as well as their interests, thus becoming a major challenge for museum practice.
Reality and fiction of museum exhibitions
Academic sculptor Božica Dea Matasić – like other artists who have participated so far in the project Contemporary Artists in MUO Permanent Exhibition (Dalibor Martinis, Dubravka Rakoci, Željko Badurina, Slaven Tolj, Ida Blažičko and Nika Radić) in constructing different relations within the museum protocols and meaning of exhibits in the museum halls – creates a dialogue with the spatial and semantic context. However, she does not do it through formally recognizable works. At first, it even seems that she challenges the very understanding of a site-specific work, or visitors’ patience. In several halls featuring museum segments from the art historical timeline (Gothic, Baroque, Classicism, Art Deco, and Design), technological sections are provided for visitors, with seats equipped with virtual reality headsets. This is not merely a manifestation of technological attraction, but an exhibition in the centre of whose artistic focus is a problem set we encounter in the demarcation of the real and the virtual museum. The very aspect of materiality is tested, and the question is whether by losing the indispensable conditions for interaction, it also loses the qualitative character for the audience. The author's intention is that through the appropriation of the digital system apparatus, which relativizes materiality or abolishes the need for being present, the quality of reality is presented whose characteristics we are called to re-discover and explore.
Visibility and invisibility of reality
Through a series of 3D virtual alternations the author has, by amending the exposed content of museum halls, created not only a new concept of the virtual exhibition, but also partially deconstructed the actual exhibition and changed the code of its original message. The original message of the MUO Permanent Exhibition‘s structural diversity of art and craft collections was compiled in a historiographical review of artistic styles, and technological aspects without direct explication are overshadowed by the emphasis on formal characteristics.
According to the understanding of Božica Dea Matasić, it is precisely different technological aspects of craft, art and design in approaching design as manual processes, manufacture or industrial work, that determine the level of spiritual memory of an object, the potential from which we gain awareness of the continuity of human efforts to shape the environment, to improve reality, and to dignify matter. This sedimented time and physical energy consumed in the production process is stored in each museum object, which, mirrored in the minds of visitors, becomes a link for transferring messages.
The visitor and his / her place in the museum
Božica Dea Matasić understands space as a medium for people's interaction, objects and concepts, which is why in many works the visitor and his / her experience is placed at the heart of events, providing him / her with a possibility for a complete physical participation through activation of spatial, visual, tactile, and auditory perception. In her work intended for the MUO Permanent Exhibition, the individual participation of a visitor presents the only requirement in order to achieve the intervention because the authorial view within the public space is identified with the subjective viewpoint of visitors, a perspective which frames the very possibility of experience. Although perhaps they most clearly evoke associations with serial overproduction and a sense of overload with uniform ambient trade fairs, scenography arrangements of alternate authorial setups correspond to the totality of the environment outside the museum. They are built on the generative principle and the principles close to the biomedical methodology of genetic engineering, such as strict selection of samples, by enhancing identical reproduction with the elimination of differences.
Generic repetition of a single exhibit in selected halls enhanced the subordination to multiplication trends affecting technological and biological levels of social productivity and reproducibility. Through the virtual character of her process, Božica Dea Matasić carried out cultural engineering, by breaking the compact historic fabric of the museum exhibition with occasional nuclei of metastases that the visitor sporadically reveals. Degenerative samples - devoid of history and humanity, spiritual potential with which one could connect – are the symptom of postmaterial status not only of art, but also of life and literally body, in which illusion instrumentalizes even the very essence of identity. After a physical examination through the oculus of art, every visitor can diagnose for themselves its current state.