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This isn't my world, Belgrade, 1976


JERMAN
 

May 27 - June 20, 2008
 

You are kindly invited to attend the opening of the exhibition on Tuesday, May 27th at

8 pm at Galerija Škuc.

 

A guided tour with the curator will take place on Wednesday,May 28 and Friday, June 20 at 6 pm

 

Željko Jerman is the one who poisoned me with contemporary art. He is the one who showed me that art can be sincere and untamed. He was not religious, but had passionate faith. He lived art and shared it without prejudice with the people around him. Some liked it, some did not. The truth often hurts, but that is how life is. Jerman knew that well and was never prepared to play games, hide his opinions or change his views to stay in favour.

I first met Jerman as an artist when I stood dumbfounded in front of his work Martine instalacije ('Marta's Installations') at an exhibition entitled U prvom licu at the Zagreb gallery PM. This was the turning point, the moment when the poison of contemporary art flowed into my veins. It was the beginning of a story, of the time I started to get to know Jerman.

The characteristics of a human and an artist are inseparable in the case of Jerman since his art constantly reflected his life and emotional state. Art is his mirror, what he is, what he thinks, wants, loves and hates. I saw many different moments, be it in art or everyday life. For Jerman, the daily routine was an ocean in which he found ideas, tore and cut them, but most of all he subjected them to his feelings.

The idea of an exhibition about Željko Jerman struck me about a month after his death in 2006 when I was thinking about how to fill the exhibition slot Jerman and I had received at the Škuc Gallery for 2008. The story about our exhibition collaboration began back in 2004 when we began preparing a project aiming to show the relationship which was gradually developing between Jerman and myself through art and curatorial practice. The starting point of our relationship was the exhibition Med ognjem in umetnostjo at the Škuc Gallery in 2004, which was the beginning of our active communication. Already in the summer of 2004 we would regularly exchange e-mails and meet in Zagreb, where we would scribble our ideas in notebooks, on paper napkins, bills, and anything else at hand. I tried to find out as much as possible about Jerman's art, the 1970s and 1980s and other things. Jerman would always help me, send me texts, introduce me to people, but at some point I realised that I would be unable to grasp the truth of his work until I got to know him since his art and personality were so closely intertwined. That is when our relationship began to grown beyond the professional one and became personal. Topics of our conversations would shift from photography, intimate slogans and chemical procedures to everyday things like love, misfortune, passion, fantasies, fear and pain. We tried to bring all of that into our exhibition project, which began to reflect our relationship.

The project was not a classic diary in progress but highlighted the subjects and issues we dealt with, be they intimate or professional. At times the neurotic muddle of comments, thoughts, discussion, drawings, artworks and silence began to transform into a meaningful whole. Sometimes we would joke that we were in long-term psychotherapy which we were trying to legitimise as art. There were ups and downs, from the gloomy bottom to the top and back. It was often dark as, due to pain and poor health, Jerman would fall into an existential crisis he could not find a way out of, yet he always maintained the hope of mounting an exhibition at Škuc. He never gave up, although sometimes he was unable to do any more work. Flirting with death was not foreign to him. I often thought that he was somehow fascinated by death. He was not afraid of it, but flirted with it. He did not care about advice and restrictions, but remained faithful to his pleasures and managed his life as he saw fit. He had the same attitude to art. He created things and destroyed them at the same time. An end was a new beginning for him. And for me as well. Jerman's death was the end of an era for me, a period which he had begun.

The death of Željko Jerman came as quite a shock to me. I did not expect it, even though I knew his death was not too far away. He knew this well and was probably the least afraid of it because of that. But for me, his death radically cut our relationship and was an enormous blow to the project we had built together. What remains in the exhibition is Jerman, my view of him, which means everything. I am transforming everything we did together into an exhibition. It is not a traditional retrospective exhibition, but my subjective view of Jerman as a person and an artist. It is what we both wanted from the very outset: a sincere confession through art.

The exhibition in the Škuc Gallery seeks to comprehensively present the art of Željko Jerman in a subjective way. The selection was made from his entire art production created between 1970 and 2006, while I developed the concept of the presentation from our e-mails, notes, talks and sketches; namely, our communication between 2004 and 2006. The exhibition is a conglomerate of Jerman's characteristics which came to light more prominently in the course of our communication. Consequently, his works at the exhibition are divided into the following areas: intimacy, leaving a trace, death, sea, and passion and expression.

These works also highlight Jerman's key formal approaches and subjects he tackled in different periods, thereby weaving a common thread; however, the formalistic issue is less prominent. The art works from the early 1970s are mainly photographs which reveal Jerman's interest in setting the boundaries and possibilities offered by photography as a medium. He took pictures and intentionally developed blurry photographs, he intervened with chemicals, pens and other objects on the photographic paper. He tore and cut the photographs and set them on fire. However, destruction always produced new life. Later, he began to focus on elementary photography, processes and the chemicals used. Jerman knew extremely well the materials and media he employed and knew how to take advantage of them, be it the use of chemicals, colours, light, photo paper or any combination. At the start of the 1990s, when Jerman became deaf and had serious health problems, his art saw a formalistic change. He began to focus more intensely on video and communicated his concept and views on art via writing, which became practically the only way he would communicate with the outside world. All of this influenced his art which, however, still remained sincere, innovative and radical, as can be seen in the dialogue between the works created in different periods of his life.

So, the exhibition has been set up and reflects how I saw Jerman. Jerman who, even when he was not supposed to, smoked his Largo cigarettes with the greatest pleasure. One after another. Passionately. Which is how everything was with him. He always took whatever he could from life, but gave back even more. I am trying to transfer to the gallery what he gave me and communicate it through art. Art is what brought us close, us and kept us together amidst the turmoil of everyday life. Art speaks for itself. It does not need to be translated, put in a box and framed within a concept. On the other side of the abyss it is evident that I need art. Not as a translation, box or an illustration of an impenetrable conceptual framework. I need it because it speaks about Jerman the most sincerely. It speaks about what I am trying to say. After I run out of words and they grow silent, art is the only thing which can develop this story further and take it into another whirlwind of emotions and thoughts - mine, yours, theirs and countless others. But when it comes to Jerman it will always be about art.

 

Curator of the exhibition: Tevž Logar

 

This exhibition is dedicated to Željko Jerman.

 


Accompanying programme

 

LECTURES
 

Uwe Laysiepen - Ulay: Credibility of Photography, Thursday, 29 May at 19:00 in the Škuc Gallery. The lecture will be in English.

Darko Šimičič: Željko Jerman, jedan od Grupe šestorice autora (Željko Jerman, one of the Group of Six Authors), Friday, 6 June at 19:00 in the Škuc Gallery. The lecture will be in Croatian.

Iva Rada Janković:  Jerman: Dekonstrukcija = konstrukcija (Jerman: Deconstruction = Construction), Thursday, 12 June at 18:00 in the Škuc Gallery. The lecture will be in Croatian.

 
 

SCREENINGS of documentary films and videos will take place at the Cabinet of the Domestic Research Society.
 

My Month, Ivan Faktor, production HZS, 2005

Photography in Croatia - Željko Jerman, Anamarija Habjan, production HTV, 2004

TV - exhibition - Željko Jerman, Breda Beban and Hrvoje Horvatič, production HTV, 1996

G6 - The Group of Six Artists, Gordana Brzović and Kristina Leko, production HTV, 2002

Exhibition-actions of the Group of Six Artists, production Institut za suvremenu umjetnost SCCA - Zagreb, 1998

 

A guided tour with the curator will take place on Wednesday, 28 May and Friday, 20 June at 18:00.

 

In collaboration with the Domestic Research Society.

 

Thanks:

Bojana Švertasek, Ješa Denegri, Darko Šimičič, Iva Rada Janković, Uwe Laysiepen - Ulay, Mojca Deželak, Marinko Sudac, Družina Badurina, Muzej suvremene umjetnosti Zagreb, Maderna Galerija Ljubljana, Institut za suvremenu umjetnost SCCA - Zagreb, Janka Vukmir, Ivan Faktor, Gordana Brzović, Anamarija Habjan, Vlasta Delimar, Alenka Gregorič, Joško Pajer, Atila Boštjančič, Ajdin Bašić and editorial board of newspaper Zarez.

 

Supported by:



Tiskarna Vek

 

 

 

The programme of Škuc Gallery is supported by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and City of Ljubljana - Department of Culture.
 

For further information contact Tevž Logar, curator of the exhibition on +386 1 251 65 40, galerija.skuc@guest.arnes.si