Periphery Art / Redesign

Besim Spahić

The introductory text of the promotion – Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, October, 23th 2003

I am faced with a dilemma: in this age of mass production, speed and images, when people hardly read anymore, should I write a “serious text” about work we are wittnessing at the present exhibition or should I leave you, the judges of this event, to see and experience not a spectacle in an artistic and aesthetic sense, but the bitterness and clarity employed by the artist (following the footsteps of the most bitter and clearest testimonies in art) to present the world of our everyday experience, our environment and ourselves? From my personal experience, I know that it is better to hint at the moments in our present time, addressed by the artist and adopted as subjects of his visual interpretations, than to speak at length and in great detail about his work. I leave you to form your own impressions about it.

Adopting a distance towards art and his living environment while remaining contemporary through the topics he addresses in his work (religion, ideology, social relations, consumer society), Asim Ðelilovic is both local and universal. As a designer (by education), artist and philo-sopher, his main interest within peripheryart is the experiences of a civilisation which he judges and, to which he belongs not as a designer inaugurating, innovating and implementing these same experiences, but as an active witness of those phenomena and tendencies within the civilisation itself, the resulting background of which leaves deep scars in the space of man's humanity. The artist's struggle for humanity and man once perceived to be a struggle for succession on the level of religion has today become a struggle for fans and consumers at the level of the economy. Religious iconic creations are today replaced with the trademarks of the consumer society.
As seen by the artist, contemporary man as a follower and consumer has had all sense of responsibility and concern surgically removed. He does not create, establish and sustain (like he used to); he only uses, employs and spends. Others create for him, take care of him and are responsible on his behalf. The central focus of his life has become a game, fun and pleasure.

In this sense, the nature of art, for which C.G. Argan claimed that it had used to be “the source of ideas in the world of technology”, can no longer be found in production innovation, that is in ideas (because they now belong in the domain of science), but its “ideaness” can be recognised in the observations about the world of technology and the resulting nature of relationships in the immediate civilised environment.

As an advocator of the demythologisation of contemporary iconic culture, the artist exposes the true nature and background of the international mainstream media and real events and dethrones the idea of “progress” and “democracy”, presenting them as an illusion and image produced for the “broad masses” and endeavouring to disclose the real essence of “progress” by suggesting that the condition of leading and being led is dictated by plan and interest. This is, amongst others, carried out through the everyday CNN-isation and Hollywood-isation that substitutes our everyday reality with media-dictated reality.

Following in the footsteps of Chomski, Virilio, Baudrillard and Arendt, in the post-modernist world of declining (European) dialogue and growing (American) monistic futurism, the artist employs visual language to explore, analyse and interpret phenomena and tendencies of the “contemporary world”, recognising them in the integral space of historical human experience. His findings convince us that the instruments of the emergence of the “new world” do not mean a “better future” for man's destiny and that we are facing another painful experience, a fraud, blood and tears. Exhibited works show that the artist's visually expressed thoughts have not become any less intellectually fresh and authentic, affective and propulsive. In many ways, they are more powerful and their motifs that are intended to wake us and make us more aware of our own place and role in the world attack the eye with greater force than the target-oriented (advertising campaigns), aggressively typified and creatively insufficient advertisements. By working from the periphery, from Sarajevo ('little Jerusalem'), he convinces us that the “small and insignificant” do not exist, that the “centre of the world” is where we are and that the struggle for this centre of the world is fought here and by us.

This associative and engaged art does not know taboos and prohibitions. Openly and without scruples, the artist exposes the background of ideology and ideologisms, leaders and leadership (in the world without true leaders of ethical and moral values) and analyses the institution and abuse of social power, the torture of democracy and denunciation of the individual.

By drawing clear parallels between the known logic of the institution of religious iconography and the iconography of consumer society, the artist questions the authenticity of both and asks us whether the symbolism of the contemporary consumer icon is equal to the symbolism of the religious icon. If so, and if the formula of both is the same, the investigation into the authenticity of both casts a shadow of doubt on the entire space of human experience and questions its structure. If this doubt is justified, we must ask ourselves, on what we have spent the time that was allotted to us and whether our efforts were in vain. We must find the answers to these questions alone.

In the artistic and interpretative sense, the instruments for expressing these points of view are inconsistent. Every new subject that is the focus of the artist's attention demands a different approach and a new material or technique. As a result, the artist does not foster a personal artistic expression of the kind that we find fragmented in a number of similar works. The consistency of “his manuscript” is evident in the subjects that interest him and the themes that he investigates. The artistic experience presented in this way displays a breadth of the artist's interpretative possibilities. The concepts of the assemblage, object, installation, light design, printed material, painted forms and photography are merely an additional proof of this. The artist declares that artistic language is what facilitates the interpretation of knowledge about the world that is possible only through direct experience. This type of contemporary art is documentary and the artist is a documentarist of the world that passes by.

From amidst the flotsomand jetsom of the world, washed on the artist's shores, he collects, recognises and connects those documents and vestiges of the material culture, which confirm its essence. Therefore, the project is based on the concept of documentary art and is carried out in accordance with the artist's understanding and handling of a found object that he incorporates into the structure of his work, inaugurating the idea of an observing, exploring, recognising and liberating artist rather than a creating artist. Consequently, his works are found objects, preserved imprints of human essence, proofs of human existence, activity and thoughts.

The artist becomes the person who sees. Nothing can escape his eyes. He notices, records, unveils. Therefore, the object is not represented or depicted. It is what it is. Permeated with the experience of the environment and time from which it comes, it testifies to this experience and this time. Together with us.