Smell, smell, oh how it smells!
GalerijaGallery and MADE IN CHINA present the publication of the artistic multiple Nos by Žiga Kariža.
This time at the GG minus 2 location. See you there!
GalerijaGallery minus 2, Koroška street 2c (2nd flood), Bežigrad, Ljubljana.
“Bežigrad! There was a time, a not too far-flung time, when Bežigrad was desolate and empty. The drivers hauled sand out of the hole, snapped their whips, shouted and cursed, the horses were unruly, frothing at the mouth, the carriages creaked and rocked under their own weight. Along Vienna Street, the main Slovenian thoroughfare, there was a factory with hundreds of workers jostling to earn their daily bread. The machinery whirred and clanked, the chimney stack blew black sooth to the four corners of the wind, and the wind then blew it through windows and onto white linen, soft beds, and onto grain.”*
You are entering a part of a flat that used to belong to the Director of the State Railways Directorate in Ljubljana (the Drava Banate) to take part in the inauguration of Nos (The Nose), a new artwork by Žiga Kariž and the 42nd Made in China multiple, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Esteemed Visitors! Or better yet: Esteemed Delegates!**
“Bežigrad! Who could have predicted back then that Slovenian tenacity, Slovenian always-too-humble hard work would transform the empty, boring monotony of overgrown meadows and weed-covered fields, covered with life-draining dust, into paradise on the outskirts of the Old Town.”*
You are bearing witness to only the second public exhibition in Bežigrad realised by the artist. At the same time, it is only a pretext to hold a re-inauguration. A reprise of the opening ritual in the extra space available to GalerijaGallery minus 2 on Koroška Ulica 2c. Next to the stadium blessed by Hlond, August Hlond, at the opening of the Eucharistic Congress in 1935. The Pope's envoy himself, the Cardinal and Primate of Poland.
As someone born and raised in Slovenj Gradec, Kariž’s painting twin, Sašo Vrabič, exhibited in Bežigrad, the area Kariž sees as a mythic place, a long time ago – exactly at the time both twin towers of the World Trade Center fell.
“Bežigrad! Do you know, do you understand what the Sun is? Oh, all those who summoned paradise from you, they knew full well what the sun, or brother is!”*
Artistic multiples, even when they come from okay artists, can still be shit! Žiga Kariž, the Prince of Distances, washes his hands of the matter like Pilate when he shares the joy of creation with a complete female unknown from the street, an acquaintance, friend, or family member (when there are no willing enemies on hand), like a travesty of the army of female studio/workshop assistants he almost never had as a provincial artist. With one lone exception.
“The spring in Bežigrad is heavenly! The Sun is not stingy, but rather shares its riches extravagantly. In the city, the houses are still enveloped in cold and their walls are radiating ice and the smell of illness, while in the gardens of Bežigrad, the flowers are opening their buds and gold and silver hang on the bushes, while the white and yellow daffodils raise their heads and wink at the sun.”*
Le Nez by Alberto Giacometti is more than just an integral part of the body’s inventory. Picasso’s triangle can be anything, a nose, a foot... What about the triangle of Cezanne the Platypus? Who would want to have this? What to do to make the multiple stand out? Žiga Kariž puts the burden on the public (ideally, the buyers) seeing the art multiple. They are given a tool, a blue Pilot Matic BPS-135-F ballpoint pen, which they use to draw a nose on a white sheet of paper, physically giving shape to and establishing the artwork.
“In their spare time, officials, professors, merchants, artisans, and workers plant their spades into the soft earth and plant the seeds of life into it. In Bežigrad, all these people are nothing more but people, brought together in this area by a love for homes – a love for sunshine and health. And these people are aware that they have been created in God’s image and are therefore equal before the Lord.”*
Through the mental process of a sceptic and an abstinent, Kariž transfers the most personal artistic form onto others and changes it into its antithesis. The artist removes all excesses, and the prime goal is laid before him in clear and stark terms. This multiple is nude, freed from anything superfluous. An empty standard 75g/m piece of office paper, the most naked of all the types of paper.
“Oh, and the children! They are health, the sun, and flowers with flowers! Even the faces of the old men are young and even their grey hair evoke spring.”
The nose is (next to the beak) a motif he wandered into, one in which he has partially lost himself in several times, and which also allows him to find himself time and time again. Up and to including the most repulsive parts (the sebaceous glands). With his most nose-centric painting, Ich kann beim besten Willen kein ... (2023), Žiga Kariž pays homage to an influential foreign artist, married and buried in Jennersdorf on the Slovenian-Austrian-Hungarian border, just above the head of the cartographic chicken representing Slovenia, and also rejects the censorship of the People's Justice Banner artwork by the Taring Padi Indonesian art collective at documenta fifteen.
“Smell is detected by the sense organs located in the dome of the nasal cavity on the upper concha. The olfactory message travels from the olfactory senses along the olfactory nerve to the olfactory centre in the brain, which is close to the area responsible for memory and emotion.”***
“Oh, Bežigrad, place of peace, flowers, and greenery, sunshine and health, ye song of the cherry trees and vines, ye dream of God’s man become reality, where do you find the strength to not wither? You have extended your wings far and wide and I have yet to find your borders!”*
“That, which cannot be reached by the scientist is seen by the artist. Whoever works with inspiration has no paper before them; they only look at the idea, the image in their soul that is already completed.”****
“The summers in Bežigrad are warm and sweet and good in the shade. The autumns are opulent! Gold hangs from trees and the reddish withered leaves tease the wind that is playing with them. The autumn evenings are soft and dreamy. The wind rustles amongst the vines under the windows, untangling the birches and willows, stirring the carnations, and blowing over the empty beds.”*
Just as roofers see roofs everywhere, rhinoplasty surgeons can't escape the masses of noses. An oriental nose. A hooked nose. An evil nose. A good nose. A faithful nose. Behind the nose. In front of the nose. The buyer’s second nose. A schnoz. The Jazbinšek, Benigar, Hlond nose. The ears of Jasper Jones. The circumcision of the Jews and the Son of God. The nose as the sole organ. The nose as a smear on an image.
The Bežigrad area, a place marked by the oriental Other, was supposedly used as an encampment by a Turkish “bey” (or “beg” in Slovenian) during the siege of Ljubljana in 1472, giving rise to the name “Begov grad” (the Bey’s city) or Bežigrad. According to another hypothesis, the first half of the name came from the verb “bežati” (to run). “Bežigrad winters are winters onto themselves. There is no arguing, no grumbling. Thin paths lead from house to house and connect them as if with dark threads. Here and there you can hear the radio; children are studying in a warm room and the teacher is grading tests, the official is ploughing through his paperwork, and everyone is snug and warm.”*
I could make a small hole in the paper, pull a cloth handkerchief through, and think of nothing while breathing.
*Jan Plestenjak, Bežigrad. Published in “Naš Bežigrad”, ed. Vilko Fajdiga and Franc Jesenovec, Ljubljana, Stavbna zadruga Bežigrajski dom, 1940, p. 11–18.
**Delegation as a form of participatory art. In the series Working Environments (2019), Sanela Jahić presents 190 photographs of the workplaces of micro-workers for piece-rate wages in micro-amounts from different parts of the world through an online platform for remote mass micro-work. As part of TheSheepMarket.com project (2008), Aaron Koblin presents his collection of 10,000 sheep, for which workers on Amazon's Mechanical Turk platform drew a sheep facing left for $0.02.
*** https://sl.wikipedia.org/wiki/... >, 23 August 2023.
**** Freely interpreted according to Rihard Jakopič. In Izidor Cankar, Obiski, Mladinska knjiga, 1960, p. 33 (Nova založba 1920).