Tomislav Gotovac

Don't Ask Where We’re Going

April 12 – June 10, 2018

MGML, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Tomislav Gotovac, “Three Monkeys” (No Hear, No See, No Speak), 1979, photography
Institute of Tomislav Gotovac, Zagreb.

Retrospective exhibition gives an overview of the sixty-year practice of Tomislav Gotovac a.k.a. Antonio G. Lauer (Sombor, 1937 – Zagreb, 2010), a pioneer in many different media, from experimental to structural film, from happening to actions and performances.

Beginning with his first photo series, films and collages (dating from 1960 to 1964), and ending with his final actions and performances from 2009, the retrospective follows Gotovac identification with marginal characters, all of them eccentric mavericks who confirm the artist’s settling on the fringes of society. We meet Gotovac’s artistic personas, from the urban nudist, elated preacher, embittered curser and witty agitator to the paranoid artist and relentless obstructer of public peace and order. 

Along with Gotovac’s anthological works, the retrospective includes documentations of his actions, from court records to newspaper articles. These are presented here as the ways of expanding an artistic act into extra-artistic spheres, but also as a confirmation of Gotovac’s broadened understanding of film. With an aim of getting closer to the artist’s feeling of reality, this exhibition approaches film as Gotovac’s model for the creation of art and for directing his own biography, where the line between reality and fiction becomes blurred. This retrospective traces the author’s directing approaches in cinematic and non-cinematic media – from collages and photographs to actions and performances in intimate, public and media space.

In line with Gotovac’s approaches and instructions for reading his art, which are found in his statements, interviews, titles of his works and films, the exhibition is captioned with the titles of some of his works, with his mottoes and his intimate footholds. The questions of artist’s autonomy, the ways of playing with predetermined roles, the examination of the relationships between an individual and the dominant majority, the artist’s reckoning with official stories and mass media depictions – all this is interwoven at eight ‘stations’ of the City Art Gallery, from the initial room named "I’m innocent!", and all the way to the retrospective within the retrospective called "PARANOIA VIEW ART". The specific architecture of the Ljubljana City Art Gallery, with its circular direction of viewing the works, highlights the circle as the favorite form of Gotovac’s works. Moreover, it points to his ever-present principle of upgrading, continuing and recycling of the existing works and his insistence on the open form of their interpretation.