In his second exhibition at Gaep, Damir Očko continues to requestion political implications and codes of social control, while re-articulating them through forms of violence, fragility, and resistance.
The title Pear Fate Meter – an anagram of the title of Očko’s first exhibition with the gallery, Repeat After Me – is, undoubtedly, the artist’s essential gesture for understanding the key premises of the exhibition. This is reflected through two main elements, videos and works on paper, which define Očko’s dedicated and tireless agency that discloses how violence is inscribed in our daily routine and how this affects the artist’s perception on the notion of freedom.
The juxtaposition of elements from DICTA I and DICTA II is perhaps the most direct representation of the idea of critique of social “neutrality”, as Očko analyzes from different perspectives the ideological levels of language and its uses. As always in the context of Očko’s work, the exhibition formally focuses on film, expanding, developing, and analyzing it through a series of visual and graphic elements.
On the upper floor, the intervention takes the form of a site-responsive installation that avoids the classical gallery presentation by consisting of three different sculptural structures for the display of collages. Although the collages seem deceivingly less political than the films, especially in the sense of defining language as political body, it needs to be stressed that they are without a doubt political on the level of delineating personal space and freedom.
In opposition to the upper floor, Očko intervenes in the basement space with the films DICTA I and DICTA II, which in a way resolve the “code” given to the viewer before. The “distorted dictionary” that the artist accumulated over a significant period of time, which on the upper floor may seem a formal play of partial language structures, now discloses itself as a composite socio-political reality. It is clear that the language and its deconstruction become the focal point of the artist’s agency and can be seen as his precise analysis of the use of language in the context of particular social groups.
The relation between upper floor and basement can be seen as a tension between formal “Dadaist” deconstruction of language (collages) and “Dadaist” agency to undermine the fundamental structures of rational, ordered society (films). But at the core of Očko’s reason always lies language, which is stripped of its legibility and meant to expose the arbitrary relationship between words and their meanings.
In times of global anxiety, ambiguity, and abuse, when one’s existence is permeated with fear, body exists as an entity in which different imperatives refract and reflect imposed social relations. In the context of the works presented in the exhibition (as well as in the artist’s practice as a whole), this fact can generally be seen as a critical commentary on the specific linguistic assemblage that results from the power relations of our contemporaneity.
Text by Tevž Logar, curator