PROPAGANDA on Fri, 10 Mar 2000 05:55:12 +0100 (CET)

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>From "l'Unita'", 14 February 2000


Prank of art, art of prank

by Antonio Caronia

The truth has therefore been revealed. Darko Maver, the Serbian artist
who set Italy and Europe buzzing last year for the glumness, the
radicalism, but also the weirdness of his artistic actions, is an
inexistent person, he is a figment of the lively (according to someone),
morbid (according to someone else) imagination of a group working in
Bologna and known as 0100101110101101.ORG, the harsh name of their
Internet site, which is one of the centres of their activities. Since
1998 a webzine called "EntarteteKunst" ("Degenerated Art" ), a
periodical edited by some guys from Bologna, near to the Luther Blissett
Project, is available on the Internet. It is from there that the early
news about a mysterious performer-artist start to circulate: a man who
travels across ex-Yugoslavia leaving, in motel rooms and old empty
houses, gruesome sights of murders, realised with puppets (but that, at
first sight, seem to be real, disconcerting the neighbours and the
police arrived on the scene).  Some scanty biographical information is
spread as well (the birth in 1962 near Belgrade, the leaving of the
Academy of Fine Arts, in the same city, the move to Ljubliana, the
travels to Italy, the beginning, in 1990, of the travelling project
"Tanz der Spinne", "Dance of the Spider"), and also some short texts,
clearly delirious, about the "Disappearance of the body" and an unlikely
"Anaphoragenetica".  In August 1999, the Kapelica Gallery organises in
Ljubliana the first exhibition with the documentation of "Tanz der
Spinne", this show will be repeated the following year, in February, at
the "Livello 57" in Bologna. Meanwhile Darko Maver is arrested and
released, in Serbia and Kosovo, on several occasions, with the charge of
anti-patriotic propaganda, and he is locked up in prison in Podgorica
since the beginning of 1999. Maver's supporters in Italy spread the
notice through bulletins signed "Free Art Campaign". In March 1999 two
Italian art magazines write about Maver: "Tema Celeste" simply reports
the press release, "Flesh Out" publishes a more accurate article, with
images signed by the person who is now writing. In May comes out the
announcement of Darko Maver's death, in prison, in enigmatic
circumstances. An article in "Modus Vivendi", in July of the same
year, establishes a connection between Maver's death and the NATO war
against Serbia.  And the death put the final seal on his fame: Maver
leads to the 48th Venice Biennale, last September, while a complete
retrospective of the artist is organised in Rome at the "Forte
Prenestino". In June, a theatrical performance dedicated to Maver was
presented to the "Biennale of young artists", in Rome too.  Now the
claiming of the prank. But which is the meaning of this action? In this
same page, people from 0100101110101101.ORG, answer this question. But a
few words are due also from the author of this article, who wrote about
Darko Maver, as we said, in "Flesh Out" magazine last March. Actually
I was informed about the inexistence of the artist, and if I decided
(together with the editorial staff of the review) to reveal nothing of
what we knew, but on the contrary to support the operation, it was
because I believed in its usefulness: I knew very well that, sooner or
later, the prank would have been claimed, since it was conceived for
this purpose. This kind of actions are not new in the art world. It
would be enough to remember the huge penis belching fireworks ("The
Victory"), built by Jean Tinguely, which appeared to the amazed eyes of
thousands of people gathered in Duomo square, in Milan, the 28 November
1970, during a festival on the Nouveau Realisme (the day after, an
embarrassed press decided to skirt the provocation). Or the female
identity of Rrose Selavy with whom Marcel Duchamp, during the Twenties,
signed some ready-mades, building on the inexistent person a whole net
of mysterious hints and funny and arcane finds; among others is a photo
taken by Man Ray which, in reality, portrays the artist in female
dressing. These, and many other similar conceptual works, were thorough
critical interventions, as well as artistic expressions, made by figures
deep-rooted in the art world but, at the same time, conscious of the
fictitious nature, in a way inauthentic, of the artworks. The operation
Darko Maver, to a great extent, shares this tension to reconnect
(through the paradox) art with life, but it has a more specific meaning.
Which is not much that, as it can seem at first sight, to cheat critics
and journalists, with the purpose of heaping discredit on the art world.
The aim of the authors of the prank was also, of course, the will to
point out the artificial nature of this world, the role played by
critics and curators to establish the success or failure of artists,
more than their mysterious "inspiration". And, in the background, as
always, the fundamental role of the media, which contributes more and
more to attest the "reality", in the eyes of the citizen-consumer. But
all this, somehow, is well known also out of the underground borders,
even if, often, nobody thinks enough about it. The most interesting
thing in all this story, in my opinion, is that it brings out, with the
power of the joke, the social nature of artistic production. If there
aren't specific social institutions (museums, galleries, specialised
reviews, but now also squats, even groups of radical opposition) which
"guarantee" the art work, art doesn't exist. If someone in whom I trust
(a critic, a commentator) doesn't certificate the existence and the
value of an artist, the artist doesn't exist. But the agreement that
delegated to these specialised cultural institutions the job of
"managing" art (and culture in general), is now creaking, under the
impulse of the new technologies, of the Internet, but not only, also
under the impulse of the huge social decomposition and recomposition
which shakes capitalism, at long last globalizated. And then, between
the turns of these process, anybody can begin to speak, not to make fun
of art or to declare its "death" in the name of an avant-garde, but to
show its possible disappearance, reabsorbed into the flow of social
creativity. Darko Maver is not all of this yet, of course, it's only a
sign that this can be done.


>From "l'Unita'", 14 February 2000


Interview with 0100101110101101.ORG

by Antonio Caronia

Which is the difference between your works and "traditional" art?

0100101110101101.ORG tries to "show the mechanism". Instead of producing
a physical object (a drawing, a sculpture or a video, it doesn't matter)
0100101110101101.ORG organises information and deconstructs processes in
order to subvert, from the inside, the system of production,
distribution and fruition of art - beating it at its own game. Duchamp,
through his ready-mades, showed how, in our cultural system, containers
are much more important than contents: when an urinal is exhibited in a
museum, it immediately becomes an art work, even if it's still exactly
the same object that in all the rest of the world people uses every day.
0100101110101101.ORG only brought this concept to the extreme limit,
transforming even something inexistent into art: since Darko Maver
exists as a media creature (articles, exhibitions, posters etc.) he do
exist tout court.

But he exists only in media fiction, he's somehow "virtual".

The media universe is becoming more and more independent from reality.
The fiction of TV, even strongly distorted, depends in any case from
reality. In the modern media system, in particular with the development
of the Internet, this condition is going to disappear: virtual existence
is less and less binded to the real one. If 0100101110101101.ORG hadn't
claimed the prank, Darko Maver would still go on existing, setting many
people buzzing through exhibitions, documentaries, catalogues and so on.

What have you tried to prove through this action?

0100101110101101.ORG has tried to show the mechanisms which hold
contemporary art, to make clear that critics and curators are able to
create an artist, apart from the value of his works; this phenomena is
currently accepted or taken for granted and people undervalues its
impact. In Darko Maver case 0100101110101101.ORG has simply bypassed
intermediaries, succeeding in bringing more attention on process than on
art works. Darko Maver, in his declared inexistence, is paradoxically
more authentic than hundreds of presumed artists.  Art is a sort of
alchemy that, instead of changing metal in precious stone, transform
shit into gold (Piero Manzoni sold his excrement at the same price of
gold). Potentially everything can be art, the point is only to know the
rules of the game, and its tricks as well.

So, was it a provocation against art, carried out from inside of the
system itself?

Not an operation against certain institutions or reviews - "Flesh Out"
magazine co-operated since the beginning, to give an example - It was
rather a pure demonstration.  Art works, even the most radical ones, end
up strengthening the status quo because they strengthen the aptitude of
people to swallow passively strict rules and visual and behavioural
stereotypes. It's only disassembling these mechanisms that it's possible
to both understand and refuse them; we do not need more "art objects",
but works able to make people more conscious.

How do you think your activity could awake the audience critical mind?

A way can be, for example, to insinuate doubts: Darko Maver has been
completely constructed on nothing, therefore in a similar way also all
the other artists could be the same. Secondly, removing the aura of myth
surrounding the artist as creative genius, isolated from the world and
inspired by a muse, fatal ideas that have been dragging on since

And do you fell you succeeded in your intentions?

>From zero to the Venice Biennale in one year, neither Peggy Guggenheim
would have been able to do better. One more thing, 0100101110101101.ORG
dedicates this operation to Piero Cannata, the greatest and most
undervalued contemporary artist who carries on his incredible work, in
spite of the world hostility.

::: All the stuff on the "Darko Maver Affair" - works, articles,
photographs - is available at the url:

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