Fokus Grupa: People Love Monuments

People Love Monuments

Fokus Grupa

18th September – 18th October

Preview Weds 17th September 7-9pm

Transmission gallery are extremely excited to present a solo show by Fokus Grupa, an artist duo based in Rijeka, Croatia. The collective – comprised of Iva Kovač and Elvis Krstulović – borrow their name from a contested research method, used equally for independent research as for PR purposes, and through their work they point to the social, economical and political frames of art. Their practice is collaborative and interdisciplinary, and they work across art, design and curating. This is the first time Fokus Grupa have exhibited in Scotland.

The exhibition People Love Monuments, examines the role of monuments in nation building. These ideologically charged pieces of “state design”, ocupy and dominate public spaces in order to perform and represent the state, but also to frame it's “audience” within the national paradigm. Fokus Grupa presents a series of works that take specific monuments from Croatia as their point of departure, in order to critically examine their underlaying politics and trigger debate around cultural identities and their role at the current time. 

The sculpture of the mounted Governor [Ban] Josip Jelačić, its positioning on Zagreb's main square, its covering, subsequent removal and later re-installment has served as a kind of litmus paper for the extended plot line of Croatian national identity. The statue was made by an Austrian sculptor, installed on the Zagreb main square during the Austro-Hungarian empire and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia but removed in the first years of the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. At that time the square changed its name from Ban Jelačić Square to The Square of the Republic, and the monumental sculpture of the horseman was replaced by different temporary constructions, that signified a variety of values, from industrial development, socialist celebrations, international political and economic affiliations.

In 1991 the horseman was re-installed (and the old name of the square was re-introduced) but this time the sculpture was facing south instead of north, as if to face the new enemy. Pointing Jelačić's sword to the south, post-Socialist Croatia strives to align itself with Central Europe as opposed to the Balkans.

In 1994, a Monument to the Croatian Heroes was made during the questionable restoration and reconstruction of the medieval fortress above the capital.

Only apparently a minimalist sculpture, the monument is a rendering of the medieval heraldic pattern originally intended for formal political manifestations. A kind of political stage, for a while abandoned in the early twothousands, today it gets in and out of media spotlight, reflecting a state of affairs at any given moment.

In the context of the Scottish independence referendum, the work sheds light onto ongoing questions of nationalism, statehood, self-determination and identity on an international level. The works in the exhibition take monolitic singular state narratives embodied by monuments in order to complicate and open them up for the viewer to step in.

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