PROPAGANDA on Fri, 10 Mar 2000 01:10:43 +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

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 Romanticism.

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: http://www.0100101110101101.ORG/maver

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