Gildo Bavčević / De_stabilisation
Ecology of the heart
In the last ten years, as he is exhibiting more intensefully in the art scene in Croatia and beyond, Gildo Bavčević builds and profiles his artist position on the one hand through a very direct critical attitude in dealing with current / hot topics of immediate socio-political reality and on the other hand with a clear message, which he sends through out his artistic engagement, about the necessity to assume individual / collective responsibility in defense of values without which there is no just, human, and free society. First of all, in the wake of Bavčević’s interests is his birthplace Split and the dynamics of the city where the tourist season never really fades, and the rhythm and atmosphere of everyday life that are determined by infinite flows of people, overcapacity, infrastructure overload, urban congestion, especially of the old, protected city core and consequently a series of complications. As a reaction to this issue, the artist performs three actions for the camera at the mentioned site (video 021_123) by opening (through absurd interactions with the passers-by and ironization of the tourism process itself) numerous issues related not only to the (non) functioning of the city but also to the changes that were caused by it, for example deindustrialization of the area as well as their contribution to various appetites in which the little man is again forgotten and everything is put in favor of profit.
Let us thus remember Bavčević’s film Solidarity Network, a valuable document on workers’ protests in the area of Split-Dalmatia County in attempt to prevent the destruction of factories and personal existence, as well as the ways and opportunities for joint civil actions to develop and to establish resistance strategies, in this case, (local) political and business elites, their constituencies in the usurpation of common goods for easier manipulation and privatization of these which, unfortunately, otherwise make the harsh reality of countries in the territory of former Yugoslavia. In this context, we also recall the artist’s performance/intervention White Balance when, with the symbolic gesture of bending white flags at Koteks Gripe (Split) sports and sales center and the military complex in Koprivnica, he reactivated the fates of the mentioned spaces that were in the past three decades “left” to their new denominations and transformations that conditioned either by controversy of economic transition or political decision to wipe out the memory of a certain historical period. The flaunting whiteness of the flag will be the central motif in his recent video Ignavi – people without Stand, referring to Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and its characterization of neutral, undifferentiated, “souls”, inadequate for heaven or hell, conceptually completing the previous interventions by talking about passivization, discouragement, confusion, emptiness of today’s post socialist but also contemporary societies as a whole. The imperative of responsibility that we must have in front of the surrounding world, heritage and nature, is almost manifestly toned in Bavčević’s works, calling for awakening of all ordinary people and for the general mobilization in the protection of common interests, return to justice, liberty, equality, empathy, understanding and tolerance, and the ideals lost today in everyday survival struggles, as we obediently bow to, assemble or compete for bits of capital, just like in the artist’s performance Hunter. In order to rise up and stop being slave, artist warned us in one of his early performances Fall, oh, force and injustice, where he, using the lyrics of the eponymous revolutionary song and in the iconic pose of the almost forgotten national hero Stjepan Filipović’s with raised hands and clenched fists which, as a miracle, induce metal coins, a powerful symbol of refusing evil fascism, Bavčević produced in the act of miracle that must indeed be – the liberation from the imposed values of the most powerful of all ideologies today – money.
And that’s basically just a piece of paper or a piece of unrecognizable metal that Bavčević demonstrated again in the action PROFIT vs. WELFARE, using the repetitive act of hitting the coin to disintegrate its material value as well as power, reminding us that we also turned this civilization good against ourselves, transforming it into a measure unit of human life, a tool and instrument of manipulation, conquest, destruction of peoples, territories and nature. With our activities we have a radical impact on everything, we have become a geologic force on the planet, destabilizing the relationship with nature without which we can not exist, exploiting and destroying it with our personal consumerism, corporate interests and profits by replacing and devastating landscapes with shopping centers, luxury business complexes and landfills. The question of environmental survival, individual and collective non-conscience, neglect and absence of any social / state strategy in preventing potential ecological disasters are the focus of several artist’s works In cooperation with nature, Plastic Man Machine, Meadow From The Dream, especially in the latter video performance in which Bavčević addresses the immediate threat posed by Split’s garbage dump, Karepovac. At this location, a children’s choir and an orchestra perform the song Neka cijeli ovaj svijet from the musical Jalta, Jalta by the Croatian composer Alfi Kabiljo, until the clarity of their interpretation of the vision of the existence of a fictitious, utopian place does not at one point begin to be distracted by the white masks placed over their faces, returning them to the reality of the sordid, contaminated environment marked by today’s “sand dunes” as part of a solution or just as a part of the strategy that the existing problem is masked and thus forgotten. For the last few decades, we are witnessing the tendency to amnesize societies, revision of historical facts, relativization of war crimes, suspension of the memories of anti-fascist resistance and the suffering of people who have not silenced or closed their eyes at repressive nationalist systems.One such place is Dotrščina, a place of mass suffering and a eternal resting place for thousands of citizens of Zagreb and the surrounding area during the Second World War, where Bavčević in his audio-performed installation Pulse pays respect to the entire memorial space with his own heartbeats, using the metaphor of the pulsating life force, which was here violently interrupted for many, as a medium of linking the present and past time, but also as a clear attitude of not allowing the memory of the tragic events and the victims to fade or be manipulated by any ideology or politics. Nationalisms in the region are once again a part of the trend, as a proved means used by the ruling political elites to turn eyes away from the economic devastation of the society, the collapsed material status of citizens, the unscrupulous party occupation and the obsolete existence of institutions, their sluggishness, media manipulations in potentiating fear from others, political opposition, fellow countrymen, migrants. It was all this that Gildo Bavčević had in mind several years ago when he did his performative intervention Homework, trying to use a fire extinguisher to “bleach” a national symbol – the Croatian flag, thus commenting on this act as a symbolic healing of the flag and extinguishing the flame of accumulated national pain caused by true existential and social problems that smolder and dissipate in today’s Croatia.
It could actually be a call to the act of self-healing of every individual, here and elsewhere, the introduction of Internal Control, as the artist titled one of his actions of marking consumerist spaces and advertising contents with simple and important words such as: meaning, honesty, dignity, conscience, generosity, gratitude… countering them as the true values and needs of our consumer aspirations. Otherwise, without these small everyday reminders, “what should we really be?” as we type our codes on ATMs, pay lottery tickets, stand patiently in line for flexi credits, we can expect state of slowed disoriented mass, blocked in countless lines of personal agendas and tendencies, normalization of impossibility to see and emotionally feel someone else or to determine and take an attitude in the defense of general interests, more than ever endangered by the emergence of new structures, systems, mechanisms of subordination supervision and abuse, and ultimately ending in total management of our bare lives. Destabilization, which was chosen by Bavčević as the leitmotif of the exhibition at Salon Galić, introduces the works first as an intervention into reality, an attempt to use the original meaning of the term – subjugation – to name the necessary process of changing the existing order of things, our lull and silence no matter how much we are (un)aware, (in)voluntarily loud or silent. For that we are warned in the gallery space primarily by the heartbeats, the universal inner strength that we must adopt as the constant intimate, social need and the responsibility to protect the lives of others, to preserve the common environment, bravely resist anyone who in any way wishes to usurp or take it away.
Gildo Bavčević (Split, 1979) is a multimedia artist primarily preoccupied with different forms of socially engaged art, addressing both political and social problems. He participated in a large number of exhibitions and festivals in Croatia and abroad. He is the finalist of the Radoslav Putar award (2018). Beside that he won the prize at 39th Split Salon exhibition of contemporary art (2015) for his video performance Plastic Man Machine and took the first prize at 46th Croatian Film Festival (Revija hrvatskog filmskog stvaralaštva) for his documentary Solidarity Network (Mreža solidarnosti). The documentary film was part of his graduate thesis in 2013 which he obtained his MA in Film and Media Production from Split’s Art Academy where he received the title of teaching assistant. He enrolled the PhD program of practical studies in the field of new media art at the Faculty of Fine arts in Belgrade (2018).
Beside his solo practice he is engage in many different collaborative projects, from performance art to film projects, video art and music, also recording and editing sound and image, “appearing” in cinema, producing and mixing music for films, playing in a band, DJ and so on. He is the author of many videos, performances, video installations, short films, as well as the author of sound in few feature length films He is a member of the Croatian Freelance Artist Association and Croatian Visual Artist Association-Split.