Dalibor Popovič / I legoman
Looking at the starting block of Dalibor Popovič’s exhibition, before I even started recording anything about my concrete impressions, it was clear that it was an omnibus exhibition of very serious post-historical infantilization, about a type of art that circumvents the modernist media borders and the usual narratives of “great stories”. Exhibits are placed in a kaleidoscopic circle of presentations and in a dense semantic relationship. They call for immersion into controversial meanings which make it difficult to read and make a man miserable. This will trigger the question of how to actually decode a sign that is not completely integrated with its own visual markers. After all, it’s about the puzzle of all art, all of its variants – how to establish a connection between shapes and the timeless essence of things. The exhibition is a provocative concept beyond the logic of standard representation and narration. The visual truth, collapsed into self-discernment, does not help criticism or the thinking of the reflections in the traditional way, but in a somewhat eccentric, shifted way of telling small, personal stories.
The vast majority of people and nations live their present as if it is correlated with the past, as if the past is an important part of the present. In Croatia, the Vorgangene Zukunft is a type of inherited reflexes and no soothing recognition. Especially since the collective-socialist alliance fell divided into individuals. It is visible in Popovič’s work as a perspective of a child: it sees a ball as something polygonal.
Ever since he went to the second grade, neatly combed and dressed as Tito’s Pioneer, the author met the Lego world and, surrounded by hundreds of scattered parts, decided not to mechanically join the ideological parade, but he decided to join the artists who, like the famous Robi K., raised their hands and asked questions. Even then, he had a different view on things, like Grass’ Oskar Matzerath, a three year old drummer who refused to grow up, not only because he disagreed with his father and mother, but also with the world about everything that had to deal with reality, ideology, politics, and even his grandma who fooled around in a potato field and eventually got pregnant. Though the exhibits with accompanying statements are more or less joking scenes and a scenography for an animated movie, Popovič’s job is not a joke overdrawn in its ambiguity.Moreover, it is a display of the pessimistic answer from an intimacy that begins with childhood and never ceases to usurp our primacy with resentful pain as when your dad wraps in The Hajduk jersey with zero joy, wallowing in sorrow over another defeat.
The central point of the exhibition is the red wreckage from the First World War, hovering – it is a product of a child’s fantasy loneliness.The Red Baron, the Little prince, Franjo Kluz are characters of the unbeaten series of comics (Never a Slave) and also the context and a reminder of this seizure of the past.
Picigin is notorious for distorting the facts about what its definition means at all, especially to someone who does not belong to this naked fraternity, this blasphemous and a voyeur group that is unrelated to the movement for children’s rights.
The witch must be crazy, diving her nose in the fortress. All that we can recognizes from her is a bloody Rorschach pattern and a black broom.
Finally, my friendly reading proposition does not dissolve and deplete the exhibition but, perhaps, the reader himself. Popovič’s works should be read through their individual history, with the author’s explanation of how and why they were put into the world, but also through associated testimonies that have amusing mimetic, moralistic, psychoanalytic and political features. It is up to each of us to try to find the bars for Popovič’s stylistic chains and to pull the meat off his artistic bones.
PhD Dalibor Lovrić