"Margins" opening video for the presentation in Belgrade
Margins in the Midst Anica Tucakov
Observing Aleksandar Maćašev’s latest artwork, Margins, a visual diary in the form of blog art, I assume that most audiences would, considering its title, think immediately of Derrida's notion that margins (introductions, notes, footnotes, scribbles…) are key to understanding an author and his work.
Considering Margins I thought of an altogether different kind of margins – the cracks in edges and boundaries, sites of intrusion into other people's territories. When I considered writing this text I was drawn to Brian Willems’s essay Devoted to Fake, which is based on 19th century scientific debate about Physalia jellyfish and its nature: is it a singular and unified organism or a colony of separate organisms?
The question initiated a further debate on the continuity between the singular (individual) and the plural (community), which incorporates aspects of both. In this case I would shift focus to the nature of Aleksandar Maćašev's work, blog art, personal vs. collective experience, isolation, individuality and unwanted intrusion into others’ spaces.
People are often considered as individual organisms, but it is all a matter of perspective and viewpoint. Margins were created mainly in the spaces of author's various homes, in the ambience of self-appropriated territory that projects a sense of security and control. While the author was moving from one city to another, he offered us views of his personal space, simultaneously distancing himself from his social role as a an entertainer (I just want to be taken seriously). But human body is much more part of the outside world than we are ready to admit, even in this case. Boundaries between our bodies and the outside world are blurry and observing such elusive margins helps us understand our nature and culture better.
Margins reflect many aspects of author's previous art practice – social and media commentary (Salon Anarchy), with the very obvious aspect of public display of own psychological states (Overload, I don't want to be loved, I just want to be adored), which are the basis of any intimate diary; dealing with the social frame of mind (Sanctuary, What's your excuse?); and the occasional allowing to enter the poetics of his private stories (Our home is fading away). Margins set the boundaries for us when attempting to encounter intimate confessions, so the exhibitionism of those personal and family stories becomes an artificial product based upon personal experience (Desiring Machine). This rather risky play with honesty questions the true nature of these margins: how much do they protect, is all this really true, what degree of trespass is actually allowed?
While consumed in homes, offices, Internet cafés, Margins could be seen as a new point of contact, tentacles that the author attempts to reach us with, entering our own space, drawing attention, making noise and media glitches. The media sphere, one of the author's favourite themes, could be observed through the lens of Baudrillard's interpretation of extreme contemporary explicitness as a sort of social pornography. Maćašev uses the obscene media white noise as a mise en scène for commentary on public and private explicitness and sincerity.
At the same time, new reading of Aesop's fairytale about the cricket and the ant (Serres, The Parasite) states that we are witnessing a change whereby the cricket becomes a necessity and ants are seen as creatures of the system, ruled by order, rationality, classification, immaculate hygiene, with every infection or unknown entity eradicated. Ants keep the margins clean, while the cricket sings, annoying the ant, making a mess and producing noise. The noise creates complexity that enables development of any system. Unexpected «intrusions» into our lives complicate the entire system and reveal, for a moment, its true nature. And Maćašev was always so noisy.
Margins are interesting from the point of view of blog-art strategyies of infection (viruses and parasites are often used in his web artwork) but the author also takes on the role of the curator and mediator. He raises thus a question of contemporary new media curatorial practice that requires a balance between control and transformation. The role of the curator, as well as questions of control, power, selection and agency, is being reformulated. Curating becomes a question of software, and the author himself arranges and orchestrates his own work. He has chosen the form of blog-art that requires constant updating and reorganization of content, all of which makes his work even more amorphous.
Blog-art brings us back to the question of the relationship between intimate/private and public/collective. The computer screen that we stare at undoubtedly propagates a feeling of intimacy and privacy; it is one-on-one exchange and blogs are blurry margins in-between private and public.
Finally, alongside social engagement, the work of Aleksandar Maćašev is clearly marked by its ignoring of established social norms. He plays with identities, slips from one to another, refusing to belong to any group. He doesn't accept already made margins so he creates his own, in order to maintain some kind of stability in the alienation that he has chosen. And alienation creates either eccentrics or revolutionaries.
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