Can you imagine few years ago 3 established American artists joining the Republican Party and then legally changing their names into George W. Bush? And since than bringing the name of the president of USA (or any other country leader) at museums, exhibiting next to Robert Gober or Barbara Kruger, festivals, showing work next to Meg Stuart and Nature Theater of Oklahoma, galleries, presenting video along Bruce Nauman…
The shift NAME Readymade will present wide range aspects of the “Name changing” gesture perpetrated by three Slovenian artists who in 2007 officially, and with all the papers and stamps required, changed their names to the Slovenia’s economic-liberal, conservative prime minister at the time, Janez Janša.
"When the three artists changed their names to Janez Janša, they in fact adopted a critical stand to the state. To the Slovene government, in which until recently all posts seemed occupied as it were by a single person – Janez Janša. (...) Through the multiplication of Janez Janša’s name, the function of the prime minister has assumed, within this specific artistic action, a similar position as the Campbell soup cans in Andy Warhol’s works." (Zdenka Badovinac, Name Readymade, October 2008)
All Janez Janšas’ works, their private and public affairs, in a word their whole life has been conducted under this name ever since.
"(...) the gesture is—from now on—in constant process: it will be semiotised in connection with their every new work of art and public appearance, therefore it will take some turns unprecedented in other known forms of subversive affirmation." (Rok Vevar, Večer, September 1st 2007)
Works exhibited in the show NAME Readymade in Graz, October 2008 (valid ID cards, passports, credit and bank cards, driving licences, birth and marriage certificates, and so on) are generated by the reality itself. In the history of art, such readymades did not exist. Personal documents such as personal identification cards, passports, health insurance cards, credit cards etc. cannot “simply” be bought in shops, recontextualized, turned around, exhibited and produced as readymades. To obtain them, one needs to initiate a process: you have to initiate an administrative process to obtain them.
Janez Janša, Janez Janša and Janez Janša cut right in the midst of their own realities and the reality of the space and time, in which they work. For this purpose they used procedures typical for art – transformation, translation, representation and mimicry. They turned around the classical relational scheme between art and life as it was developed in the 20th century. Art in previous century is redefined by way of reality entering into artistic contexts without mediation (so that Badiou can define the 20th century as the passion for the real), while Janša, Janša and Janša want to achieve the opposite so that their methods cut deeply into their material lives and the lives of their immediate surrounding.
"(...) the completely subtle and seemingly unpretentious gesture of three artists changing their names to Janez Janša fundamentally intervenes into the artistic and broader social and political space. Perhaps we can learn a lesson from this, namely, that great artistic creations are sometimes found in seemingly marginal, minimal gestures." (Jela Krečič, Delo, 29 December 2007)
Forum Stadtpark, http://forum.mur.at
Project is supported by: the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture, Government of Styria, City of Graz, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana
Special thanks: Akripol d.d., Kristjan Celec, Quentin Drouet, Branko Filipič, Emina Frljak, Garfield, IB Procadd d.o.o., Kira Kirsch, Stane Klemenc, Boštjan Martinuč, Eva Martischnig, Aldo Milohnić, Barbara Orel, Peter Rauch, Peter Šenk, Rok Žunič.