© Irena Lagator Pejović, Resistence Reservoir, 2012. Equation in english, montenegrin and german written on an ex Mazut (fuel oil) reservoir @ garden of the Ministry of Culture, public project for Cetinje, Montenegro
“All utopias fail in the Balkans: the greater Serbian principality in the Middle Ages, the Ottoman Empire, the Danube monarchy, the greater Serbian monarchy, the Yugoslavian multi-ethnic state, market-based socialism and, in the future possibly, the European Union, too.
At the same time, all the states that arose from the legacy of the old Yugoslavia have to find new identities. The permanent diminishment of the states since the Ottoman Empire and the Danube monarchy were dismantled into tiny states such as Kosovo did not solve the fundamental problem of the western Balkans: the establishment of ethnically homogeneous societies which, in an ideal scenario, represent the basis of the modern nation state.
The new societies, too, are ethnically heterogeneous structures, the basis of which cannot be, in the long term, about ethnicity and nationalism – their downfall would be the price to pay. These societies are thus unintentional laboratories of the post-modern era and have an uncertain outcome.(…)
Irena Lagator understands her artistic function as “a social strategy”; art as the vehicle of the human – that is, of the social civilising. With this claim, she belongs to a post-avant garde generation of artists who no longer herald the presumptuous claim to the liberation of mankind and the salvation of human pre-history from misery. The radical art avantgardes of the classical modern period often forgot that the freedom of art also always contains its social responsibility. Art’s complete freedom implies the artist’s absolute lack of responsibility. Political theory can sing a song about the absolute freedom of the totalitarian agitators; aesthetic theory still has to learn it.
The project on “unlimited social responsibility” sets high standards among societies which would only like to take on limited responsibility. Even over fifty years ago the conservative art historian Hans Sedlmayr spoke of the “loss of the middle way” which, among other things, he saw in the radical autonomy of the arts and the ever-threatening collectivisation of societies.
Irena Lagator avoids the danger of pronouncing (artistic) truths by devising multiple realities; and by changing perspectives she denies the observer and artistic creation any one-dimensionality. Her installations with thousands of material fibres may communicate an insight into the fragility of our knowledge and what we believe to be certain.
What is more, her installations communicate an awareness of how fleeting time and space are, of the finite nature of everything and of human endeavour. Nevertheless, she calls for responsibility on the part of artists and societies: with gentle reason she reminds us whether we want to find ourselves in the museum of the humane or in the memorial to the collective lack of reason, to the barbaric lack of responsibility.”
excerpt of Michael Ley‘s Art and Reason, or: Art as Social Strategy