Visions of Ordinary Life
It would be a mistake to take the part of Marko Kovačič's work infested
with socialist symbols as a kind of nostalgia for the old times because
it contains a heritage which some people would rather deny. Yet, can it
be denied? Haven't we survived it, that is, hasn't it become ours for
all times, as it were? In a modified form, of course, somewhat like the
red star, with Kovačič's intervention, became black.
The Prophecy of Zeus is everyday
life: a living room which is also a children's playground, a small library
and a television corner. Its style and contents belong to the time when
socialism was still eternal, and to the childhood of a whole generation.
It might as well have been exhibited in an ethnographic museum under the
title The setting of everyday life in
The only object reworked considerably in this setting is the television
set, reminding us of Edward Kienholz's own 'ethnographic study' The
Beanery in which only the faces of people are transformed (into
clocks). In both cases, the intervention works as interpretation, but
in contrast to the abstract idea of (wasted) time in Kienholz, Kovačič
opens for us a very concrete new space with wholly new dimensions. The
chair in front of the set evidences that it is being watched, although,
as a consequence, the spectator is necessarily facing away from the rest
of the place.
This spectator, however, is absent from the Prophecy.
The place is filled with signs of life but abandoned. Only in the television
set, there are some beings, fantastic, yet alive. As if the actual life
were taking place there and not in the ordinary living-room. However,
even that life is frozen.
We have learned that television is first of all the surface of its programme,
then the box of the set, and Kovačič opens up the latter into yet something
else, a setting within the setting, the world of 'the people in the box'
- spearheaded by a partisan throwing what very much resembles Zeus's lightnings.
This is certainly not unrelated to the place obtained by television in
everyday life. What place is more ordinary and yet more obscure? Television
is one of the great devices without which there is almost no life any
more, to the extent that 'actual life' may be said to take place precisely
on television, on the level of spectacle which arranges inconsistent everyday
life into a series of tellable tales.
In the Prophecy, this spectacle
takes place in the set, as an interrelated play of technology and mythology,
and there is but one tale, unchanged, fixed. To watch television in this
setting is to eternally observe a one and only scene, just as the whole
Kovačič's ambiance is frozen in time.
In describing the ambiance as unpeopled, we neglected a small detail:
that it is peopled by us when we enter it. Thus the spectator becomes
part of the scene, inhabits it and participates in it as its integral
part. Just as in Kienholz, time stops for the participant, even the time
that normally flies across a television screen. The spectator takes part
in the scene which is undoubtedly historically determined yet eternal,
just as neither the whole technological progress (i. e., always new types
of TV sets) nor always new (or re-made) stories don't move for an inch
the constant in this scene, which is the position of a spectator in front
of a television set. This is the reality of the spectator's - our - situation,
our fate; thus, upon becoming a spectator, one ceases to be alive and
becomes a mere place in the relation with the observed object, represented
in the Prophecy by the empty chair
in front of the set.
(text on The Prophecy of Zeus ambience;
from the catalogue of the exhibition Media in Media: SCCA-Ljubljana, City
Gallery, Ljubljana, 1997)