press release

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back is a group exhibition, borrowing its title from a 1904 revolutionary pamphlet by Vladimir Lenin. The purpose here is not to relate to Lenin’s paper but to use its title in examining a situation where, seemingly for every attempt to make progress in a task, an actual retrograde performance is achieved. The exhibition focuses on “now”, at this very moment, the present in relation to time, future and past. What is our understanding of now? Do we live it, or deplete it by waiting for better days? What is reality and does it have to reflect upon the past in order to survive today? Are we aware and conscious of our history? Do we care about it? Could one exist without a past? What would future be?

Through performances, video, photography and installations, a group of international artists examines 'today' by reconstructing, revisiting and reinventing, not always pleasant but certainly significant moments in their lives; instants that for some reason are nothing else but the blemishes from the past, difficult to comprehend and mostly hard to forget. They may be someone else’s reality all together, yet mingled in a group consciousness that cannot escape it.

One doesn’t choose a war necessarily, or a flood, or famine… or even the trauma that such circumstances may convey. Still, one can relate to it with a full awareness of course or choose oblivion as observed in performances 'Still Life' by Vesna Milicevic and 'Which Way Is Left?' by Katarina Mootich. Both artists belong to the generation that once lived in Yugoslavia, now torn apart into many small countries. To be born in one place and to suddenly exist in another, without even moving your home, has confronting, psychological impact. Certainly one can rewrite history books and change all the symbols of the previous state, but would that mean one could just move on and forget? And if the history books are rewritten, whose past do Milicevic and Mootich relate to?

During the 90’s Yvonne De Rosa worked voluntarily in an old psychiatric hospital in Italy. Six years after the healthcare structure closed the institution down, the artist returns to the rooms and already decaying corridors to document the void left by the patients. Her 'Crazy God' project is a sensitive, touching study consisting of portraits of the objects abandoned by the patients and their wall writings – sentences that are often astonishingly lucid.

Similarly Petra Reimann in 'Unprecedented Development' visits the Stasi top security prison in the Former East Berlin in order to grasp unjust imprisonment and torture that went until the 90’s on her very doorstep. De Rosa and Reimann tap into this emptiness to record as archive before it is obliterated through the passage of time.

It is not surprising that the South African artist Nandipha Mntambo, in her video installation 'Ukungenisa', rehearses the steps of a bullfighter in an abandoned arena in Maputo where black Mozambicans once fought as entertainment for the colonial Portuguese. The bullfight staged by Mntambo is an atypical one, as she confronts a metaphoric bull. With a vacant arena, this once public spectacle has become a private act, a lonely dance, an intimate display of fear and a resulting fearlessness. This deeply moving and highly charged video retains all its power through the absence of a visible threat. An empty shadow makes it more difficult to set the fighting and the protecting apart: as confrontation and refuge, masculine and feminine, aggression and defence, they are by nature at opposite ends of the same spectrum.

Perry Bard’s ‘Man With a Movie Camera: The Global Remake’ is a unique documentation of daily activities from a myriad points of view, uploaded by the general subsequent uploads were processed by software that specifically archived, sequenced and streamed the work to create a film which spans a single day unfolding from sunrise to sunset incorporating footage shot in a number of cities, often using the same shot more than once.

By applying hair onto herself, donated by the audience, Oreet Ashery in her performance 'Hairoism' transforms from a general of the Israel Defence Forces during the '50s to a senior member of the Palestinian organisation Hamas. Once more she metamorphoses from the current Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs to a rock star… and yet again until her body and face are covered entirely by hair visually shifting into animal... ape?... monster?

Perhaps one should just let go! Or slow down at least as Kira O Reilly in 'Stair Falling', attempts to find moments of balance, which are lost to the ungainly. Let go as Judith Witteman may suggest in her installation ‘(1947 - )’, consisting of her mother’s entire collection of perfume bottles she had been using over a period of 25 years. Her mother kept them all, perhaps refusing to surrender to the present, which is certainly not the case with Witteman.

In her performance 'Oracle', her entire body is smeared with honey, which slowly slides down until lying flat on the ground. Its creeping descent, moving little by little, resembles a slow-motion dance. The artist cannot see. She is unable to hear, being utterly alone in her on world. She is vulnerable and not aware of what surrounds her.

Vulnerability continues in Meta Grgurevic’s blood bleeding ballerina entitled ‘Unhappily Being Happy’ or Jessica Lagunas who removes her pubic hair and applies mascara, nail varnish and lipstick in a ritualistic manner until her body is transformed from its beautiful, natural condition into an increasingly chaotic, masked muddle.

But where is the future in all this? Do we really want to know? And even if we do, there is no way we can. Perhaps one should just let go of time and exist in this very moment, because it is the only one you know you certainly have. Alternatively, should we see time as a spiral, all moments in time existing simultaneously, and in that second, meaning is intensified, loaded and wisdom in the emptiness of not yesterday and not tomorrow is left in the viewer’s mind.


Tuesday 12th October 8 pm– Yvonne De Rosa / Crazy God / Photography & video installation / Mestni trg 15 8.30 pm – Vesna Miličević / Still Life / Performance / Škuc Gallery 8.30 pm – Maflohé Passedouet / Between the Lines / Performance / Škuc Gallery 8.30 pm Katarina Mootich / Which Way Is Left? / Performance / Škuc Gallery 10 pm – Miya Masaoka / Laser Koto / Sound performance / Škuc Gallery

Wednesday 13th October 12 noon – Discussion with Oreet Ashery (moderated by Predrag Pajdić) / Škuc Gallery 3 pm – 4.30 pm – Round table with artists’ participation (moderated by Predrag Pajdić) / Škuc Gallery 11.55 pm – Oreet Ashery & Robert Foddai / Three Bridges / Action in a public space/ Three Bridges

Thursday 14th October 12 noon – Discussion with Kira O’Reilly (moderated by Predrag Pajdić) / Škuc Gallery

Friday 15th October 2 pm – 8 pm – Kira O'Reilly / Stair Falling / Performance/ Gruberjeva Palace 2 pm – 8 pm – Oreet Ashery / Hairoism / Performance / Škuc Gallery 8 pm – 9 pm – Judith Witteman / Oracle / Performance / Škuc Gallery

All discussions and presentations will be in English.

only in german

Kuratoren: Predrag Pajdic, Mara Vujic

Künstler: Oreet Ashery, Perry Bard, Stefania Bonatelli, Meta Grgurevic, Katharina Hesse & Lara Day, Jessica Lagunas, Vesna Milicevic, Nandipha Mntambo, Katarina Mootich, Maflohe Passedouet, Kira O´Reilly, Petra Reimann, Yvonne De Rosa, Judith Witteman.