A Paradox of Values

Andrej Tisma’s exhibition “Transition: Impossible - First Aid – Do-It-Yourself: Commercials Advertising the Fight for Mental Survival” at the gallery “Podrum” in Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro

by Milos Arsic

Andrej Tisma’s exhibition of digital prints called “Transition: Impossible” confirms his preference of an artist’s active relationship towards the “real reality”. His concept of art only seemingly implies direct, narrative statements which, owing to his ability (and gift) to create ambiguous meanings of the “recognized”, turn into metaphors.
This cycle of digital, semantically reformulated concepts, carefully chosen advertisement photographs, predefined by the standpoint towards the impossible, does not imply the bitterness of a pessimistic relationship towards the observed controversies of economic and political transition. By juxtaposing two realities (the relationship of “bleak reality” and consumer ideals), he simultaneously manages to integrate them into an exciting unity which, by meanings and immediate warnings about the obviousness of the moment of incompletion (“softened” by the aggression of commercials as a virtual replacement for the possible), he turns into a meaningful intrigue.
Concerned rather than apathetic, ironic rather than pessimistic in view of the “bright future” which transition brings, Tisma questions his own emotions and his way of experiencing aggressive commercials of “prestigious” products (Reebok, Lauren, Boucheron, Coca Cola, Boss, Yamaha). They are “second-hand reality”, delusive images of false values from the controversial domain of fortune which existentially endanger and trouble him. His response to reality “from across the street” is directly enunciated in the illusions of digital prints which are implied in the universal world of The Picture (equally a picture-representation, a “marked representation” or a picture of signs), in the reality of its delusions. The response is forced but also appropriate, the delusion which is an implied unit of the persuasiveness of The Picture (digital print), measured by the recognized, becomes the reality we unwillingly give in to, although we recognize it as not being the world of promised content. Tisma does not address queries about the meaning of fortune; he accepts them as the traps of a reality milieu he is being suffocated by, in which he does not belong due to his sense of the measures of value. His artistic engagement does not coincide completely with the possible political relationship towards “reality in the making”. He is interested in the artistic reality of the “nonfinite reality”, artistic truthfulness, regardless of its being part of a representation or a sign, which makes existential contrasts of the “moment of transition” relative and places them in the sphere of the impossible.
The explicit warning that one should take matters into one’s own hands (“First Aid – Do-It-Yourself: Commercials Advertising the Fight for Mental Survival”), since only recognizing “brand” products in a sea of rot, decay, destitution and poverty, is basically viewing from a distance regardless of the level of acuteness. Tisma manages to avoid political rhetoric about the known; he uses a direct statement which is simultaneously a metaphor about the ambiguously possible and a message which is immediately visually shaped and interpreted in different ways. The controversies of the values of transition which he observes and the semantic traps he places, are transfused into realistic illusions of precisely shaped, usually “marked” representation, into visual wholes of “esthetic dizziness” of a convincing plastic sense. His relationship towards the structure of the digital print is closer to the “esthetic vision of the world and society” than to the pragmatic, rhetoric opinion about the domain of fortune and values. The basis is an intimate questioning which Andrej Tisma does not wish to keep to himself, he “reveals” his privacy to active “viewers” and draws them into the world of his own perceptions.

(Dnevnik, Novi Sad, March 21, 2006)
Translated by Snezana Perc

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