David Maljkovi

Montreal

at VOXâ??Centre de lâ??image contemporaine

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Zagreb-based artist David MaljkoviÄ? is known for regularly reconfiguring his work and reflecting on its exhibition history. Curated by VOX director Marie J. Jean, MaljkoviÄ?’s first major Canadian exhibition spanned four rooms and included 18 pieces made between 2003 and 2016, many of which have multiple past and present iterations. For instance, A Long Day for the Form, first shown at the Kunsthalle Basel in 2012, appears in two versions here. In one of these, originally conceived for Vienna’s Georg Kargl Fine Arts in 2014, a rectangular platform made of wallboard is built around one of the gallery’s square columns. (In Vienna, visitors had to walk over the platform to reach another room, but not at VOX, where it was much smaller.) A second square hole contains an open cardboard box holding a modernist bronze sculpture “protected” by green packing peanuts. The sound of crickets emitted by the work magnifies the sense of emptiness: while the packing material fills the void around the modernist sculpture (which resembles the kind produced under Yugoslav Socialism), only crickets break the silence enveloping the once-utopian form. 

Yugoslav sculptor Vojin BakiÄ?’s World War II monument on Petrova Gora, a mountain range in central Croatia, pops up frequently in MaljkoviÄ?’s work. Completed in 1981, the steel-clad architectural structure commemorates a failed anti-Fascist uprising and once housed a war museum. Today, missing panels of the curving facade reveal a derelict interior. At VOX, the slide-show work In Low Resolution (2014) offered a few glimpses of the monument. In the 80 projected photographs, pixels “redact” the main objects of interest, which may be anything from a discarded piece of furniture to an element in one of MaljkoviÄ?’s exhibitions. In several slides, the pixelated object is a model of BakiÄ?’s structure, its form so iconic that it remains identifiable. Atop the model is a silver soccer ball. The viewer familiar with MaljkoviÄ?’s work might recognize the ball as a prop from his film trilogy Scene for a New Heritage (2004-06), which imagines people from the year 2045 visiting Petrova Gora on Marshal Tito’s birthday. 

The slides were projected onto a mural-size, black-and-white inkjet print, which was titled f_l_a_u_b_e_r_t, after the Instagram user who shared the photograph. One of seven Instagram images printed on the walls throughout the exhibition, it depicted In Low Resolution as the piece was installed at Metro Pictures (the artist’s New York gallery), where the screen for the piece was an even earlier photo that the artist took of projector screens during a show of his at the Palais de Tokyo. This multiplying documentation highlights the self-reflexive character of MaljkoviÄ?’s practice, acknowledging the important role that social media plays today in constructing art’s sense of both past and present. MaljkoviÄ? remains fascinated by different modalities of time. Between the disappointments of the past and the utopian future once projected by obsolete modernism, the present exists in a kind of parallax view, a distortion produced by lines of sight that never converge.