The Greenhouse was originally conceived and realized as a site-specific installation and as such it was situated in the garden of the house where Brajnović lived during his one-year stay in London. Immanently to his practice the artist has started from the object as a powerful symbol and by its accumulation — i.e. from the position of an archaeologist of contemporariness who is going to, as much as his civilizatin circle and heritage allow him, naively interprete his first encounter with English society — he gradually raised the issue of the identity crisis which is at the same time the cause and the consequence of our relationship with the world. Brajnović uses the established identification schemes and conventions, balancing between banality and multiple significance of the ideas as national anthem, king/queen, gentleman, London fog and their possible historical, political, cultural and social connotations thus creating a testing ground not only for the analysis and criticism but also for the understanding of the state of society as well as the individual who has to reflect himself in the other in order to define himself.
In “The Greenhouse” Brajnović placed cheaply acquired objects – books, photographs, lamps, typing machine or teapots that were bought, according to the inveterate English habit, on the markets or in the second hand shops or were simply found in the street. In the process of realization of the project he associatively played with many more issues. The greenhouse itself reminds us of the British obsession with gardening or hobby while the teapot with a tea cup naturally brings to mind the unomittable five o’clock tea. Once established “The Greenhouse” was a reminder of the traditional/typical home of English middle class. The atmosphere of familiarity and privacy was achieved by the animation of the space: the table lamp was turned on and the old, scratched record played «God Save the King». The old black and white 8 mm film was projected on the greenhouse wall showing the smoke pouring out of the installed recipient – just like London fog, still present only within an outsider’s imagination. It is unnecessary to stress out that the host gladly manipulates this prejudice. On the screen of the old television set we follow Brajnović’s performance when he, wearing a morning suit rented from «Lipman & Sons» and handling a walking stick form «James Smith & Sons Umbrellas», strolled Bond Street and Piccadilly Circus in London.
Such descriptive and narrative strategy includes even more stratified cmmunication as some kind of initiator of collective memory – area concerning monarchic system of government of the former world power, relationships between high and middle classes, foundations built through centuries for a recognizable and always reliable brand of commercial paradise. This strategy will become even more complex when the object is going to be extracted from the context that socially defines it and placed into a condensed gallery space where the signified/the object becomes the subject that manipulates or is manipulated by the signifier and by the recipient/the public. The hybrid abundance of subjects enclosed within the reflecting apparatuses of history and myth, modernity and tradition, center and periphery, is shifting away by appropriation and representation from rhetoric while complexly spreading into the multilayered processes of interpretation of another/self, our emotions, notions, values and beliefs.
The artist’s position is clear: shifting the weight from the historical to the actual he is striving to articulate a discourse about the time when the humanity crisis arose after the society/art killed God. As an obsessive analyst of the powers of world domination he is interested in whatever happened to the democracy, a way of re-establishing of the belief in the possibility of balance between the humanity and nature as well as means of hearing the word and initiation of the dialogue after the media and technology jam. That is why we may consider “The Greenhouse” as an engaged search for a moral axis (although it might seem as a utopistic illusion in the contemporary cynical world) which does not exclude hope as a possible realization of the complete being.
Text by Ruzica Simunovic on the occasion of the exhibition and catalogue in the Miroslav Kraljevic Gallery, Zagreb
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