WIA featured artist Jasmina Cibic works in film, sculpture, performance and installation to explore ‘soft power’ – how political rhetoric is deployed through art and architecture, particularly examining how cultural production is used by the state to communicate certain principles and aspirations. Through unfolding the complex entanglements of art, gender and state power, the artist encourages viewers to consider the strategies employed in the construction of national culture.
Gathering together symbols and iconographies, Cibic’s projects present a synthesis of gesture, stagecraft and re-enactment. Realised in films and installations, her on-going performative practice is an ‘enacted’ exercise in the dissection of statecraft. Her multi-layered approach draws together primary sources and falsified narratives. This wilful overwriting creates shifting meanings and highlights historical uncertainties and untruths, especially in the gendering of the past. Cibic plays a double-game, at once decoding mechanisms of power whilst building her own allegorical structures.
Shortlisted for the Jarman Film London awards last month, Cibic is WIA featured artist this week.
WIA: What are you doing today?
Jasmina Cibic: Preparing for a series of lectures and talks on my recent project currently on view at DHC/ART in Montreal.
WIA: Tell us about your creative process.
JC: My practice is research based, cross platform oriented and it reaches out to a number of different professionals from fields of art, architecture, philosophy, history and politics. My creative process attempts to create a ground for debate and further research and draws in very different voices – not only cross discipline but also cross-territory. As I am dealing with the questions of decolonisation of specific, potentially geo-politically exotic themes within the art world – I find its vital to include diverse territorial and field inclusions and their discontents.
WIA: Describe where you do most of your creative work.
JC; Different phases of my work demand different spaces of production. So I nomadically follow individual project’s paths – from my studio, to dusty archives, site visits, location recces and finally days on sets of my films and installs – which I enjoy the most.
WIA: What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
JC: That would most definitely be my project For Our Economy and Culture – with which I was invited to represent Slovenia at the Venice Biennial. I chose to play a double game – and create a total installation where I summoned together failed and successful icons of national presentation from the country’s history. These included an endemic beetle named after Hitler and the artworks hanging behind the backs of the politicians in office.
WIA: What made you decide to become an artist?
JC: I find art one of the best fields to explore different typologies of knowledge and bring them together into new proposals of critical thought. I still find it super exciting and I love the fact one can continue to reinvent the rules of one’s practice to fine tune and sharpen its outcomes. Basically continuously tear down and rebuild.
WIA: What are you currently working on?
JC; Currently I am in research phase of my next project, so spending most days sourcing specific case-studies and archives, discovering exciting new writers and researches. The topic is once again looking at soft power like my past works – but from the other side of the medal – instead of scrutinising its national mechanisms I am looking into the complicitness of cultural producers in the construction of ideological spectacle. Seems about the right time to be self-reflexive.
WIA:Do you listen to music while you work, and if so, what’s your soundtrack?
JC: Glenn Gould.
WIA: What are the key themes in your work?
JC: In the last years I have been engaged in the study of archival remnants of soft power cultivation, where art and architecture have been utilised and commissioned by various nation states in order to co-create and establish their new ideological face. So world expositions, state branding, failed ideologies and nation states have been the main chorus of my thematic.
WIA: What would you like people to notice in your work?
JC: I strive to create immersive installations and films, which function as readers into specific themes, unpicking nation-building, statecraft and gendering them. Despite the complex entanglement of the discourse I present, the final outcomes are not intended as complicated didactic exercises, but spaces where I invite the audience to immerse into. Not only mentally but also bodily.
WIA: What attracts you to the mediums you work in?
JC: The creation of teams behind the project. Meeting always new people and learning so many new things and being humbled by the incredible creative energy out there.
WIA: What equipment could you not do without?
JC: My laser measure.
WIA: Who or what inspires you?
JC: My 9 year old daughter and her girlfriends.
WIA: How does gender affect your work?
JC: I have been very fortunate to be able to work with some of the most incredible case studies of patriarchal construction of state endorsed architecture from some of the key moments of European identity crises of 20th Century – such as the launch of the Non-Aligned movement in Former Yugoslavia in 1961 and Mies van der Rohe’s projects for Krefeld art collectors – which led to Mies being chosen as the architect for Germany’s re-aesthetisation at the Barcelona 1929 EXPO. Delving into these themes, and political transcripts surrounding their discussions – one finds the female voice is completely absent. So I chose architecture itself as a metaphor for the body of nation state – an allegory I equipollate to Mother Nation – which paradoxically needs to lure and protect at the same time. So my projects are very much driven with the gendering of the (present and) past and the female body always features as the carrier of emancipated political thought.
WIA: If you could own one piece of art, what would it be and why?
JC: The Croatian sculpture Vojin Bakić’s Statue of Marx and Engles from 1953. This bronze sculpture was stolen in 1981 from the former Political School in Kumrovec where it was on loan. Today it is apparently installed in a garden of a private house in Zagreb. To my knowledge it has not even been reported stolen by the Museum into which collection it belonged to.
WIA: If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be, and why?
JC: The architect Vjenceslav Richter who created most of former Yugoslavia’s EXPO and trade fair pavilions.
WIA: Is there an artist, movement or collective you’d like to see re-evaluated, or a contemporary artist who is underrated?
The art coming from post 2WW Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav modernist architecture from that period has been amazingly presented and debated at the current exhibition at MOMA in New York, and it would be incredible to see an exhibition going to such detail on the artists from that time and space.