The power and vulnerability of the firefly

Sanja Cvetnić / 2019

The fate of each artist is situated somewhere between the oft-cited words of Martha Graham, “No artist is ahead of his time. He is the time. It is just that others are behind the time”, and, perhaps even more well-known, and certainly more enduring, is the Old Testament wisdom – “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun”(Eccl. 1:9): this reflects the fates of artists who have been cursed and of those who have been divinized. Zlatko Kopljar (1962) is one of those artists who most profoundly experiences both fateful points, as well as the tension between both statements concerning artistic and human existence. In a quick survey of his oeuvre, if we filter by the key words of “time” and “artist”, many of his works apply. We encounter these elements in an art installation (1993) named after an inscription engraved on a metallic plate, Panta rhei (Τα Πάντα ῥεῖ), in which the beginning of one ofthe most famous Greek philosophical sentences is reinforced by the high voltage with which the work is charged and in an abstract video, K9 (2003), to which the artist’s own DNA forms the key. We see the topics “time” and “artist” in the tableaux vivantsportraying a company of “dead” painters in a series of photographic portraits of colleagues, maverick artists all, in K11(2007). And we find these elements in the striking stills from the performance K16(2012), in which Kopljar, dressed in his silver, phosphorescent suit, digs himself a deep grave that slowly swallows him up, along with the light that reflects off  his silver suit, glowing to the end, like a big firefly in the darkness.

In his body of work, the main art strategies are performative rituals (scarifications, memories, bowing, giving) by which he explores the limits and semantic knots that typify the time and place in which he lives. These strategies seldom have any private or intimate meaning – unlike K6, an intervention out-of-doors, whereby he stencilled an outline on the asphalt to mark the spot where his father was killed in Slavonski Brod with the numbers “23091992” in a compressed computer font beneath the rectangle, which denoted the date and the place where his father died on September 23, 1992. His works usually have a more universal meaning. Zlatko Kopljar executed the dramatic, collective performance in final shots of the film K17in New York City (2012), whereby he depicted a group of deprived-looking people standing in a row, connected with a rope they are holding with their teeth: this is a commentary on the preceding and final shot in which the film exposes loneliness, the conscious personal loneliness (but not that alone) surrounded by the heaving life of New York City with its multiracial population, iconic yellow cabs, graphic billboards and other attractions that are assimilated into the simulacrum of urban society. In this sense, Nataša Lah (2014) interpreted Kopljar’s art mission, in the context of the urban installation K19(five monumental brick menhirs that bear witness to the concentration camps):

… to answer the question about the encounter between subjective and collective memories in an artwork is only possible in a readymade reality of an interpretation, that is, in a ‘secondary discourse of commentary’ which opens up a new context for the understanding of the old worlds and translates new worlds in the language of old world experiences.[1]   

The encounter between the subjective and the collective constitutes the dramatic basis for Kopljar’s very powerful performances-for-camera, for exampleK14 (2010), depicting the brutally empty and bleak structures on the periphery of Zagreb, with anonymous, apathetic zombie runners who are swallowed up by the dark crater of abandoned industrial halls; or K15 (2012), filmed in Warsaw, in which he restaged the arrival of the West German Chancellor Willy Brandt at the railway station in Warsaw, his car journey to the Ghetto Heroes Monument commemorating the Jewish resistance (April – May 1943) and Brandt’s Genuflection in December 7, 1970, the gesture that became so famous it has its own name in German, Kniefall von Warschau. The German Chancellor received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971, and eventually a monument in Warsaw (on a square named after him) in his honour, with a plaque depicting him in an eternal gesture of humility in commemoration of the victims of the Second World War. Kopljar’s re-enactment, in which he performed the role of Willy Brandt (accompanied by a similar-sized crowd of people as the historic Kniefall von Warschauas well as passers-by), took place on the actual location. But Kopljar’s performance is a negative of the historical event: it took place at night instead of by day; Brandt was dressed in a dark suit and the artist wears the phosphorescent suit; even the wreath he lays at the memorial – which had an important role in introducing Brandt’s gesture – was a luminously reflecting copy of the original. Kopljar’s replayed gesture cannot have been a mere historical re-enactment as entertainment, since his questions about the validity and power of that gesture today – expressed through its resurgence and re-enactment – opens up an abyss of doubts: was theKniefall von Warschaua spontaneous, subjective gesture, or a consciously collective gesture? And did it really take root as a collective (and therefore, not exclusively German) act of humility?

For me, however – and I apologize to artists and readers – this artist’s relationship with ritual and its artistic role changed somewhere nel mezzo del camin, in the middle of the life of contemporary man, and certainly at the beginning of the middle period of the artist’s creativity. Initial direct links with dramatic patterns for victims and memories, or ritualized human relationships expressed in performances, videos and installations, fascinating in their powerful conviction (like real victims, devastating pain of memories, physical exposure of human touch in art analysis), have been replaced by the sober simulacrum of ritual which enabled a wider overview and opened up the space for criticism, philosophy, irony and other abstract relations with permanent themes in his body of work.

Though it was not a sudden shift, artist’s strategic changes from taming the world with ritual, announced and expressed in the exhibitions Sacrifice (1992), Vinculum(1995), Give and Take / Donnez & Prenez (1997), to the sober simulacrum of ritual – which became fully apparent in Zlatko Kopljar’s K20 Empty(2015) and Reliquary(2015-2018) – were actualized in a series of sober and restrained black and white prints on canvases showing the performance with the encrypted title, K10(2004). This multi-layered work is entitled as one of the K-works (the abbreviation K stands for “construction”) with a number, which means that the title of this work, and the other projects or works that are named in this way, does not indicate the literary or other visual content or idea in the work. Numbers were added mainly chronologically, from the first K1(performance with a deaf and blind person using sign language, 1997), although the numerical progression was not always consistent. Some K-works had a sequel, were elaborated with a year or more after the first K-work of the same index, but they are still numerically connected to the main work (for example, K9was made in 2003, the first K9 Compassionin 2004, and K9 Compassion at Homein 2010).[2]K10is different, since it has no successor or sequel, and only the round number 10 (or binary 1 and 0, switched on and switched off?) allows for the conjecture that this might concern a turning point. 

At the exhibition K10, held at the Glyptotheque of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zlatko Kopljar displayed six large-scale UV-digital printsoncanvases. Dimensions (200 x 170 cm) were chosen to show a human figure – the artist himself – at a scale slightly larger than life. The artist’s figure dominates every shot in a dark interior: he is sitting on a chair, shown in full profile or semi-profile, dressed in black trousers and a white shirt. Six canvases depict more than a single moment, since they document a series of exposures that show him moving back and forth with his upper body for several hours, whilst sitting on the chair, legs tucked under it and firmly on the ground, and his hands tightly holding onto the seat of the chair. The black background of the subsequently painted passe-partout and the immovable seated lower body are in sharp contrast with the torso and head, which are constantly swinging, like an inverted pendulum. The intention was to take photographs showing at least two to four postures on the same canvas, including the swish of the white torso-pendulum and the trace of the head between the outer extremities of its arch. 

The whiteness of the torso-pendulum in the darkness and the barely distinguishable description of the background (we can see only a fragment of the wooden floor) reveal the constrained swinging movement and the artist’s body as the cycle’s central themes. Miško Šuvaković in his monograph on the artist, Mapping of the Body/With the Body(2005), wrote that it is like a ritualistic, shamanic entrance, through movement, into the space that touches on the divine.[3]However, the movements are neither monotonous nor devotional and swinging is not “mantric” because the differences in speed indicate a  different number of recorded postures, for which there are two or more. The images also capture the constant spasm: the artist does not perform movements that are rhythmic and soothing; he endures an unceasing tension: he is vigorously moving his torso and head whilst being constrained in the chair and anchored to the ground. 

Now, in retrospect, I am able to understand K10as a turning-pointbetween two major chapters in the artist’s oeuvre, and as a lasting performance representing Kopljar’s creativity and artistic role, almost as a metaphor. The artist sitting on the chair is a rhyton, a cultic vessel for art rituals, art activity and the oeuvre, but the next step in contemplation of the cycle of canvases in K10also requires a gallery visitor, a spectator. The canvases are elevated, as is usual in the gallery setup. In contrast to spectators who are generally standing, the artist in the displayed artworks – larger than natural size – is sitting (and swinging). The meaning of this contrast, of a person sitting whilst others are standing, has been already explained by Giovanni Bonifaccio, in one of the most unusual tractates from the early modern times dedicated to body language or body speech, L’arte de’ cenni(1616).[4]Bonifaccio described around six hundred postures and gestures that human beings are able to perform to hereby achieve a mute loquaciousness (muta eloquenza[5]), and in his lexicon of body gestures he explained that sitting is an “act of serene firmness”.[6]Sitting on elevated plane while others in the same space are standing, emphasizes the person’s eminence, so our guide from the seventeenth century, using the universal – as the author frequently stresses  throughout the book – gestural language, reminds us that it is a sign of magnificence, of grand, almighty dignity, referencing divine persons, and judges (righteous judges were heroes in antiquity, the Middle Ages and in early modern societies) because by sitting in an elevated position they were said to be able to soothe their spirit and be prudent in their judgements.[7]

However, according to Bonifaccio’s guide for understanding bodily gestures, keeping the arms close to the body (as the artist does in the series K10, holding his chair with hands) reveals that the sitting is not composed and in an elevated spirit because “holding the hands along the side of the body is a sign of humility, submission and subjection, signalling that one does not want to use his hands for work,  defend himself or resist”.[8]But the nervous movements of the swinging artist in this series of twitches recorded in the photographs propose an entirely different interpretation: an attempt to overcome constrained sitting. Moreover, Bonifaccio described them as the bodily sign of a person’s wish to unburden himself and throw off the yoke: “It is a challenging gesture against submission, to regain liberty…”[9]Reading Zlatko Kopljar’s K10through the prism of Bonifaccio’s work, a tractate that is four centuries old, and accepting his claim that the gesture language is part and parcel of human nature, universal in time and space, suggests the gesture has a universal significance. The meaning of the above-described bodily gestures is verified in literature, from the Old Testament and antique texts to poets or painters (sparsely) from his time,[10]and we can also verify his claims today. Furthermore, layers of meaning connect the contemporary artist Zlatko Kopljar with artistic traditions that lie well beyond painting because, through Bonifaccio, he is connected to the history of poetry, and even the history of social ceremonies or dance. 

Kopljar’sK10is the artist’s physical, highly aesthetic answer to the responsibility society bears towards artists’ fates,art heritage, art cannons and institutions, and also the social contexts the artist faced at the beginning of 1990s, when he first entered the art scene. In Zlatko Kopljar’s elevated seated position we can distinguish an homage to the divinized artist enthroned at the time of the giants of the Renaissance, and in moving his upper body back and forth we can discern what might be termed as a constrained furor artisticus, his creative impulse and force. With the opposition the former and the latter, fully aware that he is not able to ease the tension thus created in his body, in his spirit and his artworks, Zlatko Kopljar concluded the first phase of his artistic endeavour, during which he stepped onto the art scene and found his place in it, and then headed off for new art explorations. 

The sobering simulacrum of the ritual in Kopljar’s artworks does not constitute a withdrawal from reality or an acceptance of hyper-reality, as defined almost four decades ago by Jean Baudrillard in Simulacres et simulation(1981),[11]because the subject matter in Kopljar’s art is always dense and powerful; it is never fluid or dissolute. He is closer to the concept of “performatism” defined by Raoul Eschelman in his book, Performatism, or the End of Postmodernism(2008):   

The author, in other words, imposes a certain solution on us using dogmatic ritual, or some other coercive means. This has two immediate effects. The coercive frame cuts us off, at least temporarily, from the context around it and forces us back into the work. Once we are inside, we are made to identify with some person, act or situation in a way that is plausible only within the confines of the work as a whole.[12]

Zlatko Kopljar as a young artist entered the art scene with an energy that was fierce, like a force of nature, like thunder or hail. His exhibitions were full of blood and noise; we could hear the loud and passionate voice of the crazy Domenico raging against a loss of humanity, from the movie Nostalghia (1983) directed by the greatRussian filmmaker Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky; Kopljar’s installations and performances were dangerous for the audience and the performer.[13]In addition to the above-mentioned potential exposure to high voltage electricity in art installation Pantha rei, the artist fired a gun, smashed the walls of the gallery with a sledgehammer (K2), flogged himself and other participants in a performance (K3), saturated the gallery space with unbearable noise (K5), dove into a pile of feathers and good/bad pills (K7), blocked the entrance to a gallery with a concrete block in a site-specific intervention. Perhaps it was a loud and very visible protest. His exhibitions and performances, such as Sacrifice(1992), Dangerous spaces(1993), in which his re-enactment after the old masters portrayed in our times a most moving sacrifice from the Old Testament, as shown in the photograph The Sacrifice of IsaacLove Shot(1996), a performance with the shot from the rifle, K2(1997), the performance in which the artist tore up sheets of paper that composed the programmatic sentence about his role in art before attacking the gallery walls with a sledgehammer, or K3(1997), a performance with flogging, are powerful attacks on the boundaries of the location the artist had mapped out as the material space for his activity.  

A change in the rhetoric of art speech, from vigorous philippics to epideictic blame, is marked as a turning-pointin K10and is most visible when we compare constant themes in Kopljar’s research, for example institutional power (galleries or museums) in confrontation with the powerlessness of artists. Kopljar’s early attacks – both full of youthful vigour and serene albeit quixotic – on those impenetrable social monoliths, is most visible in the site-specific action K4, recorded on DVD (2002). In a nocturnal action which took place in the context of the group exhibition Here Tomorrow, Zlatko Kopljar – using trucks from a construction site – placed a twelve-tonne concrete block in front of the Museum of Modern Art (at its old location in the historical centre of Zagreb, Gornji Grad). The concrete block corresponded in size to the measurements of the institution’s doorway – the museum which was itself the organizer of the exhibition (with guest curator Roxana Marocci) – and in this way he sealed the usual communication between the museum and the public space of the square on which it was located. To place a monolith in front of a monolith constitutes a resolute display of strength. 

More than a decade after realizing K4, Zlatko Kopljar expanded the topic of the relationship with institutions – institutions that have taken on an aura of divinitasfrom artists– and other social and state monoliths on a bigger stage, the scene of the art world, or at least of the Western cultural scene. The horizons were expanded and the material nature remained the same (concrete), but the scale became smaller. The display of strength in loud dissent, in which the artist used tonnes of concrete and heavy construction machinery, was gone: Zlatko Kopljar changed his art tactics using a protest, which calls for the mental engagement of the audience and seeks an intellectual alliance. His commentaries or callings are not directed to a single institution/museum/gallery because, for him, they are universal symbols of an equally universal friction between institutional power and the individual.

In 2015, Zlatko Kopljar made K20, an art installation which consists of miniatures cast in concrete of the buildings of the Museum of Modern Art (K20 EmptyMoMA NY), New York, and Tate Modern, London (K20 EmptyTATE Modern), along with two extracts of video footage that depict a concrete shell in grainy details and have been lit to emphasize pictorial finesse. Those emblematic “cathedrals” of the art scene were transformed into small, decipherable icons in three dimensions, but left void of people and artworks, without content and power. Kopljar has reinforced an exorcism of museum icons in the sequel to K20, shown at the exhibition entitled, Faith, Love, Hope(Glaube, Liebe, Hoffnung; 2018), organized in the context of the celebration the eight hundred years of the diocese in Graz. For this occasion, both miniature museums/icons were cast in silver-plated bronze and patinated, and received the title Reliquary(2015-2018). In this way, artist borrows the liturgical prestige (the ennobling materials, the title), although this simulacrum in the same movement exposes emptiness because, unlike reliquaries containing the physical remains of saints, we cannot open these museums/reliquaries. They do not possess any power either, as was noted by the exhibition’s curator Johannes Rauchenberger (2018): 

Art, as the self-appointed heiress of religion, has adopted the forces and claims that once distinguished religious images: aura, truth, unconditionality, sovereignty of interpretation. Their sacrosanct status is transferred here to the image plane of former religious reliquaries: the cover, however, is firmly sealed.[14]   

Moreover, the purpose of liturgical reliquaries is to visualize their ritual feast (prayer, bowing, kissing or touching) whereby the (parts of) holy bodies placed in them are honoured; all that disappears in the exhibition hall. Prayer doesn’t help, bowing is inappropriate, and kissing and touching are forbidden to visitors in exhibition halls. MoMA and Tate Reliquariesare not the only “paraliturgical notables” in the oeuvre of Zlatko Kopljar; already in 2002, in K8, he introduced this topic with the performance attended by professional nurses. They drew the artist’s blood, to which he added an emulsion to prevent coagulation. He then placed the vial with his blood in the hollow of the glass cube: Reliquary. We only need to juxtapose the museum reliquaries without content made in the middle of the second decade of twenty first century with this reliquary containing the artist’s blood from the beginning of the new millennium, and the ritualistic distinction and shift towards ritualized simulacra in Kopljar’s approach becomes visible of its own accord. 

However, if we compare this work with K9 Compassion(2003), made a few years later, the approach is different. K9 Compassionis again a series of large-scale UV-digital colour prints,documenting an artist kneeling in the Dumbo neighbourhood (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), Brooklyn, New York City, with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background; the second shot was taken in front of the Guggenheim Museum, and then on Wall Street, in Chinatown, at Times Square, on Broadway near the AMC theatre, and in front of the United Nations Headquarter skyscraper, all in the same city which is in itself a highly influential icon of pop culture, film power, theatre and music power, financial and art power, and many other powers of the modern world. Prints showing the kneeling artist are large enough for iconographic recognition of the locations and his figure is of course smaller than these. You recognize him at once by his posture (kneeling), by his achromatic black clothes and a small white cloth placed under his knees, secluding him like a prayer fence from the surrounding world. With his posture and his suit, he stands out in colourful streets, so the artist’s person figures as a hiatus, standstill or a break in continuous activities. 

K9 Compassionpremiered in 2004 at the Biennial de São Paulo,which had as its theme “Free Territory” (Território Livre). The German art critic Alfons Hug was the general curator, and Branko Franceschi was in charge of the Croatia area. In contrast to the curatorial guidelines for the entire biennale, Hug said that artists today are smugglers of images between cultures. Edward Leffingwell, in his commentary published in Art in America, honed in on K9 Compassion(with a reproduction of the artist in front of the Guggenheim Museum) and said that Zlatko Kopljar is an uncertain pilgrim in an American Mecca.[15]A few years later, when the success of K9 Compassionwas confirmed and established, Krešimir Purgar, the theoretician of visual media, offered an elaborate analysis in his study, “Iconology and ideology – Zlatko Kopljar’s K9from the perspective of visual shift”, written for Kopljar’s exhibition in the Gallery Waldinger in Osijek (2007). In addition to Kopljar’s “performative-political gesture based on his conviction of the social responsibility of the artist”, Purgar wrote about the spectator’s uncertainty and reluctance to push aside the seductiveness of visual representation, and instead to follow the gap that Kopljar opened (before the well-known world crisis and the Occupy Wall Street movement; let us recall Martha Graham’s claim at the beginning of this text). The spectator enjoys these photographs of the performance as if they were attractive tableaux vivants:  

Kopljar’s performance shows that we can no longer establish an emotional connection with any content or deeper reason underlying his now metapolitical act, because we no longer experience this represented reality as an image of the real world, but as a picture-fetish served up by the media. In other words, we have once more believed in the power of an image and have once more surrendered to its seductive powers. The hermeneutics of pictorial representation has prevailed over dramatic performative gestures, however much the motivational potential of the latter made it seem more destructive and stronger. We intuitively feel that Kopljar’s ethical standpoint is completely justified; in the end, however, K9 Compassionis a metaphor for the unequal power-play between the individual and the institution of political-economic coercion when our sympathies are always on the side of weaker one.

At the same time, however, we cannot and do not want to resist the seductive energy of the photographic tableau.[16]       

Purgar’s assessment was also confirmed by the invitation to Kopljar to present the K9 Compassionseries, in a subdued black and white version, at the exhibition Sanguine: Luc Tuymans on Baroquein Milan (Fondazione Prada, 2018). In this exhibition, conceived as an opportunity to “juxtapose the spirit of the Baroque masters with the vision of top contemporary artists”,[17]Tuymans recognized Kopljar’s gesture as baroque, and Bonifaccio in the seventeen century would probably have seen it the same way.[18]At the beginning of the first Baroque century, the Italian treatise writer invoked antique authorities (Aristotle, Homer) and extended an interpretation of kneeling as an act of humility, respect and observance – indicating physical or spiritual submission to the person to whom one is bowing – to the dance floor. Today and in this context, we would say – to performance. In this case, kneeling indicates that the devotional or submissive posture contains a spirit of doubt in the outcome (“accenna animo dubbioso”), namely the doubt that his appeal expressed in this gesture will ever be heard.[19]

Zlatko Kopljar also confirmed Bonifaccio’s reading because he did not submit himself, but broadened the field of the struggle. Leffingwell’s uncertain pilgrim began his travels bearing in mind a doubt regarding the success of the mission, but he was emboldened by the possibility that this humble gesture would turn the attentions to the centres of world power which are able to “change the world”, in the same way in which he had announced his art mission previously. It is as if he were following the example of the line in Fred Ebb’s famous tune, “if I can make it there, I’ll make anywhere” – in the memorable interpretation of Lisa Minnelli in the movie New York, New York (1977) directed by Martin Scorsese, after which Frank Sinatra canonized the song as the city’s unofficial anthem (1979) – Zlatko Kopljar expanded the field of his ritual simulacra kneeling. The programmatic sequel to K9 Compassionwas K9 Compassion + (2005). In this series, the artist’s clash with the emblematic structures of global political power is even more obvious. 

As an individual coming from a small country without a colonial past and with no cultural training in the colonial habit to boldly conquer meridians and parallels (or to self-evidently take responsibility for global events and developments), Zlatko Kopljar followed his unexpected and exceptional pilgrimage to the places where world politics are defined. In K9 Compassion + he still refused to protest loudly; he didn’t carry any banners, nor did he shout slogans, but documented himself in a series of prints on large-scale canvases kneeling in front of world famous buildings, seats of institutional power in Washington DC (the United States Capitol, known as the Capitol Building), London (Westminster Palace, known as the Houses of Parliament), Brussels (the new building of the European Parliament), Moscow (the palace of the State Duma) and Beijing (the palace of the Great Hall of the People). In contrast to his early performances, in which the artist appeared half naked (often dressed only in trousers) and barefoot, like contemporary dancers, or wearing white clothes as if in a uniform,[20]or more often in black like a prophet, like Savonarola in New York’s K9 Compassion), Zlatko Kopljar appeared before politicians in a white shirt and a black suit, looking like them: this made his spirit and powerful gesture stand in contrast all the more.               

The iconography of the clothes in which he wrapped his medium – his body –is important to keep in mind when considering those performances, videos and films in which the artist appears in a silver phosphorescent suit. The motif of light containing the power of revelation – “The true light that gives the light to everyone was coming into the world” (John 1:9) – came early in Zlatko Kopljar’s oeuvre, as well as chiaroscuro, which is to say that baroque structural use of the contrast between light and dark with all the connotations that entails.[21]However, after K12(2007), the video footage with the striking and convincing simulacrum of death, namely the hanging of the former subject), and the video performance K13in which the artist resurrects and bathes in, actually wears, divine light (splendor divinus) – and then goes on a nocturnal walk from the dense “mythological” forest to the totem of civilization, a tower in which light bulbs were tested and which has been continuously radiating light above Zagreb[22]– Kopljar was using the silver phosphorescent suit as his companion and medium. He was buried in it (in K16mentioned above, from 2012), he was wearing it in New York, now marked by the financial crisis (in the afore-mentioned K17, also from 2012), and then he returned wearing it to the idyllic forest and there – by the gurgling stream and idyllic water drops on soaked leaves – he lay on the ground like a weak firefly in dark night (K18from 2014).

Kopljar’s firefly as meta-modern subject “acknowledges that history’s purpose will never be fulfilled” not because “it does not exist”,[23]but because the slice of darkness is too large for the small light. However, to shine and to question, even himself (as the artist said, paraphrasing Paul Thek, “Isn’t it an artist’s task to constantly give up the art?”[24]), are attributes of this exceptional artistic personality of Zlatko Kopljar and his works of art, in the global sphere as well as the local one.           

[1]Nataša Lah, “Instalacija K 19 Zlatka Kopljara – upis etičkog koncepta u prostor” [Installation K 19 by Zlatko Kopljar – Inscription of an Ethical Concept in Space], Ars Adriatica4(2014.): 399-408. See also, the letter by Ory Dessau to the artist concerning K19 at, and Žarko Paić’s survey published in the catalogue, K19 Zlatko Kopljar(Zagreb: SNV, 2014).

[2]Entitling the work with abbreviation for “construction” started with K1(1997), performance with deaf and blind person using sign language, in the Student Centre gallery in Zagreb. 

[3]Miško Šuvaković, Mapiranje tijela tijelom – Mapping of the Body/ With the Body(Zagreb: Meandar, 2005): 118-121.

[4]L’Arte de cenni, con la quale formandosi favella visibile, si tratta della muta eloquenza, cue non altro che un facondo silentio, divisa in due partiNella prima si tratta de i cenni, che da noi le membra del nostro corpo sono fatti, scoprendo la loro significatione, e quella con l’autorità di famosi Autori confirmando. Nella seconda si dimostra come di questa cognitione tutte l’arti liberali, e mecaniche si preuagliano. Materia nuova à utti gli huomini pertinente, e massimamente à Prencipi, che, per loro dignità, più con cenni, che con parole si sanno intendere. DI GIOVANNI BONIFACCIO Giureconsulo, & Assessore. L’OPPORTVNO ACADEMICO FILARMONICO. IN VICENZA, MDCXVI. Apresso Francesco Grossi, [1616].

[5]Bonifaccio’s source for the syntagm of ancient roots was Torquato Tasso (Jerusalem Delivered, IV, 85).  

[6]“È anco il sedere atto di stabile fermezza […]”, Bonifaccio, 1616: 453.

[7]Bonifaccio, 1616: 454. 

[8]Il tener le mani abbassate è segno d’humiltà d’esser vinto, & di non voler adoperare più le mani, nè far difesa, ò resistenza.” Bonifaccio, 1616: 288.

[9]“Questo è atto di sottrarsi dalla servitù, per rimettersi in libertà […]” Bonifaccio, 1616: 253. 

[10]Giovanni Bonifaccio included many verses by numerous poets in his tractate, and he mentioned many painters too, for example the Mannerist painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo (Milan, 1527-1593); Bonifaccio, 1616: 553. In his films, videos and performances Zlatko also use poetry (Allen Ginsberg, Miloš Đurđević) and the associations are legion, so much so that the images of the artist’s works are presented some poetry books. 

[11]“Aujourd’hui l’abstraction n’est plus celle de la carte, du double, du miroir ou du concept. La simulation n’est plus celle d’un territoire, d’un être référentiel, d’une substance. Elle est la génération par les modèles d’un réel sans origine ni réalité: un hyperréel. Le territoire ne précède plus la carte, ni ne lui survit.” Jean Baudrillard, Simulacres et simulation(Paris: Galilée, 1981), 10. [“Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it”. Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor, Mi: The University of Michigan Press, 1994; first published 1981), 1.]

[12]Raoul Eshelman, Performatism, or the End of Postmodernism (Aurora, Colorado:The Davies Group Publishers, 2008), 2.

[13]Partial list of materials and tools used by Zlatko Kopljar already indicate this energy: blood, water, high voltage electricity, inox steel, casted aluminum and silver plated bronze, glass and crystal, bricks, concrete, honey, feathers, motor oil, hammer, sledgehammer, pickaxe, shovel, rifle M.48 7.9 mm, drill.     

[14]Johannes Rauchenberger, “Zlatko Kopljar, Reliquary”, in Katrin Bucher Trantow, Johannes Rauchenberger, Barbara Steiner, Faith Love Hope(Graz: Universalmuseum Joanneum, 2018.), 36.

[15]“Seemingly afflicted with Stendhal Syndrome, Croatian photographer Zlatko Kopljar presented images of himself as an uncertain pilgrim in the midst of cultural icons, suited and respectfully kneeling before the Guggenheim Museum, the New York Sock Exchange and Manhattan’s Chinatown.” Edward Leffingwell, “Report from Sao Paolo: The Extraterritorial Zone”, Art in America(February 2005),49-55 (53, 55).

[16]Published in the catalogue for exhibition in Osijek (2007) and republished as introduction chapter, under the title “Iconology and ideology: Towards a theory of the image in contemporary art”, in Krešimir Purgar, Preživjeti sliku: Ogledi iz vizualnih studija(Zagreb: Meandarmedija/Meandar, 2010), 13-22 (21).  

[17]Concerning the powers of persuasion and rhetoric of the Baroque, Luc Tuymans in the catalogue said: “To the question whether I agree with Argan’s notion of the Baroque and its aspiration to persuade in terms of the methodology between art and rhetoric, I agree to a certain extent and therefore also with the underlying idea of violence as offering a structure and methodology to create an impact in a visual. In how far this is rhetorical remains to be seen.” Luc Tuymans, Sanguine: Luc Tuymans on Baroque(Milano: Fondazione Prada, 2018.), 15.  

[18]In the site-specific urban intervention Sram/Shame(1995) Kopljar used huge rolls of cigarette paper to cover the very significant Baroque site in Dubrovnik, the skalinada(steps) leading to the Jesuit church and college, designed by Roman architect Pietro Passatacqua in 1740s. With this intervention the artist provided white liturgical (Eastern, sacramental) light and enlivened the old town’s atmosphere using set props.

[19]“Piegar le ginocchia, e star ginocchione. […] è atto […] di riverenza, e d’honore, dando segno di voler similmente humiliar l’animo a colui, al quale si fà questo gesto, e d’essere inferiore, e suddito. […] Aristotele scrive che quelli che sono genu flexibiles hanno indito d’esser cinedi. Homero finse che le Preghiere fossero femine zoppe, onde fù introdotto di pregare con le gambe piegate ginocchione, che’accenna animo dubbioso, per non saper se le preghiere saranno essaudite.” Bonifaccio, 1616.: 403, 405. 

[20]He was wearing white clothes, for example, in the performance Dove sarrei arrivato se fossi stato inteligente, Ubi Ego?(Where would I have got to if I had been intelligent? Where am I?; 1994), in which he is sitting at a hospital table and writing messages on a piece of paper, and then presses them into the gallery’s wall, in hommage to Josef Beuys and his project with the same title (1970-1972).

[21]In addition to above-mentioned art intervention Sram / Shame(1994) in Dubrovnik, in which the strong glow of the cover/paper on the steps obtained full meaning during the night, Kopljar introduced the opposition of darkness (in the gallery) and light (the focus was on a deaf and mute person) in K1(1997).

[22]See Johannes Rauchenberger, Sandra Križić Roban, Miško Šuvaković, Light Tower(Zagreb: Muzej suvremene umjetnosti; Graz: Kulturzentrum bei den Minoriten, 2009).        

[23]“history’s purpose will never be fulfilled because it does not exist”, Timotheus Vermeulen, Robin Van Den Akker, “Notes on metamodernism”, Journal of Aesthetics & Culture2 (2010), p.[5].

[24]A part of Thek’s reply – never sent – to the crushing critique of Robert Pincus-Witten published late 1960s in Artforumoriginally said: “Isn’t [sic] it an artists [sic] job to constantly say god-bye [sic] to art?” Susanne Neubauer, “Paul Thek: Between Art Criticism, ‘Silent’ Revolt and the Question of Failure”,Konsthistorisk Tidskrift/Journal of Art History 86/4 (2017), 297-314.