Ory Dessau / 2019
In 2002 Zlatko Kopljar blocked the main entrance to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. He did so with a twelve-ton block of reinforced concrete, corresponding in size to the measurements of the building’s doorway. Titled K4(1998–2002), the action was part of the group exhibition Here Tomorrow, in which curator Roxana Marcoci offered an examination of the contemporary Croatian art scene seven years after the end of the war in former Yugoslavia. However, since it kept the museum closed and inaccessible, the protective concrete shield of Kopljar’s K4implied that even in 2002 the war was not over yet. By sealing its entrance Kopljar referred to the museum as if situated in a stage prior to demolition. He marked the museum’s building as a future ruin among already existing ruins. Likewise, Kopljar’s sealed entrance also suggested that the premises were being purged, purified of the near past sediments and ghosts of the war.
From an art-historical perspective, K4partially anchored Kopljar’s practice within the context of institutional critique, in affinity to artists such as Michael Asher and Hans Haacke, whose work exposed the underlying foundations on which the museum, the institutional space of art, was culturally established as an immaterial, timeless, transparent domain of intrinsic aesthetic values. In K4, Kopljar defamiliarized the museum. He grounded it in a material reality, turning it from an ideal spatiality into a physical, modifiable entity. As a result, the museum became an accentuation of a threshold, an open passage between inside and outside, between aesthetics and politics, art and life. Paradoxically, rather than a strict dividing line, Kopljar’s blockade served as a bi-directional conductor, reconnecting the museum to its surroundings, rendering it permeable.
Kopljar’s version of institutional critique is neither deconstructive nor politically programmatic; it is personal and poetic. Kopljar is not an artist who tackles ‘the ideology of the white cube.’ His critique of the museum as a conventional cultural construct is in fact a means to reflect on his status as an artist. WithK4Kopljar focuses on his split identity as both an insider and outsider caught between processes of inclusion and exclusion. At the same time, his action can also be regarded as a symbolic, yet aggressive gesture of appropriation, by ways of which Kopljar claimed the museum, making it his own when controlling the entrance to the building.Read More “History, architecture, performance: On Zlatko Kopljar’s body of work”