K13 / 2009

Full HD video / 13ʼ22″/ sound / color


In Kopljar’s latest “construction”, K13, which will for the first time be shown at the Styria Autumn in the Minorite Gallery Graz and then at the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, this LIGHT TOWER becomes the place of an unconditional scene. It is again the forest that heralds the beginning of this transformation, but we do not see the

protagonist either hanged or hugging the sphere; as a glittering light figure in a sophisticated suit he goes through the dark forest upwards, even disregarding the sphere that he fondled in K12; now it lies on the ground like a fallen full moon.

Illuminations of medieval images showing the Creation irresistibly and timelessly picture the scene in which the world mutates into a small sphere with a large figure leaning over it. In the image memory of photography that in a seemingly faithful way depicts actual reality, the pictures of the rising Earth, shot exactly 40 years ago before the landing on the moon, have caused metaphysical shivers that juxtaposed the dimension of what is attainable to man to the vastness of the universe and the blackness of the sky as seen from the Moon. No matter if in K13 appears a thoroughly designed wearer of a light suit, a (literally translated) Lucifer, a Prometheus, a saved light figure that comes to the origin of its suit’s ability of illumination, or simply a salesman of lighting fixtures, at the end the often compromised metaphor – especially at the time of a glittering business – takes a victory.

Entering this industrial building from the 50s makes the mysterious interior of it visible: bulbs, bulbs, bulbs; spider web, iron doors, bulbs, bulbs, bulbs. Forty metres high, but only four metres narrow is this surrealistic structure that served as a test station for light bulbs – almost a museum item, because production has been transferred to China a long time ago. Now it has been 20 years from the definitive end of the secular Utopia of the 20th century, which at its beginnings for many presented the only alternative to capitalism of the 19th century and sacralized forms of government. It is the fine irony of ruling that it is the filament light bulb that at the beginning of the 21st century is turng into a symbol of a changing attitude to our resources, which does not have an impact only on the alleged technocrats from Brussels, but also on the deregulated market in the globalized trade: where do we actually get the light, not only for the illumination of thoughts, but above all for reaching a collective agreement on how we should proceed?

In the actually existing light bulb test station on the access road to Zagreb, which enables the socialist past of this city to charmingly participate in great light concepts of mankind, we become participants of an endless gaze of the light figure that has entered this space. The fascination of glaring bulbs – how much electricity is necessary for that? – is transformed into a gaze of absolute orientation. Walking past the bulbs on ten storeys mutates from aesthetic networking of a sensorily perceptive energy to implementation of a collective awareness of a literally enlightening ethics: enlightened insight enables responsible actions. “YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE CITY”.

“I believe”, says Zlatko Kopljar, “that with K13 I can establish a deeper connection between imagination and reality. I want to open a new field of truly common values. I would like this tower to become a house of light for this city in near future, a meeting and exchange place for the citizens of Zagreb. In this work I would like to link two concepts that normally get confused by city-planners, politicians, and project developers: the city as a theatre of collective awareness and the city as a theatre of collective, real events.”10 The civitas terrena of Zagreb is juxtaposed to a visionary event city of the artist: he means neither the old city centres of a European city, nor the churches with their sacred objects or apparition potential, also not shopping malls that will have an increasing impact on Zagreb, but a place of myth generation, of a real event, in complete opposition to the event location.

Kopljar is not leaving the question “What should we do?” in the symbolic form of delay, transcendence or plain satisfaction of urges and needs. His compromised and often misused metaphor draws the irresistible evidence of power that paralyses negativity. Considering climate changes it is a contemporary contribution to privatisation of a secularized necessity that Edison’s light bulb is being banned in the course of these months: energy relaunched so to say, and not at the expense of others, please. Also the origin of light must be thought of in mythical terms. Economy must necessarily experience a defeat there and even the relocation of the bulb production to China will not help in that matter. Light is, as Hans Blumenberg said in a memorable formulation, an absolute metaphor, insoluble in the world of notions11, which can though assume the form of aesthetic experience. Insofar is light a metaphor of truth.12 There, Zlatko Kopljar walks through the storeys of the light tower. Finally, for his unconditional demands at the time beyond all deconstruction, we can ascribe entirely Dantesque motives to him. However, Dante’s gaze towards Heaven and his view of Hell had primarily an appellative character, despite all scaremongers and negativists. The issue at hand is now and today. And the urgency, as Kopljar’s constructions show us, but also the history of the light bulb, does not subside.

A relaxed approach after all: in his time Dante simply came back from his walks through Heaven and Hell. As Zlatko Kopljar comes out of the TEŽ-tower that we can see glowing even from the helicopter perspective, his light bulb adventure ends. And so it does for us. The light figure is now simply gone.

But because exhibitions have the additional quality of being corporeal and real, subject to haptic and sensory experience, we can formulate a solace: the suit can be seen in reality. And it glows. This relic cannot be obtained even at the contemporary market: We have been embraced by light.