recent works

Cause for Alarm by Ivana Mance for the Uncomparables. Forming a Suspicious State


Ivana Mance

According to Lacan, anxiety is the lack of a lack. Where there is no lack, a cataclysmic loss takes over, and the symbolic order crumbles. In anxiety, therefore, the symbolic finds itself submerged by the Real, and the subject is not able to find symbolic identification in the Place which should provide it with social parameters, positioning and placing it within the socially visible range. Without this vital distancing – an invisible deviation from the symbolic law to which it necessarily responds, from its very name to family roles and professional tasks – the subject eventually resorts to forced, compulsive behavior. Tina Gverović and Siniša Ilić define their subject matter as a premonition of disaster – a state in which one is no longer able to make one’s position arbitrary in symbolic terms and feels inundated by the Real.

For some time now, their joint-project cycles of drawings have invoked forms of forced existence in an alienated labor society. They present us with commonplace scenes: workplaces – places of public action, rather – scenes one comes across daily. The people around us, ourselves: facing the interface, at home or in offices, in parliamentary arenas, public assemblies, in waiting rooms. All are places with many seats one must take and find one’s Place. (Whenever I enter an auditorium, I get perplexed: where should I sit? Up front, in the back, left or right, in the sidelines? Where shall I feel more comfortable? And once I have finally sat down, there seems to be a choice: should I listen to the lecture or stare out through the window? Should I participate or not? I am not happy with either. I feel anxious.)

What is it in those drawings that actually produces a feeling of anxiety? Content-wise, they depict ordinary situations and objects; while panic anxiety may well be their thematic point of reference, nowhere is it discernible as a single, rationally recognizable motif. The drawings are ineffably eerie insofar as they behave as tautologies of sorts, pointedly skeptical about the power of symbolic representation. Utterly bereft of any kind of esthetic gratification or wish to please, deliberately failing to provide a logical link or a narrative order between their unrelated motifs, they express a complete breakdown of will and lack of faith in the power of representation. Their purportedly obvious content merely coerces the eye: its compulsive gaze offers no clue as to what those repetitive scenes actually mean to depict. Tina’s and Siniša’s drawings are to be impotently stared at: unable to see the forest for the trees, one seeks and fails to find the necessary deviation from representation-in-progress, which might provide one with the rational distance one needs to be able to grasp the whole. Moreover, the two-dimensional space of the image is literally invalidated as a place of mimetic representation. The drawings are book-bound, and exhibitions invariably feature them as fragments of ambient units, effectively nullifying the perspectival and geometrical objectivation of their content. One gets drawn into a story without an ending, helplessly exposed to the Real, which pounces on one’s consciousness with unspeakable banality of motif and performance. Within a frame out of place or time, there is an unchecked sequence of silhouettes – faceless figures, impersonal individuals or groups of people, office fixtures and material, fragments of abstract organic forms or outside environment: tools of manual labor, even firearms. Siniša and Tina use minimalistic means to create an atmosphere of ubiquitous repetitiveness, a monotone repetition of the one and the same thing. Far from any extraordinarily cataclysmic scenes, anxiety springs from a compulsive and forced repetition of the same motives in inconsequential variation, following one after the other with no apparent intention or sense, in an utter negation of any parameters of spatial or temporal extensibility. Thus, a commonplace work environment is internalized as an obsessive vortex of trauma: work turns into a pathological, neurotic state of an obsessed and tormented psychic life, where one feels compelled to repeat the very same action which has been causing the unease. In a society capitalizing upon this very state of collective neurosis, there seems to be no alternative outcome. Tina’s and Siniša’s work sounds an alert with no calling off in sight – a fatally never-ending state of siege. (translation Vlatka Valentic)