Critics’ Picks

Jasmina Cibic, The Pavilion, 2015, HD video, color, sound, 6 minutes 43 seconds.

Istanbul

Jasmina Cibic

Acikekran Yeni Medya Sanatları Galerisi
Teşvikiye Cad. Karaosmanoğlu Apt. No: 37/1
September 12 - November 18

Jasmina Cibic’s work resembles a private eye’s attempt to re-create a crime scene in order to arrive at its punctum—a tell-all feature that pricks in the Barthesian fashion. To this end, she does not actually blend fact and fiction but instead transposes historically and formally related realities.

In the video The Pavilion, 2015, performers restage Dragiša Brašovan’s razzle-dazzle Yugoslavian pavilion from the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition with scaled modular blocks, taking cues from the site plan and the few extant archival photographs of the grand undertaking. For the interior, however, Adolf Loos’s unrealized proposition for Josephine Baker’s Parisian residence (the facade of which would have been, like the pavilion, covered with equally spaced stripes) serves as inspiration. In the video NADA: Act II, 2017, Cibic turns to the appropriation of Béla Bartók’s 1926 pantomime ballet, The Miraculous Mandarin, for the representation of Yugoslavia at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair; though, she does so with a new take on the dance at the aptly midcentury, Arne Jacobsen–designed Aarhus City Hall.

The building is more than a backdrop for the transformation of Bartók’s prostitute—the protagonist—and three pimps into the roles of Mother Nation and politicians: As the gang of three endows the main character with geometric attributes and gets her to wave monochrome flags, the parquet, striped curtains, and wooden and brass details of the setting foster an atmosphere that is benign and even dreamlike. But with the appearance of the stilted, mysterious Mandarin—another character from the ballet, turned into the Architect for Cibic’s scenario—the generously scaled spaces are pared down to nooks and passageways with constricting functionalist proportions. Menaced by the same politicians, the Architect meets his fateful end at a magnificent spiral staircase supported by a single row of pillars, asking, just like Tino Sehgal, if this is what progress is.