Una Popović, Man standing in a Museum looking at something

“If, in the entire world, we are part of one artistic synthesis, everything is architecture, plastics, painting, including the observer as a motor-plastic and psychological element.” These are the words of Vjenceslav Richter. It was against the background of these principles that his ‘synthurbanist’ vision took shape, a vision in which modern man’s working and living space would be shaped by combination of requirements relating to life, work and aesthetics.  Architecture, particularly the ziggurat project which Richter joined, bore within itself the progressive idea of a new, utilitarian space for the new man. The idea of synthurbanist building was meant to proclaim and represent the arrival of a new sensibility, worthy of a space in which everything necessary would find its place, move, rest and live.

Fascinated primarily by the design and appearance of multifunctional ziggurats, Marko Tadić delves into in spatial research regarding this progressive urbanist idea. However, rather than conducting a general investigation into new architectural thought, its functionality and role, he attempts to shape and thus examine an experiment in looking at (physically and visually fixing in space) a massive, incalculable structure. Man (standing in a museum looking at something) actually refers to the observer in the opening sentence, who in this case might be us in a gallery, looking at and exploring an exhibition offered as a sort of synthurbanist vision, a complex, materialised, visual performance. Forming a specific set-up, consisting of projections of grattages on which large public buildings, extensive panels and tables are depicted, with a series of smaller objects, possible models of the potential exteriors, Tadić in fact constructs a spatial narrative. Each individual element can be read as a subtle marker in the process of transformation and exchange, and affects the observer by opening up a new field of perception and a sense of re(configuring) microspace and macrospace. The complex set-up before us of course also implies another perspective and dimension in experiencing the world observed – what Richter in fact strove for in creating monumental architectural-sculptural “variables”.

Visual representations are improvised from individual, hand-made, specially constructed elements, and at the same time, our attention is directly engaged in detecting the network of schemes, forms and their relations, conditioned by physical movement within or around a work, or rather a specific module within a larger unit. For the observer, the person standing inside the (imaginary) ziggurat, and also for us, the components at this exhibition allow unpredictable, multi-faceted positions of vision and body. Although a relatively solid structure has been formed in space from all the elements and schemes which compose it, it can be (de)stabilised by induced events, that is, our movements among the elements. In spatial and plastic terms, Tadić conceives and shapes various orders of synergy between surfaces and masses. He considers them within different physical limitations.

Certain elements are placed in relation to others, larger or smaller, and in interaction with the exhibition space, generating new viewing experiences for observers, and testing their potential. This is achieved primarily by a sort of interplay of mutual states – intersections, merges, overlaps – between the main elements of the compositional structure, or rather, the ‘actors’ in the intrigue which unfolds on the surface of one panel, as a micro-environment, and throughout the entire space, which can be defined as a three-dimensional image.

In the communication between the observer and the constructed units in the gallery, which is based more or less on coincidence, a space for dialogue opens up in the interlays. Just as with Richter’s synthurbanist visions, so in Tadić’s exhibition, the interspaces where the observer moves as a participant are perhaps crucial. In movement and communication between the observer and the whole, these interstices, interspaces and intervals are intensified. The interstices, with both Tadić and Richter, are layers in which exchanges between the observer and created units take place. A stable centre is sought in persistent movement outside the focus of the search.

Marko Tadić’s exhibition Man standing in a museum looking at something in the Richter Collection aims to present and formulate the construction of a major system (the exhibition itself appears to be a complex narrative and production unit), as an active collection of small links which lead to an exact approach in forming a stable structure. By producing spatial micro and macro “games”, Tadić attempts to create a concrete system within spontaneous, momentarily improvised action. His moments of building minor mises-en-scene are in fact formally identical to Richter’s systemic, plastic research. Each form produced belongs to its own closed system, but the relations it forms with other elements represent just some of the innumerable possibilities within the overall exhibition solution. An apparently closed system within a form, for both authors, allows for variations and resolutions in the sense of seeking and perceiving additional meanings of the various relations within the same system. However, obviously, but not unworthy of mention, the two authors differ precisely in their artistic approaches, and actually different productions within their artistic practice. Richter always posited the ideal, technically absolutely controlled organisation of form. As an avid proponent of rationalism and technical skills, he advocated the total absence of errors, thus arguing indirectly the abolition of the principal of the uniqueness, unrepeatability, and spontaneity of the one-off. With Tadić, unrepeatability and spontaneity fall within the working focus. He does not start, like Richter, from abstract number games, but from a specific place on a piece of paper, or an old postcard or photograph he has happened upon, from where and around which he spins various imagined events. We might characterise this as a kind of deliberate wandering, which at the end of the day gains the status of something spontaneously organised. But for both authors, striving for synthesis is characteristic. They both define the principle of synthesis as one which allows relations noted in microspace, created within plastic or paper objects, at least ideally, to be transferred to the macrospace of the city as an organism to which the authors also direct their considerations. Richter approaches the macrospace of the city as a complex, pulsating organism within the concept and theory of synthurbanism, while Tadić approaches it within the exploration of form and the phenomenon of space as an area of permanent redefining and discovery.

Una Popović, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade