Dora García and Mao Mollona, Production and reproduction – artists at work. Love Labour Art Work
Dora García i Mao Mollona, Produkcija i reprodukcija – umjetnici na radu. Ljubav rad umjetnost, predavanje i promocija publikacije, DAZ, Zagreb, 2023. (foto: Damir Žižić)

Dora García, Mao Mollona

Društvo Arhitekata Zagreba / DAZ (Assosciation of Architects)
Trg bana Josipa Jelečića 3/1, Zagreb

Wednesday, 14/06/2023, 6 pm

The event is a “post-episode” of  the project My Sweet little lamb (Everything we see could also be otherwise, a series of exhibition episodes based on the Kontakt Collection  and dedicated to the artist Mladen Stilinović. A new publication on the project will be available on the occasion. 

“Artists of the world drop out; you have nothing to lose but your profession!”.  Echoing Marx and EngelsCommunist Manifesto, and its vision of revolutionary art as refusal of bourgeois modes of doing and living, in The Education of the Unartist (1993) Allan Kaprow tells young artists to drop art making and embrace life. The central quality of the unartist, according to Duchamp is their fluidity and “plasmasticity” that is, their ability to shapeshift and resist capture from the commodity form. For both Duchamp and Kaprow the unartist is a figure of resistance against speculative capitalism.

In the conversation/performance Dora García and Mao Mollona sketch a new unartist manifesto, reflecting on the political economy of our times. Following the feminist-Marxist critique of love, art and work as bourgeois constructs, García and Mollona’s manifesto focuses on the entanglement, contradictions, and erasures across the dimensions of production and reproduction, and propose a communist understanding of art, work and love, as autonomous and liberated spaces in which gestures and attachments go to reproduce life in commons.

García and Mollona’s conversation is in dialogue with the extraordinary work of Croatian conceptual artist Mladen Stilinović, which critically addresses the transition from socialism to capitalism in Yugoslavian society, through humorous performances and work, which unveiled the surreal quality of state bureaucracy and market ideology in the post-socialist transition.  

Yugoslavia’s forced incorporation into the global capitalist economy created much economic decline, social fragmentations, and ethnic tensions, leading to a traumatic conflict, whose consequences are still tangible. Stilinović’s reflection on the role of art in times of geopolitical transition is very timely. How are the relations we can establish between commons and art practice? How can we understand today concepts such as communism and comradeship in all fields, but specifically in art practice? What is the figure of the non-alienated un-artist or the non-alienated worker – do they look alike? If under capitalism love and work are forms of value extraction/production, could we imagine a different concept of work and love, as reproduction? How can we degrowth art, embracing a reproductive rather than productive framework – maintenance rather than use-value¹. How can we transition from a regime of productivity to a regime of creative laziness? Lastly, in In Praise of Laziness Stilinović seems to suggest the autonomy of Eastern European artists came from their ‘invisibility’ and lack of a  ‘developed’ market-driven system of private galleries. If this is true, what kind of institution of commons, neither public nor private, can foster solidarity autonomy and sustainability within the art world?

Dora García is an artist and teacher who lives and works in Oslo. She is currently professor at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Norway.  As an artist, Dora García has participated in numerous international art exhibitions, including Münster Sculpture Projects (2007), Venice Biennial (2011, 2013, 2015), Sydney Biennial (2008), São Paulo Biennial (2010), dOCUMENTA 13 (2012). Her work is largely performative and deals with issues related to community and individuality in contemporary society, exploring the political potential of marginal positions, paying homage to eccentric characters and antiheroes. These eccentric characters have often been the centre of her film projects, such as The Deviant Majority (2010), The Joycean Society (2013), Segunda Vez (2018), and the Amor Rojo trilogy, ongoing.

Massimiliano (Mao) Mollona is an anthropologist, writer and filmmaker based at the Department of the Arts (DAR) at the University of Bologna and specialising on economic and political anthropology and the anthropology of art. His projects focus on extractivism, class and labour struggles, militant cinema, and art/commons. He is one of the founding members of the Institute of Radical Imagination (IRI) and of the Laboratory for the Urban Commons (Athens).

The conversation/performance of Dora García and Mao Mollona takes place in conjunction with the project My Sweet little lamb (Everything we see could also be otherwise, a series of exhibition episodes based on the Kontakt Collection and dedicated to the artist Mladen Stilinović, unfolded in Zagreb and London in 2016–2017. It was curated by What, How & for Whom / WHW in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg and Emily Pethick in London.

Dora García and Mao Mollona´s conversation/performance is the “post-episode” of the project, at which the publication will be also available. This publication presents extensive visual documentation of the series of exhibitions alongside newly commissioned texts by theorists and writers Branislav Dimitrijević, Miguel A. López, Oxana Timofeeva, and Marina Vishmidt, as well as a conversation on exhibition making with curators Ekaterina Degot, Ana Janevski, Emily Pethick, and Marion von Osten. It was published by Sternberg press in 2023 and designed by Dejan Kršić.

Organized by Kontakt Collection and What, How and for Whom / WHW
Supported by Kontakt Collection, ERSTE Foundation and Erste Group Bank AG

¹the notion of useful art reproduces the capitalist sense of temporal urgency, its quantifying logics and protestant morality.