A video by Camilla Topuntoli (08:30) documenting Lab Fight-Specific Isola, a project made for the exhibition 1:1 STOPOVER at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (+MSUM) in Ljubljana, in Slovenia.

17 October 2013 – 12 January 2014.

Isola Art Center presents
Lab Fight-Specific Isola

curated by Camilla Pin and Bert Theis
with Antonio Brizioli, Tania Bruguera, Angelo Castucci, Edna Gee, Grupo Etcetera, Maddalena Fragnito, out-Office for Urban Transformation, Maria Papadimitriou, Dan Perjovschi, Steve Piccolo, Camilla Pin, Edith Poirier, Christoph Schäfer, Mariette Schiltz, Sašo Sedlaček, Bert Theis, Camilla Topuntoli, Nikola Uzunovski, Daniele Rossi, Wei-Ning Yang and others.

“The rigid, isolated object (work, novel, book) is of no use whatsoever. It must be inserted into the context of living social relations. Walter Benjamin, The Artist as Producer (1)

Isola Art Center is an open platform of experimentation for contemporary art that has developed in the Isola neighborhood in Milan, Italy. Grappling for over one decade with an urban situation crossed by conflicts and widespread transformations, the project remains “no-budget”, precarious and ultralocal.

Abolishing any vertical logic of labor, the process of Isola Art Center engages Italian and international artists, critics and curators, art collectives, activists, architects, researchers, students and associations of neighborhood residents. The Isola neighborhood has been undergoing processes of gentrification for some time, with policies of capitalist territorialization that directly undermine the social character of the zone itself, which is being increasingly privatized and deprived of shared, collective spaces, threatening fundamental rights of urban existence. Isola Art Center operates with an instituent (2) practice that implements escape routes from the neo-liberal logic of financial and real estate speculation, working with art as a disruptive tool of revelation and exposure.

Lab Fight-Specific Isola in Ljubljana is a workshop that operates with elements from the 13 years of history and the present praxis of Isola Art Center, which are presented in 1:1 format.

The workshop is structured around three types of components: situations, publications and materializations. The situations we propose are collective works where artists and curators intervene in a horizontal way. A screen printing workshop, several wall paintings, moments of gathering, the flight of the Isola Sun-Cloud produced to create a new horizon against real estate speculation at Isola, and finally the presentation of the book “Fight-Specific Isola” which narrates the neighborhood struggle. The publications shown in the space, besides the Fight-Specific Isola book, include prototypes produced by different artists, while the materializations are fight-specific works created in the context of the Isola neighborhood.
With the workshop at the MSUM of Ljubljana, Isola Art Center sets out to share the specific terminologies and concepts developed during years of struggle, in the conviction that they can be useful as weapons in other conflicts or urban mobilizations. In particular, the idea of operating in a dirty cube, rejecting the distorting “beautification” of the occupied building; the encoding of a fight-specific art, able to take concrete forms depending on local necessities; and the notion of the dispersed center, which makes it possible to think of the art center not as a physical space, but as an attitude of the mind and body.

With Lab Fight-Specific Isola we want to trigger imaginaries of urban practices, calling forth another unconscious and the desire for other forms of relation.

www.isolartcenter.org / tel: 0039 339 6057 111 / facebook Isola Art Center

17 October 2013 – 12 January 2014
Exhibition curated by Zdenka Badovinac

Opening: Thursday, 17 October, 20.00h
Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova
Ljubljana, Slovenia

1) Understanding Brecht, New Left Books, London 1973, p. 87.
2) Gerald Raunig sees the instituent practice not as an action against the institution, but as a flight from institutionalization and structuring. If the term institution suggests a static quality, the idea is to replace that static nature with the organization of a dynamic praxis.
See Instituent Practices, No. 2. Institutional Critique, Constituent Power, and the Persistence of Instituting, January 2007, available at www.eipcp.net/transversal.

Not interested in showcasing art, 1:1 would be better called a stopover for art than an exhibition, since 1:1 art can never be wholly contained in the time frame of an event.
The focus of the 1:1 stopover is the relationship between art and life, and art and institution. When on a scale of 1:1, art not only describes life, it is one with it. This relation can be disrupted by the institution, which is often thought to divorce art from life. Not so, however, when the institution itself tries to establish a similar one-to-one relationship with art by no longer merely representing it, but instead treating it as a partner.
One of the major issues addressed by the 1:1 stopover is the relation between the event providing the framework for the presentation of art and the duration of the art. Because, 1:1 art can last months, years, even decades. 1:1 art follows the rhythm of life, finding realization in various moments and forms of its existence that not even the artists can always fully control. 1:1 art has a past, a present, a future, and sometimes also an end, a death (when the artist deliberately destroys his or her work). It is never a wholly finalized product, and this makes 1:1 only a moment in the duration of 1:1 art. When an institution acknowledges its own inability to represent the complex temporality of 1:1 art in all of its life forms, it can only offer a place where such art can become a public good, a place where its various users can come together. This point of connection is the place of common interests, where the roles of curator, artist, and audience are often swapped or overlap.
1:1 art refers to more than just art objects; above all, it refers to points of convergence of collective ideas and desires, of various vocations and various narratives. Conversely, everything produced on some scale other than 1:1 designs life, basically subjugating it. 1:1 art determines needs at the grass roots level, in direct contact with people and their ways of organizing, of uncovering the shortcomings and manipulations of planning. It can itself be a plan or potential for change, a corrective to the conditions of organizing and conceiving.
1:1 art proposes conditions that do not involve anyone representing anyone, conditions under which interpretations and translations result from actual, concrete collaborations. It combines theory and practice, art and science and technology, experts and knowledge from below, in order to impact specific socio-political circumstances and help improve future conditions. Such art acts connectively in society, devising alternative models of cultural and knowledge production, violating the existing economy of time and formal identity of citizenry, and even conceiving of human creativity beyond our planet. It advocates fairness in conditions of work and self-organizing at the level of local communities, and invents ways of trading in work and time that do not produce surplus value. Artists working on a scale of 1:1 build artist institutions, artist banks, even artist states. Or they fix the mistakes in, and stimulate the functioning of, the museum where they are exhibiting. They also think about a new art institution by observing the old one from a meta-position, as if as an antiquity, as though they were seeing it from the vantage point of the future.
By virtue of duration, 1:1 artworks avoid being wholly contained by the institution and resist the postindustrial dictate of constant change and quick adaptation. They oppose the culture of forever new events replacing one another as well as the kind of institution that presents temporariness as flexibility, failing to see that it has thus lost its own duration, its own time. 1:1 art is a glitch in the system of provisional states that result in instability and increasingly anxiety-ridden individuals with no free time and a low quality of life. Lasting and enduring, 1:1 art gives back their time to life and the institution.
1:1 forms part of the Three Orders of Time event organized by Maska between 15 and 19 October 2013 to celebrate its 20th anniversary (www.maska.si). Reconsidering the modes of contemporary art production, the event focuses on three periods: the early 1990s and the emergence of private initiative in artistic production (private institutes as the prevalent contemporary model of production in art); the present (art production that transcends the limitations of the project-logic); and the future (1:1 also includes the Archive-Reminder of the Arteast 2000+23 project, organized jointly by Moderna galerija and Maska in 2006 and presenting work-proposals by 50 artists for the Moderna galerija collection to be exhibited in 2023).
Zdenka Badovinac