exhibition concept and set up: Leonida Kovač, PhD, Željko Kipke
The exhibition Prints, Gramophones and Tonsures shows less known and almost unknown works by Željko Kipke. This especially applies to prints from 1977, which had not been publicly displayed until the exhibition Tabula rasa at HAZU Glyptotheque in the summer of 2013. It comprised only four prints, while the entire series of about thirty sheets was shown by the end of 2014 at the Graphic Collective Gallery in Belgrade.
The exhibition was, among other factors, motivated by the intention to introduce the Croatian visual art public to rare early examples of elementary and primary procedures in the graphic techniques of drypoint, intaglio, lithograph, and silkscreen.
The HAZU Glyptotheque display is not focused only on unknown prints, but expands its graphic art context to other areas of visual art explorations by the same author – ambience installations titled Prayer Machine Chambers from the early nineties and a series of film twins containing a similar (graphic) impulse.
Two film documents are a good example – about outlining the shape of the cross by shaving a portion of the artist’s head by the beginning of the 80s and 30 years later also of the letter N (for nihilism). In the Chambers, during the 90s one could see record players with revolving painted vinyl records. Black walls often featured signboards with unusual messages in French, Croatian or English: Don’t Hesitate, Do Not Swallow Your Saliva, Beware of Dogs, Dead End etc. The author says that these rooms had a function similar to Tibetan prayer wheels, following the European Wunderkammer tradition, as a polygon of an encompassing concentration of knowledge and figures of speech.
In the introductory text to the catalog, Leonida Kovač directs these links at Marcel Duchamp and Alfred Jarry, »the founder of pataphysics who used to endlessly ride a bike through the streets of Paris«. In this way she linked the chambers to record players and an earlier Kipke’s film, Black Blacker than Black, in which the impression of levitation was generated by the cameraman’s circling on the bike around the place of the event. In his one hand he had a camera, in the other the handlebar, and in the middle was the author laying on a freshly painted symbol of crossed rhomboids. All that was filmed at Zagreb’s Otokar Keršovani Square on Easter Day of the long-gone year 1985. The Chambers were thus the consequence of the author’s pronounced inclination to print, written messages, and complex symbols in the capacity of »time machines«. (Kipke frequently mentions Ramon Llull, a Catalan mystic from the 13th century, who is a major name in the historical line of calculus machines before today’s computers.) At the exhibition we can also see early objects from the Prayer Machine Chambers, constructed before the rotating vinyl records and messages on aluminum boards – a chair with a rotating seat, a wooden wheel rotating on a bicycle axis, an early ready-made board, and an indicative painting from 1982 that clearly heralds the author’s obsession with circular shapes, record players, and films.