A few e-mails on Mladen Stilinovic

by elif gül tirben

Mladen Stilinovic

Merve Ünsal, İpek Kuran, m-est, May 9, 2011

Below is an e-mail dialogue between İpek and myself. Why Mladen Stilinovic? Why publish it now? I think the answer is hidden somewhere between a rapidly developing art world, what it means to produce work in 2011 and the visceral experience of the political, the aesthetic and the human in an object as simple as a handmade book. But, I’m not quite sure.
Merve Ünsal

Dear Merve,

Last summer, I got a chance to see Mladen Stilinovic’s artist’s books at the e-flux project space. When I saw the exhibition, I already knew he was an Eastern European artist who produced during a time of war, conflict and strong political divide between, what in the 20th century might have been appropriately called, the East and the West. During a talk at Cooper Union, I saw the way he talked about being an artist at that certain time and place and the struggles he faced in representation, exhibition and recognition. This is precisely why I consider myself a partial viewer.

I read Stilinovic’s discussion of the color red in one of his books that was exhibited at e-flux and the need to de-symbolize it; I could generalize his arguments to re-evaluate the role all prior knowledge in reading and interpreting a work of art.

Stilinovic argues that we should erase our knowledge of all symbols to read a painting correctly. He specifically focuses on red as the sacred symbol of communism and mixes it with white to produce pink, transforming red to be only a color. If I did not know anything about Stilinovic’s sociological and geographical background, my perception or reading of his books would be conflicted; I would be

“A few e-mails on Mladen Stilinovic” continues here

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