Irena Lagator Pejović was born in Cetinje, Montenegro, in 1976 where she lives and works.
Selected group shows: “the sea is my land – Artisti dal Mediterraneo” 2013, MAXXI, Rome, Italy. Curated by Francesco Bonami and Emanuela Mazzonis (forthcoming); “Spring Exhibition” 2013, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; “Subjective Maps/Disappearances”, National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavik; “Untitled (History)” 2011, 12th Istanbul International Biennial; “Orte/Nicht-Orte” 2010, Salzburger Kunstverein; “Love it or Leave it” 2004, 5th Cetinje international biennial of contemporary art, Montenegro.
Solo exhibitions, projects (selection): “Società a responsabilità limitata (S. r. l.)” 2012, Villa Pacchiani, Santa Croce sull’Arno (Pisa). Curated by Ilaria Mariotti; “The Society of Unlimited Responsibility”, 2012. Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, Serbia. Curated by Dejan Sretenović and Una Popović; “Sfere” 2010, Irena Lagator & Wendelin Pressl. IG Bildende Kunst, Vienna; “What We Call Real” 2008, Atelier DADO-gallery for contemporary art, National Museum of Montenegro, Cetinje; “Is it Still Winter Outside?” 2007, Museum of Contemporary Art, Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina; “Living Room” 2006, Art Pavilion, Podgorica, Montenegro. “Please Wait Here” 2006, Abbazia di San Zeno, Pisa (in collaboration with Fondazione TESECO per l´Arte).
Awards: Transforming Memory. The Politics of Images, 24th Nadežda Petrović Memorial, Čačak, Serbia, 2007; Reconstruction, 4th Cetinje international biennial, Montenegro, UNESCO visual arts prize, 2002.
Grants: Artist-in-residence 2005–2006, Neue Galerie, Graz; Modelmania, with Olafur Eliasson and Yona Friedman, ArtExperience Domus Academy, Venice, 2005.
Irena Lagator Pejović represents the Montenegrin Pavilion at the upcoming Venice Biennial (June 1st – Nov. 24th, 2013)
Montenegrin Pavilion: curator Nataša Nikčević; Vernissage, May 30th, 2013, 6:30 pm, Palazzo Malipiero, San Marco 3078-3079/A, Ramo Malipiero, Venice. Opening speech by Bazon Brock, artist and Professor of Aesthetics and Cultural Education at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal. During this conversation held via Skype on May 23rd, Irena Lagator Pejović talks about the project titled Image Think that she will be showing in Venice.
Engaging the spectator
The exhibition will present a selection of four works: Further than Beyond, Image Think, Ecce Mundi, and the last one, Camera Imaginata. The Means for Exchanging the Power of the Imagination, which is an artistic intervention in the catalogue of the exhibition.
These spaces inside spaces exist in order to translate seeing into thinking, sensory experience into sense, and absence into presence, questioning our personal and collective responsibilities in relation to the creation of images nowadays.
The first three works are special installations presented in three connected rooms: gold, black and white room.
The Golden Room
The first work is a spatial light installation entitled Further than Beyond. This work is made out of very thin golden cotton threads, i.e. an innumerable quantity of horizontally tensed lines that relate to string theory in science, to non Euclidean geometry, and to the theory of parallels. These two geometrical volumes tensed between the two walls are illuminated by two light sources placed above the work. The intention of this installation is to actively engage the spectator into the work. Depending on the place where the visitor is standing and observing the work, he or she will notice a certain optical phenomena that makes the work visually disappearing, questioning the relation between material and immaterial, content and form, the issue of value as such. As per the intensity of the light source, you can perceive the golden aspect of the material but at the same time you witness the visual disappearance of the body of the work evoking Derridean deconstruction theory. At the same time it is questioning the notion or the issue of the process of valuing things nowadays in the so-called globalized world.
The Black Box
Leaving this room, we enter the second room; a “black box” entitled Image Think that gives title to the Montenegrin pavilion. The visitor enters a completely darkened setting, without apparently noticing any light. But depending on the visitor’s movement and the time he or she is spending inside this work, his or her eyes will start to adapt to the new light situation and he or she will start to perceive thousands of light sources coming from the very thin holes of the perforated polyethylene out of which this artificial Universe, this “black box”, is constructed. Suddenly the visitor starts to perceive that he or she is walking onto a floor made out of framed mirrors. The changing image is reflected in the floor and thus altered by the presence of the visitor.
This title communicates a certain language game: consisting of the word “image” and of the infinitive form of the verb “to think”, I’m keen to propose a question “what is prior to imaging or what is prior to thinking. Is thinking more important than imaging or is imaging nowadays more important than thinking.” From the other hand, it is a certain reference to the research of Orwell in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. In particular it refers to the power of mental images that can survive the deformation of language and any kind of totalitarian regime. How can the power of an individual, his imagination and his responsible critic of the society, survive the language degeneracy and the totalitarian power over the society?
The White Cube
Exiting from the “black box” the visitor is offered another contradictory opportunity. He now enters a “white cube” called Ecce Mundi, but the eyes are still accustomed to the reduced light of the previously visited “black box”. This is why, when you enter this white room, you perceived it as an empty space. But the more you stay inside the space and, after a closer inspection, you notice that it is not an empty space but that it is actually constructed out of hand-drawn canvases which are spreading over the walls, floor and ceiling. Here the multitude, the thousands and uncountable number of minuscule human-like pictograms are rotating around their own vertical positions in the space. With these drawings, I wanted to underline the question of whether a society of peaceful co-existence is possible. The dramaturgy of the human presence is what is revealed inside this space. The visitors are walking over the drawings, the paintings, and they seem like walking over other people. But it is up to the choice and responsibility of each visitor to decide whether to step in and walk through the work to continue its consumption. At the end of the exhibition, these paintings will be bearer of our passages, of our traces, of our consumption of the work of art, or, in other words, of our consumption of society. The thesis of this white cubed peace is weather peaceful worlds are achievable, have we ever achieved them or do we have intention to achieve them, or eventually, have we already constructed peaceful worlds, questioning what kind of consequences are we leaving with our presence in the world.
Exiting from the pavilion, one can find the fourth work in the catalogue of this exhibition. This work is called Camera Imaginata. The Means for Exchanging the Power of the Imagination, and it is a simple drawing presented in one of the pages of the catalogue. The visitor is supposed to cut this page and construct a white cube by him or herself. This white cube is rotating imagining into words. The interior sheets or walls of this cube are containing suggestions for the visitors, like “create love”, “feel the presence”, “multiply time”, “recall imagination”, and so on. So if we decide to construct this object – our own Camera Imaginata – the instructions and the suggestions for visitors are remaining in the space of our individual memory.
It is important to say few fords about the conception of the titles Image Think and The Society of Unlimited Responsibility.
My thesis: The Society of Unlimited Responsibility derives from the simple act of inversion of Society of Limited Responsibility / which is the literal translation into my mother tongue of the international business term LLP or LLC, GmbH or Srl and the analysis of its constituent notions and their relations to form and function of the work of art. The idea is to demonstrate the opposite meaning: that nowadays the multitude does not act within limits but with unlimited creative potential.
It took nearly a century for the term LLC to be adopted in various different forms in all nations and in all languages. So I ask myself: what is our world coming to if responsibility is ever more limited and societies (companies) ever les responsible. Will we need another century to limit the limitations of responsibility and become unlimitedly responsible?
The catalogue contains essays by curator Nataša Nikčević, Irena Lagator Pejović and Bazon Brock.