The collages, films, and architectural mises-en-scène of the Croatian artist David Maljkovic form part of the current critical engagement with modernism. Maljkovic turns his attention to sculptural and architectonic symbols that, against the backdrop of Yugoslav socialism, signified the dawn of a new era. He renegotiates these on a historic, cultural, and theoretical level by relating it to the present and the future. In his exhibition at the Secession he takes a different path: He reflects his own previous ideas by giving many of his existing works a radical restaging. Objects developed as presentation structures for other contexts and contents will be cleared out and emptied. Maljkovic arranges these objects in the main exhibition hall and accents them only with minimal marks and interventions like fog or sounds.
In this way, Exhibitions for Secession is deliberately at odds with the model of the classical retrospective as an exhibition that brings together and sequences a representative cross-section of the artist’s work. It also goes far beyond a site-specific adaptation of prototypical works. Instead, by concentrating on various forms of display, Maljkovic focuses attention on his own artistic strategies and experiences, as well as addressing the act of exhibiting itself. Besides the site-specificity of the exhibition space, the themes he addresses fascinatingly and with surprising turns include the distinction between fine and applied art, narrative structures in space, and the historical references present in the displays: ‘One could say it is all about a kind of looking back, and the project itself takes the shape of a retrospective show and assumes its principles, but it does not tend to look back at works or to analyse the retrospective procedure itself. Rather, it is more a retrospective show of exhibition experiences, i.e., it deals with the act of setting up and the way of showing the subject I was concerned with. The project is conceived in a way that rids itself of content and isolates the set-up itself. The retrospective attitude does not pertain to the works themselves but to the sum of set-ups from various exhibitions. This act of annulling the content and concentrating on the experience of presenting certain content is not equal to questioning the content or pretending to negate it. The procedure is concerned with structures of certain works, or, one could say, with accentuating the art practice itself.’ (David Maljkovic)
In her essay Annette Südbeck brings out that one of the most striking aspects of David Maljkovic´s new works is their specific, Janus-like temporality which connects memory and imagination: ‘References to the objects’ own history constantly compete with their obvious emptiness and openness, the promise of future uses and the as-yet-unfulfilled longing for such usage. Designed as supports and containers for something else, in an emptied state the works become surfaces for projections, places where (mental) images are created (’) While this ambivalence is already present in each individual display as a result of its being exhibited as an autonomous object, their arrangement in a space takes this to a higher, cinematographic level (’) The importance of movement through space for Maljkovic is also apparent in his graphic design for the catalogue and the specific use of overlapping pictures. The exhibition architecture and the artist’s thoughts on his own storeroom can only be perceived by walking through them.’