The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.
The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!
Tyler Durden, Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999)
The Fight Club exhibition was conceived as a reflex response to the invitation to participate in a curatorial duel. Presented to the public in a playful and populist manner, its polemical duality of the format and purpose of an experimental event broaches unpleasant questions provocatively from the perspectives of sociology and cultural studies and it problematises the denigrated value of art in the present context.
A cluster of fleeting associations and assumption, which bring about performances and an open kind of toying with art and the equation between the exhibition and spectacle, leads to a naïve and awkward sense of powerlessness, followed by disappointment due to the awareness of one’s own limitations and the inevitable need to accept responsibility.
The Fight Club exhibition draws a parallel between society and the art system and it questions the perception of the role of art in the present social context. The title of the exhibition refers to the presented social context in the eponymous novel (unbridled consumption, alienation from work, the sense of the meaninglessness of life, and the utter exhaustion of the resources of the Western system’s paternalistic power) and it alludes to the need to keep creating emergency exists that make survival within the system possible.
The exhibition is presented as a random cabinet of curiosities, in which artworks, which are not formally or conceptually connected, strive to retain their genuine interest and secure their free interpretation. The exhibited works share the fact they were created in the times of our hypercomplex society, which crushes every attempt at expressing human disagreement (The Play/Igra, Nina Koželj). The dependence on technology as a tool dictating our social existence (Live Screen plugged into Multi Plug Eye, Dan Adlešič) and on consumerism to secure wellbeing has brought about the nonsensical hyperproduction of trends, such as the proliferation of ineffective therapeutic colouring books for adults (Ich Überrasche, Small but dangers), wich boost themselves in order to generate a constant need for new trends.
The crucial value of art, seen as an emergency exit and refuge for imagination (Mating Season Totalitarism, Iva Tratnik), has changed into a rigid and non-innovative ecosystem, in which constant and uniform reproduction of the species through the exclusivity of pseudointellectual vacuity and the utter absence of self-criticism have become essential for survival (Untitled/Brez naslova, Matej Stupica). The futile attempts of art to become an agent of social change (connective art, art of dialogue, collective art, and artivism) reveal that the value of art is an alternative means of negotiation, but also the ineffectiveness of the latter as a weapon to fight excitement and overabundance (The Banquet/Banket, Pri zlatem stegnu), encouraged by various art manifestations and systemic requirements for productivity.
If the invitation to participate in a curatorial duel gives the impression, just like in the movie, of promoting the “indulgence in the excitement of beating a defenceless man’s face into a pulp”, the intentional discrepancy between the suggestiveness of the title and the content of the exhibition, the inedible sumptuous feast and the non-fulfilment of any thematic exhibition-related expectations necessarily lead to frustration.
Nevertheless, the exhibited artworks may have a cathartic effect, not unlike the effect of the performance foreseen by a clairvoyant and then performed by a spontaneous group of refugees together with the artists Veli & Amos (Birds Cant Talk feat. Believe Me Nicky) to save something as difficult to control as the whales, representing an allegory of art in this case. And even though the exhibition, just like the film, can be interpreted as “a fascist rhapsody posing as a metaphor of liberation”, I hope that the visitors are able, through a personal interpretation, to restore the primary value of art at least for a moment.