Les onze mille verges
what I love most about you, is your unforgiving nature.
André Breton, Surrealist Manifesto, 1924
The project Les onze mille verges (Eleven Thousand Rods) that artist Zora Stančič is presenting in KAPSULA, shares with Guillaume Apollinaire’s fantastic novel not only the title but also its wordplay as well as its boldness, humour and, above all, its intention. Books, catalogues and art publications of all sorts, which usually gaze at us from the shelves of the exhibition space, are now wrapped in an ordinary brown paper, which we associate with the common, the trivial and the mundane. However, regardless of its initial discrete appearance, the multifaceted confluence of dualities that characterizes the work of this restless and unique artist is echoed in this project yet again. We can consider the artist’s intervention from two perspectives – the parapornographic and the paraliteral. Their common denominator is the art form of pornographic literature as a starting point for reflection on the passionate relationship between man and art.
Reproductions of pages of coincidentally found edition of Apollinaire’s work, drawn on wrapping paper, mark the first, parapornographic perspective of the project. Like its surreal and hilarious original, the reproductions include, besides all the motives of the pornographic literature itself, the main characteristics of pornographic consumerism: obscenity as virtue, the ever-present random exchange between people and things, emotional apathy and absolutism. This intervention of books in the exhibition space transmits the perception of pornographic literature and its consumption as a symptom of severe crisis, as a dehumanized and mechanic activity with a sole goal – to arouse sexual excitement of the reader – into the artistic field. As an ironic gesture the artist uses this metaphor to mock the uncontrollable nature of current cultural scene and, same as the original, restores the value of imagination in art as an expression of individual’s freedom.
In another aspect, the artist presents intimate, subtle drawings in a distinctively paraliteral act. Her sharp strokes demark blurred fields of human projections, desires and fears and legitimate their existence. This is how she clearly demonstrates her firm determination to contribute to the expressive and poetic role of the artistic language of the original work and its intention. As Susan Sontag claims: “>experience itself is not pornographic, only images and perceptions – imaginative structures – are such”. Through fragmentation of bodies and the absence of expressed emotions, the pornographic imagination questions the paradigms and established hegemonistic tendencies of our society and opens a space for viewers to search for their own answers. The artist’s incomplete sensual images oblige us to self-reference and construct our own images in which we create our own space, using the imagination as a powerful weapon for personal and social transcendence.
Through reading and final construction of images, the intervention invites visitors to resort to their own imagination in search of their ideals. With the project Les onze mille verges, which incites our curiosity and instinct in an endless search of freedom through art, Zora Stančič contributes to the work that Apollinaire entrusted to great poets and artist, which is that of fulfilling “a clear social role that is no other than continuous renovation of the appearance that nature wears in the eyes of men”.