In the Penance performances, I utilized Christian spiritual technology - reconciliation through sacrifice - as a symbol or starting point. I assumed the role (function) of a representative of one group of people and bricked myself into a wall within an architectural structure representing another group or community. Through this (or our) Penance, I employed elements of Christianity to construct a narrative of communal redemption. The audience only witnesses the process in which the bricks separate me from them, and I become one with the environment in which they are situated. By doing so, I negate myself and vicariously incorporate a part of them into a space burdened by their own heritage. Thus far, I have walled myself into four historic buildings, each connected to one of the four elements and the symbolism associated with them, which have been used in the West to describe the structure of the Universe. My intention is to create a virtual fifth work in the series, the Quintessence, as a video installation.
The first Penance took place in the center of the synagogue, the holiest place for the Jewish community that once existed in Varaždin, Croatia. I associated this Penance with the element of fire, which symbolizes faith and God's presence. In synagogues, a candlestick known as the Menorah, a symbol of Judaism, should be constantly burning. Needless to say, fire was misused in the "final solution to the Jewish question," as well as by other national and ethnic groups.
Following a similar path, the Penance in Pula, Croatia, is connected to the element of earth. I walled myself up in a military bunker, which is the most explicit architectural symbol of war. Wars are often fought over land, or the earth in which the bunker is buried.
In Split, Croatia, I performed the Penance in Diocletian's basement halls, below sea level, specifically near the sewer opening (associated with St. Sebastian's death). In this performance, I addressed the dangers of tourism - the primary industry in Croatia - which goes hand in hand with the process of gentrification of the Palace, the reevaluation of the historical figure of Emperor Diocletian, and new legislation that hinders the manifestation of contemporary art in that space.
The last performance, titled "Air," took place in Mestrovic's pavilion in Zagreb, Croatia. The building is managed by the Croatian Association of Artists. The work was manifested in the high dome ventilation opening. This Penance was directed towards all institutions of power that exploit those for whom they were originally established.
PENANCE (Water), 2016.
performance, Split, Croatia
foto: Ratko Ilijić
PENANCE (Earth), 2015.
performance, Pula, Croatia
foto: Maja Iskra
PENANCE (Air), 2018.
performance, Zagreb, Croatia
foto: Juraj Vulgač