Finally, the general public can relax. At least those who have been intensely looking for a whale off the shores of Split – if one trusts a popular tune from the 1980s. For the whale has finally made its appearance, although in a somewhat unexpected locality: at the Museum of Fine Arts Split. How it managed to jump into its atrium and use its venerable head, which in the Cetacea makes up around 35% of the animal's total size, to break through the museum’s wall and reach the exhibition space, remains to be investigated. Even though it is now stranded between two different spaces, it seems to be in a very good condition. It seems benevolent, curious, and intelligent, which is hardly surprising, given that it has the largest brain of all animal species, weighing around nine and half kilograms. It is called Arnie, a name that it received after Schwarzenegger. For all those who would like to see him, Arnie has decided to receive them in his temporary office starting from September 15 at 8:00 p.m., when some protocol speeches will take place, until September 27, 2015. Adapting himself to the office hours of his hosts, he will not receive on Mondays. Representatives of the Tourist Office have already announced that they would present him with the traditional Split toga and offer him the role of Emperor Diocletian.
After this marketing-oriented introduction, which today, as the initiated claim, nobody can do without, including the museums, one should say something about the person behind the whole thing. Arnie is a product of the mind and hands of Tina Vukasović, a young Split artist. Seen strictly through its medium, Arnie is a sculpture transformed into a spatial installation for this exhibition. In terms of interpretation, this information is important, although not crucial. Tina's main concern is not to observe the traditional sculptural values or to explore the form. The essential aspect is on the semantic, rather than the formal level. The beginning stage in creating an artwork is to articulate the concept, to elaborate the idea, during which phase the perfect medium of visualization and the mode of presentation are crystalized. However, regardless of today's technological possibilities, from CNC machines to 3D printers, Arnie is a fruit of manual skills and practical, albeit very inventive solutions. Therefore, unlike the model-like dumbness of wooden horses in the Alka tournament, he radiates living intimacy, or as his author would say: Partly crafted like an air matrass, it suggests playfulness and freedom. This DIY poetics goes well with easily accessible materials such as Fimo modelling clay, elastic rubbers, reflecting foil, polyurethane foam, and Styrofoam.
The topics that intrigue me are mostly linked to emotional conflicts, the relationship between the observer and the artwork, and the passing of time – waiting, utopia, and transformation, as Tina points out. Often her dose of absurdity and humour serves not only to attract, but functions as a relevant commentary on her personal and social reality. After all, it is about serious matters. We can look at Arnie through the contrasting pairs such as nature-art, manual-digital, actual-virtual; we can look at him as an example of innovative treatment of the exhibition space and artwork. Perhaps the best solution is to look at Arnie as a substitute for Ida, a puppet that the artist has created to her likeness to represent her on several occasions. Thus, Ida has studied instead of her, read books, attended a business meeting and once she also went for a holiday. Creating a work of art under the pressure of time and financial possibilities requires a does of madness, as Tina wrote in the beginning of this adventure. It is nothing else than hitting one's head against the wall. In order to succeed, you must have the courage, the technique, and of course the head, as well as an self-ironical detachment. Ida did not have a particularly good time on holiday, so the title got a comment saying Fiasco, which would have been more appropriately attached to the culturist bastard of the same name, which trivializes both ideas and ideals. Is it truly easier to mature bravely than to age in dignity?
Božo Majstorović (curator of the exhibition)
Tina Vukasović was born 1989 in Split, where she completed her secondary education at Vladimir Nazor Grammar School. She obtained her bachelor (2011) and master (2013) degrees in painting from the Museum of Fine Arts Split, under the supervision of Nina Ivančić and Viktor Popović, with Blaženka Perica as a supervisor for theory. Vukasović is a member of the Croatian Artists' Association and the art groups Čekanje and Bez naziva. So far, she has presented her work at four solo and several group exhibitions. In 2014, she was shortlisted or the Radoslav Putar Award for young visual artists, granted by the Institute of Contemporary Art Zagreb (SCCA). She is also involved in project coordination (Fast Forward – Tuesdays at the Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts Split) and exhibition organization (Bez naziva Gallery, Split). She has participated in the Punta Arta – Island Map 2 programme on the island of Zlarin as artist in residence and in two Erasmus Plus projects in Turkey and Italy.
Collaborators on the exhibition: Marino Vukasović, Ivana Vukušić, Lana Beović, Dajana Džafo, Vedrana Vučenović, Maja Brajević, Tihana Mandušić - Tetka, Francine Flandrine, Vojin Hraste, and Smile Polyclinic.