Croatian multimedia artist Toni Meštrović is presented for the first time with the large scale exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts by the installation titled Hack the System. Through this site-specific installation he transforms the museum space on two levels. Firstly, by hacking the existing surveillance system, using the cameras and control monitor, he introduces the topic of covert control and surveillance. Secondly, hacking is done also on a level of the gallery or museum content. Instead of the customary exhibition content, the author completely empties the gallery space, turns the lights off and transforms the audience into the object of exhibition i.e. surveillance. Specific content of the exhibition is thus created in an interactive manner – through movement and sound of the visitors that is projected into the exhibition space through closed-circuit video. The work is an homage to the beginnings and the experimental quality of video art, especially to the period of 1970s when the excitement of the then new medium resulted in some of the first examples of closed-circuit video art. At the same time, the author examines the problem of constant media exposure and visibility (intentional and unintentional) by putting visitors in an inverted subject-object situation, clearly depicting the absurdities of the contemporary society. Hack the System continues the authors long and thorough research of video and sound art, and in the context of exhibition projects at the Museum of Fine Arts it gives an altered view of the museum-audience relation.
Toni Meštrović was born 1973 in Split, Croatia, is a video artist working predominantly in form of video and sound installations. He graduated with a Graphic Arts degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1999, where he produced graphic arts, sculpture and installation. Due to his interest in electronic audio-visual media, he studied Video/Digital Imaging with prof. Valie Export at the International Summer Academy for Contemporary Art in Salzburg in 1997, and completed a two-year postgraduate diploma in Media Art with prof. David Larcher and prof. Anthony Moore at the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne in 2004. Video, sound and audio-visual installations produced during Meštrović’s postgraduate studies explore his personal perception of the sea, and the island where he grew up. After his return to Croatia in 2004, his work deals with themes of cultural heritage, identity and the transformations that have occurred in Dalmatia due to the period of transition. Some of his continuous thematic preoccupations are the assimilation of the linear and cyclical time and the exhaustion of a type of narrative that we are used to and expect in our everyday lives, as well as a wide range of the topic of change, either as a record of evaporation of water like in a closed circuit video installation, or as a commentary of social change.Since 1992, he has taken part in group and solo shows, as well as video festivals, in Croatia and internationally. He is the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, such as the Young Artist Award at the Croatian Association of Artists in Zagreb in 2007 and second prize at the T-HTAward@MSU.hr in 2013. He lives in Rijeka and Kaštela, and is an Associate Professor at the Arts Academy University of Split, Department of Film and Video.