200 000 steps

Solo exhibition 200 000 steps
AK Gallery, Koprivnica, Croatia
13th of June – 4th of July 2020

The phenomenon of walking as an artistic practice has been addressed by many authors from different perspectives, the very performative aspect of walking was addressed by many artists throughout history. Does the act of walking explore the social and political circumstances of a particular space, is it treated as a spiritual or aesthetic practice, is it part of a solitary or collective experience, does it question movement in itself or what that movement changes in us/our surroundings, is it a subversive act of resistance against the capitalistic system or does it invoke a fairer ecosystem, is walking performed in an urban or non-urban space, represent just some of the questions that arise for us. Walking as a way of exploring urban space and as an artistic practice has been present since the early twentieth century: from Dadaist performances in the 1920s and collective trips to places that have no reason to exist where walking serves as a medium for criticizing social values, through Guy Debord and 1950s situationists who looked at the city as a living organism and were interested in psychogeography, that is, the ways in which a specific geographical environment affects the inner state of man. In the sixties, with the appearance of land art, for the first time, walking and nature were intertwined in the form of a performance. Richard Long and Hamish Fulton are just some of the authors who used walking as their artistic practice, trying to either leave a mark in nature or avoid traditional views of the work of art as an object: they were interested in dematerializing the work of art and emphasizing the process. These performances began to use the body (aware of the limits of its corporality) and move in the manner of a blend between a ritual and an exploration.
The work of Mario Matoković presented at this exhibition is a continuation of this practice from the sixties, the practice of walking performance and the importance of the process, with the clear goal of leaving the urban environment for nature. In front of us, if we recall his work, is actually Matoković’s first work in which he made a departure from his previous artistic practice, which was extremely critical of the deviations in society, especially in the local social and political context. Although he has already used his own body to the point of exhaustion in some earlier works and researched the performance of duration and endurance (To all of those people who destroyed my city, 2017) or used landscape as a theme (Uncertain spaces I, 2018), it is only in his work “200,000 steps” that he has stepped towards the exploration of their own psychophysical state and inner world. His old works seemed to move between the political and the existential, and now they have become purely existential. And that through the act of walking in nature.
The artwork “200,000 steps” was created during Art Omi’s residency in America in 2019. The author decided to explore the completely unknown and new space with the act of movement. He walked for a couple of hours for fifteen days, walking a total of 150 kilometers, recording moments of discomfort and fear with an analog camera and collecting plants with which he drew on paper a form of visual sketches of his mental state. Each performance is in some way an attempt to connect with ourselves and the world, often through repetitions of some basic action. Walking emphasizes these efforts because it consists of endless repetition of a banal action, putting one foot in front of the other. It is in this gap between the ground and the air, the repetition of that charged moment that has already happened or has not yet happened, that something is created. Whether it is thought, abandonment, presence, absence, coming back to oneself, remembering, healing, rediscovering, forgetting, only the walker knows. Walking is never the same, it is always a path to the unknown, collecting, leaving a trace, at least invisible, a desire to be elsewhere, never in the same place, a pure need to move, a distance from oneself, from others. It is all and nothing of it, just a hint of a slight “conquest” of space, the tension of what has passed and what is yet to come, and in fact more than anything, now and here.
This is exactly why the author dared to take that first of 200 000 steps, to discover what walking will reveal to him. This is not about wandering or approaching nature and originality by walking, in the romantic sense in which Rousseau wrote, but about pushing the boundaries of one’s own body and mind, where the actor is the artist himself performing the work of art by walking and recording it: a work of art is an event, not an object, as Misko Suvakovic writes. Nature itself, on the other hand, is in a constant process of movement, and the presence of the artist in it not only changes space (in this case on micro levels), but also that movement, which is essential to nature, changes the one who touches it. This mutual change and reliance raises a distinctly anthropocentric question of hierarchy, whether man dominates nature or vice versa. The domination of people over people preceded the idea of domination over nature, and the hierarchy in society also shaped our superior and cruel view of it. In this case, walking is a distinctly non-invasive act, an intimate touch of foot and ground. By walking you are always somewhere else, but you never own that place. You just touch it. Walking here is an escape, but also an encounter with oneself and with the unknown. Somehow it is not strange to me that by walking Matoković moved away from his previous practice because, as Frederic Gross writes in the book “Philosophy of Walking” (…), by walking you run away from the very idea of identity, the temptation to be someone, to have a name and history. “
The author presents his experience with a video documentation of the performance, a series of 15 drawings made by plants that give a visual representation of his condition that particular day (while numbers indicate pulse and number of steps), as well as a series of 20 analog photographs and plants he collected along the way. The practice of walking and collecting organic materials is also already known in the history of performance and land art. The documentation of the whole process is important to the author, he wants to record his condition aware that, like walking, it will never happen the same way again. For the work created at the residence, Matoković adds a new walking performance for this exhibition: from Osijek where he lives to the AK Gallery in Koprivnica. Regardless of the weather conditions, the author again, after exactly one year, decided to walk almost the same distance. At the time of writing, we don’t know if the author will join us at the opening, what the walking experience and performance documentation will look like. The author re-examines the boundaries of his body and what moving him out of a familiar context does. Walking here is not an expression of activism, but a medium that opens up the possibility of personal transformation. Endurance and durability, as characteristics of this form of performance, only contribute to this desired transformation.
Although on the trail of the performances from the 60’s, Matoković is not interested in leaving a trail in nature, but a trail that will remain in himself. These performances are a kind of a ritual cleansing from everything he has done so far, from the fact that social reality defines him as an artist and a man. This is the author’s attempt to meet himself, together with a shift out of the context that has begun to burden him. And the very need to move is a sign that we want to change something.

Samostalna izložba 200 000 koraka
AK Galerija, Koprivnica
13.6. – 4.7. 2020.

Fenomenom hodanja kao umjetničke prakse bavili su se mnogi autori iz različitih perspektiva, a samim performativnim aspektom hodanja mnogi umjetnici kroz povijest. Istražuje li čin hodanja društvene i političke okolnosti nekog prostora, tretira li se kao spiritualna ili estetska praksa, je li dio samotnog ili kolektivnog iskustva, propituje li kretanje samo ili što to kretanje mijenja u nama/oko nas, je li subverzivni akt otpora prema kapitalističkom sistemu ili prizivanje pravednijeg ekosustava, hoda li se u urbanom ili ne-urbanom prostoru, samo su neka od pitanja koja nam se nameću. Hodanje kao način istraživanja urbanog prostora i kao umjetnička praksa prisutno je od početka dvadesetog stoljeća: od dadaističkih performansa iz dvadesetih godina i kolektivnih odlazaka na mjesta koja nemaju razloga postojati gdje im hodanje služi kao medij kritike društvenih vrijednosti, preko Guy Deborda i situacionista pedesetih godina koji su gledali na grad kao na živi organizam te bili zainteresirani za psihogeografiju, odnosno, načine na koje specifično geografsko okruženje utječe na unutarnje stanje čovjeka. Šezdesetih godina pojavom land arta po prvi se puta isprepliću hodanje i priroda u formi performativnog izvođenja. Richard Long i Hamish Fulton samo su neki od autora koji su hodanje koristili kao svoju umjetničku praksu, pokušavajući ili ostaviti trag u prirodi ili izbjeći tradicionalne poglede na umjetničko djelo kao objekt: zanimala ih je dematerijalizacija umjetničkog djela i stavljanje naglaska na proces. Ti su performansi počeli koristiti tijelo (svjesno svojih granica tjelesnosti) i kretati se na tragu spoja rituala i istraživanja.

Rad Marija Matokovića predstavljen na ovoj izložbi nastavlja se na tu praksu šezdesetih, praksu performansa hodanja i važnosti procesa, s jasnim ciljem odlaska iz urbanog okoliša u prirodu. Pred nama je, ako se prisjetimo njegova opusa, zapravo prvi Matokovićev rad u kojem je napravio odmak od svoje dotadašnje umjetničke prakse koja je izrazito kritički nabijeno analizirala devijacije u društvu, osobito u lokalnom socijalnom i političkom kontekstu. Iako je već u nekim ranijim radovima koristio vlastito tijelo do granica iscrpljenosti te istraživao performans trajanja i izdržljivosti (To all of those people who destroyed my city, 2017.) ili koristio krajolik kao temu (Uncertain spaces I, 2018.), tek je u radu „200000 koraka“ zakoračio prema istraživanju vlastitog psihofizičkog stanja i unutarnjeg svijeta. Njegovi stari radovi kao da su se kretali između političkog i egzistencijalnog, a sada su postali čisto egzistencijalni. I to kroz čin hodanja u prirodi.
„200000 koraka“ nastao je na rezidencijalnom boravku Art Omi u Americi 2019. godine. Autor je odlučio potpuno nepoznati i novi prostor istraživati kretanjem. Petnaest je dana hodao po par sati, prehodavši sveukupno 150 kilometara, bilježeći usput trenutke nelagode i straha analognom kamerom i sakupljajući biljke kojima je crtao na papiru vizualne skice psihičkog stanja. Svaki performans na neki je način pokušaj da stupimo u vezu sa sobom i svijetom, često kroz ponavljanja neke osnovne radnje. Hodanje ta nastojanja potencira jer se sastoji od beskrajnog ponavljanja banalne radnje, stavljanja noge pred nogu. Upravo u tom raskoraku između tla i zraka, repeticijom tog nabijenog trenutka koji se već jest i još nije dogodio, nastaje nešto. Je li to misao, prepuštanje, prisutnost, odsutnost, vraćanje k sebi, prisjećanje, ozdravljenje, ponovno otkrivanje, zaboravljanje, to zna samo hodač. Hodanje nikada nije isto dva puta, ono je uvijek put u nepoznato, sakupljanje, ostavljanje traga, makar nevidljivog, želja da se bude drugdje, nikad na istom mjestu, čista potreba za kretanjem, odmak od sebe, od drugih. Ono je i sve i ništa od toga, tek naznaka blagog „osvajanja“ prostora, tenzija onog što je prošlo i što tek dolazi, a zapravo više od svega, sada i ovdje.
Upravo je to razlog zašto se autor odvažio na taj prvi od 200000 koraka, da otkrije što će mu hodanje otkriti. Ovdje nije riječ o lutanju ili primicanju prirodi i izvornosti hodanjem, u onom romantičnom smislu u kojem je pisao Rousseau, već i o pomicanju granica vlastitog tijela i uma, gdje je akter sam umjetnik koji izvodi umjetničko djelo hodanjem te ga bilježi: umjetničko djelo je događaj, a ne predmet, kao što piše Šuvaković. Sama je priroda pak u konstantnom procesu kretanja, a prisustvo umjetnika u njoj ne mijenja samo prostor (u ovom slučaju na mikrorazinama), već i to kretanje suštinsko prirodi, mijenja onog koji ju dotakne. To uzajamno mijenjanje i oslanjanje nameće izrazito antropocentrično pitanje hijerarhije, dominira li čovjek nad prirodom ili je obrnuto. Dominacija ljudi nad ljudima prethodila je ideji dominacije nad prirodom, a hijerarhija u društvu oblikovala je i naš nadmoćni i okrutan pogled na nju. U ovom slučaju, hodanje je izrazito neinvazivan čin, intiman dodir noge i tla. Hodanjem si uvijek na nekom drugom mjestu, ali to mjesto nikad ne posjeduješ. Samo ga dotičeš. Hodanje je ovdje bijeg, ali i susret sa samim sobom i s nepoznatim. Nekako mi nije čudno da se baš hodanjem Matoković udaljio od svoje dotadašnje prakse jer, kao što Frederic Gros piše u knjizi „Filozofija hodanja“ (…) hodanjem bježiš od same ideje identiteta, iskušenja da budeš netko, da imaš ime i povijest.“
Autor nam svoje iskustvo prezentira video dokumentacijom performansa, serijom od 15 crteža biljkama koje daju vizualni prikaz njegova stanja tog dana (dok brojke označavaju puls i broj koraka), serijom od 20 analognih fotografija i biljkama koje je sakupio po putu. Praksa hodanja i prikupljanja organskih materijala također je već poznata u povijesti performansa i land arta. Dokumentacija cijelog procesa autoru je bitna, on svoje stanje želi zabilježiti svjestan da se, kao ni hodanje, nikad više neće desiti na isti način. Radu koji je nastao na rezidenciji, Matoković za ovu izložbu pridodaje novi performans hodanja: od Osijeka gdje živi do AK galerije u Koprivnici. Bez obzira na vremenske uvjete, autor je ponovno, nakon točno godinu dana, odlučio prehodati gotovo istu udaljenost. U trenutku pisanja teksta, ne znamo hoće li nam se autor pridružiti na otvorenju, kako će izgledati iskustvo hodanja i dokumentacija performansa. Autor ponovno istražuje granice svog tijela i ono što mu izmještanje iz poznatog konteksta čini. Hodanje ovdje nije izraz aktivizma, već medij koji otvara mogućnost osobne transformacije. Izdržljivost i trajanje, kao karakteristike ovog oblika izvedbe, samo pridonose toj željenoj transformaciji.
Iako na tragu performansa 60-ih, Matokovića ne zanima da ostavi trag u prirodi, već trag koji će ostati u njemu. Ovi performansi su neka vrsta ritualnog čišćenja od svega što je do sada radio, od činjenice da ga društvena stvarnost određuje kao umjetnika i čovjeka. Ovo je autorov pokušaj susreta sa sobom, uz izmještanje iz konteksta koji ga je počeo opterećivati. A već je i sama potreba za kretanjem znak da želimo nešto promijeniti.” , Tanja Špoljar, kustosica