The Croatian artist’s first solo exhibition in an Italian institution features a reflection on the structural nature of the 15th-century Convent of the Dimesse and the Servite that today houses the museum.

For her first solo exhibition in an Italian institution, Croatian-born artist Dora Budor (Zagreb, 1984) presents a project in GAMeC’s Spazio Zero. Conceived in relation to the exhibition Continent at the Kunsthaus Bregenz (2022), the exhibition considers context-specificity across multiple institutions as a recursive framework, with an interest in how their variances affect the perception of the work. At GAMeC, the artist’s interventions scrutinize the constructive and architectural prerogatives of Spazio Zero’s distinctive museum spaces, which are the result of architect Vittorio Gregotti’s restoration of the 15th-century convent delle Dimesse e delle Servite.

In Bregenz, Budor cast sections of a diaphragm tunnel surrounding the Austrian museum’s underground foundations, which serves to prevent the collapse of the adjacent buildings, and to expel the water and mud seepage from the alluvial soils on which it is grounded. The works, titled Kollektorgang (I–XIV), Kollektorgang (XV–XXIV), and Kollektorgang (XXV–XXIX) (all 2021),engage remnants of maintenance and administrative production as their materials. Within GAMeC’s hermetic Spazio Zero, the arrangement of Kollektorgang obstructs the entrances, creating a corridor that encircles the room. From its inception, the monastic convention used the corridor for quickening pace of couriered messages, initiating this circulation space as an instrument of speed. Through its various attachments to the flows of modernity, the corridor revolution of 19th century expanded its use for sanitation, surveillance, and institutionalization, channeling and defining people via its spatial regimes.

Joris-Karl Huysmans’s fictional character Jean Des Esseintes recollects in Against Nature: “We build walls to block the outside world and then hang paintings of landscapes as preferred replacements.” Architectural historian Robin Evans recounts this story to explain how similar structures are useful for retreating oneself, as in monasteries, and for enclosing and excluding behaviors that we find threatening, such as in prisons.[1] As a result, some monasteries have been aptly converted into prisons, and others into museums. An illusory sense of immunity and impervious separation between the self and the institution forms as a result of such interiorization. When, in fact, what appears to be the outside continuously slips inside, such as in case of language, digestion, infrastructure.

Termites (2022) comprises of remote-controlled sex toys placed inside the ventilation ducts which deliver fresh air, producing a continuous reverberation. The industrialized pleasure producers compromise the integrity of the room with the sense of dysfunctional infrastructure, with their spurs of jouissance, and against the reproductive finality.

Hanging in the adjoining room, opposite to the line of windows secured with iron bars, are a sequence of frottages from the series Love Streams (2022). In these works, antidepressants are used as a mark-making substance in rubbings of the walls and floors of artist’s temporary studio in Berlin. They posit capitalist-induced competition of pleasure and well-being as a generator of forms, drawing a thin line between using and being used by the effects that form our contemporary reality.

Text by Morin Sinclaire

[1] Evans, Robin; “The Rights of Retreat and the Rites of Exclusion: Notes Towards the Definition of Wall”, Architectural Design, vol. 41, no.6 (June 1971)