06 February 2000
THE GREAT ART SWINDLE
Do you ever get the feeling you're being cheated?
A disclosure by 0100101110101101.ORG and Luther Blissett
I declare that I have invented the life and the works of art of the Serbian artist Darko Maver, born in Krupanj in 1962 and dead at the Potgorica penitentiary on April 30th, 1999.
Darko Maver was born and lived in the Balkan area, which nowadays
is being ravaged and plundered by the economic and geopolitical
interests of the mighty, by the forces of different ethnic groups
and in the end, by the vulture-machine of the media.
Darko Maver was a politically incorrect artist, his performances hard to digest; nevertheless he was ready to be absorbed into the art system. His work, once properly homogenised and deprived of its expressive force, was ready to go through the canonical way which links galleries, exhibitions, the art market, and finally takes to the eternal peace of the museum, apex of an anaesthetic process, of disarmament and sterilization, a process which art has always suffered.
The museum is a sheer temple where art is celebrated, faked and degraded, just as prison degrades life making it unrecognisable. And the theorem, once more, proves to be exact: an artist (an identity), a style, the works... and the system is ready to absorb everything and turn life into commodities.
...all this won't happen to Darko Maver.
Because Darko Maver doesn't exist! Because his works don't exist!
PART I: BIOGRAPHY/ THE CREATION OF THE CHARACTER
Darko Maver, real name of a well known Slovenian criminologist, is a media creature. Studied in details to penetrate the resistance of the art system, new Trojan horse, Darko Maver hasn't failed. At the moment of his recycling - unavoidable destiny of any thought/action, even the most extreme and radical, under capitalism - when his hands were already tied, he vanished, revealing all his potential.
PART II: THE WORKS/THE MYTHOPOESIS
The diffusion of the name and works of Darko Maver is an active riot against any dominant form of art. Where the borders between reality and false, if they exist at all, are so thin that often the roles exchange and reality copies imitation, Darko Maver is an essay of pure mythopoesis.
The dreadful images of foetuses and aborts, alleged evidence
of Darko's activities at the Belgrade Academy, were true, yet,
without effort, we made people believe they were huge PVC and
fibreglass sculptures, even wearable!
The famous 'Tanz der Spinne' is made of images of real deaths, rapes and violence of many kind; no dummy ever existed and no Serbian newspaper ever reviewed Maver's performances. All this inventory of horrifying images can be found on the Internet site http://www.rotten.com and other sites like that, accessible to anybody who have a strong stomach.
Maver's very face was actually that of Roberto Capelli, a long-time member of the Luther Blissett Project in Bologna.
The reality of images regarded as simulation balances the inexistence of an artist regarded as real. But an artist, to be true, needs a poetic, a theorisation of his work. Here are the 'Dimension of the Extrabodies' and other wild texts, absolutely impossible to read - parodies of too many nauseating theories on mutations/contamination - no way one can find any meaning in them; texts which an art critic, during the last exhibition on the 'Darko Maver affair' (Rome, September 9, 1999) indignantly claimed they had actually been written Francis Bacon!
In the beginning were two web sites, the only "proof"
of Maver's existence. However, the Internet as medium gives no
guarantees, on the contrary, the easiness to confuse identities
is part of its own nature; being on the Internet was not enough
for anyone to be interested in the Serbian artist's work. Darko
Maver, or at least his works of art, was to materialise to be
noticed, and so they did.
PART III: THE JAIL/THE EXHIBITIONS
In August '98 a well known gallery of Ljubljana, the Kapelica Gallery, exhibited the documentation of 'Tanz der Spinne', creating a precious precedent for the following exhibitions dedicated to the elusive artist. Soon came the Bologna exhibition, on 18-19-20 of February 1999, during a benefit show for freedom of speech, which showed many works of different artists like Liberatore, Martin, Manara.
Hundreds of attentive visitors pressed in the room dedicated to Darko Maver. Shocked by the performances images - the originals have been censored and destroyed - they tried to find an explanation-comfort in the texts. Result: since February '99, after only a few months of life, Darko Maver was already a myth; at least in the underground.
The propaganda continued: the works' censorship, their destruction
and the arrest of Darko on charges of anti-patriotic propaganda.
On the net, accounts of these events were posted to hundreds of
subscribers of the "EntarteteKunst" (http://www.EntarteteKunst.org)
newsletter, provoking mentions and links in other sites; at the
same time some articles were published: "Flesh Out"
(#3, April '99) dedicated two pages to the life and works of Maver
while "Tema Celeste" (#73, March '99) published an imprisonment-related
solidarity press release. The arrest had allegedely taken place
on January 13, 1999 around the Kosovo area. Many other news pieces
followed. Very often, Maver was cited as an example of censorship,
other times only mentioned.
That was the time in which the situation in Kosovo, already intolerable, bursted out with the NATO intervention in the Balkan area.
PART IV: THE DEATH/ THE MYTH
The 30 of April 1999 Darko Maver's death was announced.
The picture of the corpse spread itself and roused some intriguing questions: homicide? Suicide? The final, tragic performance?
This last act of Darko Maver's life was explained in a clear and sharp article, "Puppets of war", appeared on environmentalist magazine "Modus Vivendi" (July - August '99). According to then author, the life and works of Darko Maver might be read as a critique to media exploitation/manipulation of the victims' images in the war.
From death to myth was a short step. It was time to celebrate the Serbian artist dead under the NATO bombing. On June 12th '99, at the Bienniale of young artists, in Rome, the theatrical group sciattoPRODUZIE dedicate to the martyr his performance titled 'Awakening, a tribute to Darko Maver' and showed one more time the documentary stuff on his work.
On September 23rd, at the 48th Art Biennale in Venice, was presented the documentary "Darko Maver - the art of war".
On September 25th, the "Forte Prenestino" squat/multimedia centre in Rome hosted a retrospective dedicated to the work of Maver. The exhibition included the whole documentation of the 'Tanz der Spinne' installation and the previously unpublished 'Darko Maver early works' : collages and sculptures made in the early 80's.
The presence of Maver at Venice Biennale was surely the highest achievement in the long process exposing the permeability of such a vulnerable system like the art world.