Damir Očko and Pavel Brăila
Gæp’s booth brings together new collages by Damir Očko and neon works by Pavel Brăila to suggest ways in which social reality is not a given, but is constantly created “through language, gesture, and all manner of symbolic social sign” (Judith Butler).
Očko’s interest in the marginal states of the body has manifested itself throughout the years in films, expanded in collages, objects, sound installations, and poetry. Since the pandemic broke out, he refocused his studio practice on a body of works on paper that are simultaneously anagram collages, “drag forms” and a catalogue of phobias. From the fear of (hand)writing (graphophobia >> anagram: Oh Grab A Hippo) to the fear of being seen or stared at (scoptophobia >> anagram: Basic Photo Op), the collages explore extreme anxieties by mixing logic with the absurd, and the serious with the ludic. The Zagreb-based artist embraces chaos and stokes instability as potentiating forces for creative expression. In the tradition of Dada, he employs images, language, costuming and masks to question the very notion of meaning. At the same time, his work reflects modern theories on the performativity of identities.
For two decades, Brăila’s work has been giving voice to that which is difficult to pronounce. Not only to his hometown of Chișinău, but, on a larger scale, to the uncomfortable realities behind geopolitical discourse and to the universal emotions that bind us across borders. The artist works with video, performance, installation and objects to tackle complex sociopolitical issues, but he never loses sight of the human, emotional, undercurrent. Made 17 years apart, the statement neon works in this presentation (Fear Is Shorter Than Fervour, 2004, and I really miss dancing, 2021) are bridged by the exploration of social codes of fragility and resistance.