Galanterie Mécanique by Meta Grgurevič and Urša Vidic is a symphony of kinetic objects, video, performance and music. A homogenous spatial whole reveals a contemplation of the relationship between man and machine, collaboration and co-operation between individuals, and the position of the individual within wider social relationships. The driving force of the installation is harmony of constituent parts – the seemingly crucial or superfluous ones. The latter take on the role of tiny connecting elements, communicating with the seemingly established system and operation of mechanic elements and imbuing them with a lyrical and organic tinge, while assuming a part of mechanic essence. The new convolution becomes a working system, which is independent to a certain extent, buts need the participation of all components, both organic and mechanical, in order to function.
The key starting point, which, however, is not referenced directly and descriptively, is Modern Times. The artists establish a parallel narration, which is quite independent despite similar form and content. The Chaplin film lucidly and somewhat romantically critiques Fordist principles of production, which illustrates the capitalist tendency to mechanisation to increase efficiency and profit. The worker becomes only an imperfect, never sufficiently efficient part of the mechanic process of manufacturing, which gradually compels them to merge with the machine and changes activity into passive repetition.
The mechanicalness of the assembly line workers seeps into the performance, and relates to the heritage of Russian avant-garde theatre, particularly to the principles of Vsevolod Meyerhold, a post-revolutionary enthusiast who sought to create a theatre for the new industrial age. He rejected naturalistic and text-based acting, and introduced movement and gesture as the main means of expression. With complete control over their bodies, the actors created rhythm and movement, whole creating the form and content of the performances. Unlike Chaplin’s critical perspective, Meyerhold was led by Futurist enthusiasm, favouring progress and incorporating it into his theatre credo: actors performed movements with mechanical precision in a mutual synchronicity, which gives meaning to their individual roles. The became the wheels of a complex set machine.
Constructivist set design had a major role in Meyerhold’s performance – stylised acting drew inspiration from the increasingly mechanical everyday life of the proletariat. Marked by elaborate set and costume design, his project were the first to practically apply constructivism. In Meyerhold’s play complex, often moving constriction often directed the movement of actors.
In the project of Urša Vidic and Meta Grgurevič, a similar role is taken by a collage of chain mechanisms, which skilfully transition between small and large formats, and shadow and light, changing the gallery into an evocative space, which coexists with the movement of the dancers and the rhythm of music (which is the connecting element of the exhibition). The artists create a functioning system, a complex living organism made from small machines, their large shadows, performers, sound and video, connecting it into an organic whole, where everyone has to contribute in order for it to work. Galanterie Mécanique is a vision of harmony between equal stakeholders governed by solidarity and willing to serve anyone in order to preserve movement, the life in their shared environment. (Žiga Dobnikar)
In collaboration with: Performance / Created by: Meta Grgurevič, Jaša, Urša Vidic, Performed by: Nina Fajdiga, Leja Jurišić, Tine Grgurevič, KALU, Music by: Tine Grgurevič, Jaša, KALU / Costume design: Nika Ravnik / n i O k a / Video / Created by: Meta Grgurevič, Jaša , Concept by: Meta Grgurevič, Jaša and Urša Vidic , Text by: Jaša, Director of Photography: DK, Music by: Tine Grgurevič, Jaša, KALU / Technical support / Lightning design: Borut Cajnko, Design and 3D modeling: Johnatan Podboršek, Electricity works: Tomo Markočič in Martin Podlogar, Engineering: France Petač, Carpentry works: Tilen Grgurevič / Graphic design by: Janez Vidrih / Documentary by: Meta Grgurevič, Jaša , Maša Nonkovič / Proofreading Inge Pangos / Translated by: Tina Škoberne in Borut Cajnko.
Photo by: DK
Program selector: Katerina Mirović
Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana
Produced by: Svetlobna Gverila@Stipr Core / Forum Ljubljana, Škuc Gallery
In collaboration with: U3, 7th Triennial of Contemporary Art in Slovenia – Resilience, curated by: Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez
Co- Production by: PTL- Dance Teatre Ljubljana, MSUM- Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova