MSU – Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb

Muzej Suvremene Umjetnosti
Museum of Contemporary Art
10010 Zagreb


By Courtesy of MSU

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Dragan Živadinov (Ilirska Bistrica, Slovenia, 1960) / Dunja Zupančič (Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1963)

G=O / D
Biomechanics Noordung 1 and 2

installation, 2 light boxes, painted wall
2 x (120 x 160 x 14 cm)
Inv/No 4244 (1-2)

In 1995, Dragan Živadinov and Dunja Zupančič commenced an extremely interesting adventure in art and life: they opened an entirely new space in art mediated by non-gravitational conditions like the extraterrestrial ones, i.e. in the communication spheres of cyberspace.

After several years of activities in organizing important retro-garde theatre projects (Theatre of Scipion Nasica’s Sisters 1983-1997; Cosmo-kinetic Theatre “Red Pilot” 1987–1999; Cosmo-kinetic Cabinet Noordung 1990–1995–2045), in 1995 Živadinov started the tele-cosmic project Mechatron Tele-cosmic Station. He initiated a new practice of theatre activity that he calls Noordung Fifty-year Project, which includes repeat performances of the same play every ten years, with always the same 16 performers (actors). This is actually a continuous play in which the only dynamics and change is the natural, physical absence of performers who have died in the meantime. The actors who have departed from this world will be replaced by a mechatron and music rhythm, and the “Inhabited Noordung Sculpture” will emerge.

Biomechanics Noordung is a kind of “earthly” manifesto in which Živadinov, as the initiator, and Dunja Župančič, as the designer of the visual solution, according to Marina Gržinič take a position towards the “kinetic conceptualization of new technologies and elaborate the topics of simulation, simulacrum, and cyborgs/cybernetics/cybernauts”, stressing gravitation as the last problematic force. This impetus is well-known within the body of twentieth-century art, ranging from suprematism to abstraction, from Kandinsky and László Moholy-Nagy to Yves Klein. All of them were preoccupied with the idea of zero gravity and anti-gravitational space expressed in the language of art. Živadinov and Zupančič follow the experiences of zaum and the suprematism of the historical avant-garde art, as well as Meyerhold’s theatre principle that the power of a great utopian desire transforms the experiences of the physical world into new (meta)plastic forms, no matter whether they are a human body, visual art symbols, film, or architecture.

The thesis about anti-gravitational art developed by Živadinov and Zupančič back in 1995 sounded utopian, but in 1999 the Cosmo-kinetic Cabinet of the Noordung Theatre performed Biomechanical Noordung in a Russian zero-gravity simulation vessel in which astronauts are prepared for their missions at the Jurij Gagarin Training Centre of Star City near Moscow. The actors performed the zero gravity act within one minute. Because it was performed without a public, it was filmed and the authors use these photographs to create visual art and theatrical ambiences. In the ambiences G=O/D Biomechanics Noordung 1 and 2 they combine a painted wall with photographs in light boxes.

In accordance with the anti-gravitational philosophy, as a physical variant of the psychological phenomenon of liberation, Živadinov and Zupančič call for a global, modernist Utopia that knows no beginning and no end, up and down, here and now, but turns everything into timelessness and spacelessness. Dragan Živadinov’s statement about the year 2045 confirms that we can regard their project as real-life morality and not merely theatrical. At that time his scene will have no more living actors, all of whom will be replaced by 16 Mechatrons: “On May 1, 2045 I shall fly to the geo-static orbit of a space craft and place them on 16 satellites – Umbots circling the Earth.

Text: Tihomir Milovac