Exhibition: MARIO MATOKOVIĆ Continuity of Silence

Continuity of Silence
Prsten Gallery
August 27 – September 16, 2021

Exhibition opening: August 27, at 8PM


I just wanted to see what you look like, I have your CV, I don’t have any questions, we will get back to you.

Mario Matoković’s new work – Continuity of Silence – clearly builds and relies on his questioning of the socio-political and anthropological outlines of our version of the post-transitional society. It speaks about the position of workers in Croatia and is composed of a series of prints and photographic portraits. The prints, about 15 of them, are of a larger format made in the drypoint technique, while some of the portraits are exhibited as banners on the façade of the Meštrović Pavilion, and some are framed on the gallery wall. The prints are covered by the traces of the engraving needle to the extent to which the artist’s outstretched arms could reach and his endurance in engraving the traces on the graphic plate would allow. The red colour of the print, the saturation of which varies from sheet to sheet, leads the observer’s thoughts in several different directions and associations. For some, it will imply the redness of the cheeks blushing with excitement, agitation or even because of a colloquial slap. For some, red will be the symbol of the blood that is the same colour in everyone. It can also be a sign of engagement for workers’ rights or shame because of the powerlessness of the individual in the society of many.

Dear colleague, do not bend down like that in front of me.

On the red background of the intaglio print quotes are lithographically printed in gold; like the most valuable inscriptions made by medieval gilders. All of these words represent written statements, sentences, authentic testimonies of individuals. What they have in common is that they have been uttered by men in positions of power – due to their position, political function or just age – and addressed towards, mainly younger, women. They function as a well-known and very effective instrument of power in areas with undefined boundaries where tacit retreat before the stronger, more powerful and ultimately more successful one is almost a rule.

Honey, if you want this job, somebody needs to put in a good word for you.

The prints are placed on the wall like flags, along with the photographic portraits of people they were addressed to at a particular point in their professional life. Like a kind of monument to silence, in the artist’s words, institutionalised and frozen in the moment. Do we all approve of such a state of affairs by keeping silent, waving it away or shrugging it off? Considering such, now almost everyday examples of such “practice“, it seems like we do, but the question is for how long.

By all moral standards, you would get the job, but you won’t.

The society in which one’s background and connections, and not what they know and how well they do their job define their success, may survive. It may even function that way for a long time. But the question of whether we can silently accept the status quo is actually addressed to a far broader issue. Empathy and equality of all are some of the fundamental values of (our) modern society. Moreover, these are the values that we all swear by, but as it often happens – according to need and opportunity. But what happens when we find ourselves on the wrong side of the same opportunity? Do we have the courage and endurance to continue the fight or will we continue to anonymously embrace the law of the strongest?

…And do you have children, are you married? Listen, who is your father? This job requires your availability and travel.


From the preface by

Valentina Radoš


Mario Matokovic – Biography






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