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P74 Gallery

Veli & Amos: Flipper is a dolphin

23 December 2014 – 14 January 2015
P74 Gallery, Trg Prekomorskih brigad 1, Ljubljana


Veli & Amos, Transparent sea (video still), 2014

The artistic duo Veli & Amos do not restrict their art work in space and time. That’s to say that they are constantly creating, in every environment available to them in every given moment. They exploit the hidden potential of everyday life such as various coincidences, restrictions, social-political conditions. They infuse their own experience of the world around them into artistic statements that, first and foremost, represent their perspective on the state of society. They do so without commenting, without criticising, without moralising. They merely create “pictures” or as they say, “share their view” with others. Thus when Veli & Amos release their highly communicative artistic statements into public space, the duo return them precisely there, to the place where they were found. Veli & Amos play with locations and overturn contexts.

The duo’s newest exhibition is a combination of many of their previous art projects, mostly of two of them: the project Billboard and the project Let’s Save the Whales International, particularly transparent attempts to deal with discovering the truth of public space. Of course that truth remains (only) on the level of subjective judgement and even if they legitimately quite courageously and outspokenly take the right to articulate their views, they have never and never do wish to force that truth on anyone. In the project Let’s Save the Whales International we thus find the stereotypical contemporary theme of the hypocrisy of social activism, characteristic of pop stars who under the pretext of saving the world go around promoting themselves. Here we find everything from banners to graffiti. Likewise, the project Billboard deals with the idea of self-promotion, only here it is through the medium of advertising. The artists offer their advertising space to potential self-promoters. And of course, while doing so, they don’t forget to advertise themselves. Neither do they forget to show the hypocrisy in that the ultimate goal of renting out each advertising space, even theirs, is to make a profit. And how the ultimate goal of each advertiser is above all self-promotion, even should one’s ad have a high moral, ethical or similar other profound message about saving the world.

As with previous projects of Veli & Amos, the exhibition is thus a series of scenarios without the final theatrical suspense or catharsis that would liberate the viewer and thus purposely leave the viewer alone in one’s own thoughts. This is also the allure and meaning of their works, since by this move their ideas sink more strongly into the consciousness of the individual. In these inconsistencies fluctuates not only all of their art but also their lives. It’s apparent in their enthusiasm for graffiti on moving trains, for films where they travel and never arrive at the destination that they’re looking for, for graffiti that they don’t save but paint over, for the fluid impermanence of life, in short, for all that is dynamic, moving and in motion.

And precisely this absence of stability and finality of their works gives meaning to their transparent view on the state of society. For the essence is in the idea not in the final product, in that above all the spirit of this idea keeps expanding, moving, travelling; it should never stop and should continue to develop further. And if it ever happened that someone might be tempted to in some way freeze or save the duo’s works or try to finish them, it would take away the spirit of the journey. Just as some anonymous person took the meaning from Banksy’s renowned graffito on the Israeli-Palestinian wall when he cut it out and saved it, in order to sell it to a potential collector of graffiti who wanted to hold on to it for himself, forever. With this act the graffito lost its purpose and its loyal everyday audience, its ability to communicate. Or perhaps not? Perhaps it’s all just part of a bigger game and manipulation?

Barbara Sterle Vurnik

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The programme of the P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E. Institute is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and by the Municipality of Ljubljana, Department for Culture.