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P74 Gallery

Mark Požlep: Blueprint For Revolution

8 – 30 November 2017
P74 Gallery, Trg Prekomorskih brigad 1, Ljubljana

You are cordially invited to the opening of the exhibition “Blueprint For Revolution” by Mark Požlep on Wednesday, 8 November 2017 at 19.00 at the P74 Gallery in Ljubljana.

Mark Požlep returns to the scene of the crime. Still fresh and full of impressions after his two-month New York adventure (read: artistic residency) that he earned as the recipient of the OHO Group Award for Young Visual Artists in 2016. Požlep received the award for his project Stranger than paradise (Bolj nenavadno od raja), which documents a concert tour to seven retirement homes throughout the republics of the former common country of Yugoslavia. For the residents in these homes, he prepared a mix of Yugo hit songs from the 1950s and 60s. Stranger than paradise is a story about human relations, fate and the generations that created the new common country and decades later also lived through its sad collapse.

The new project, which he conceived and executed during his residency in the US, is called Blueprint for Revolution. With his canoe, he paddled around the island of Manhattan, the most densely populated district of New York, which is surrounded by the Hudson, East and Harlem rivers. Manhattan is the historical birth place of New York and is regarded as the cultural, financial and media capital of the world. Požlep’s decision to sail around it by making a circle around the world in miniature opens the viewer to a number of interpretations: from the romantic dimension of discoveries and new opportunities, to the topic of conquest and occupation, of surival. As a vessel, the canoe is closely connected to the history of the island, which other elements of the exhibition further corroborate. Along with a video that documents the journey with the panorama of rivers, bridges and characteristic architectural landscapes, Požlep outlines a basic map of the island with the inscription “mana hatta”. During his residency, he sought out the descendants of the original inhabitants of Manhattan and involved them in a discussion. The island’s original inhabitants were the Ramapough Lunaape or the Lenape Indians, who gave the island its name. The name Manhattan comes from the word “manna-hata”, which in the language of the Lenape means an island of many hills. In New York, the Ramapoughs are still not officially recognised as an Indian nation. The act of sailing with a canoe repeats the method of travel that the natives used. Of course, today’s perspective of the island shows a completely different image than that which existed when the first Europeans arrived.
The divide between reality and fiction is probably most beautifully presented by the series of Pozlep’s drawings. They illustrate the scenes from the popular series of novels by Karl May, which arise from his imaginary world and reinforce the romantic and racist motives of the superior white. The illustrations of the scenes from the story of Winnetou are made with the same paper with the print of the map of the island, the images are accompanied by short statements. Quotes such as “this is my country” and “now I will tell you where the gold is” further emphasize the thin line between reality and fiction.
The diverse, one could also even say chance, elements that Mark Požlep selected throughout the process of his journey make up a story that primarily reflects the history of the island, the erasure of its original inhabitants and their position today: Who and what are Indians? How do they see their past, present and future?
Mark Požlep raises the question of the individual’s perspective and one’s ability to see and understand what is directly in front of one’s eyes.

Mark Požlep (1981, Celje) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana under professor Herman Gvardjančič and finished his post-graduated studies with professor Srečo Dragan. He continued his studies on the transmedia program at LUCA School of Arts in Brussels. He has presented his work in numerous group and solo exhibitions at home and abroad, among them, in Ljubljana, Maribor, Celje, Ribnica, Venice, Padua, Belfast, Rijeka, Trieste, Marseille. He has participated in artistic residencies in Israel, France and Northern Ireland. Mark Požlep is also the recipient of many awards, including the student Prešeren Award, the Golden Bird Award, the Essl Award and the OHO Group Award for Young Visual Artists.