Angels & Discounts
3–26 November 2021
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana
Part of U30+ production programme for supporting young artists
Angels & Discounts is an ode to consumerism and an elegy to unfulfilled dreams and lost ideals. It talks about the love-hate attitude to consumerist and popular culture and glorifies its charm and its power of hypnotising the masses, while at the same time offering a reflection on the transience of society’s collective stream of thought. It is a narrative about the search for free choice in the numb somnolence of supermarket aisles and shelves with tinned peas and preserved compotes.
In the style of illuminated billboards, the canvases tell us how to live properly, how to become a better new me and how to finally catch one’s dreams. How to live the American dream. But the messages on them are directed back to the all-powerful entity of dreams and talk about the consequences and wounds that they can cause – about the present time in which we have become exhausted from chasing dreams; in which we are trying to be sceptical and cynical, but illusions and desires prove to be more powerful than reality. Deep in our own and the collective consciousness, we are still faithful followers of the golden dreams about a better tomorrow, caught in our striving towards the green light of potentiality.
As a contemporary horn of plenty, a shopping cart with its piled-up articles promises us a better, clearer and optimistic future. But the latter is emptied together with the shopping cart when we place the articles on the checkout conveyor belt and its magic disappears until the next buyer of dreams uses it. The magic artefact offers instantaneous happiness, for it functions as a black hole: we place in it other people’s slogans and promises of happiness, which, no matter how devotedly we fill it, always disappear – all until the next purchase.
During our browsing through the store of dreams, we are accompanied by the vaporvawe music, which is occasionally interrupted by fictive store announcements. Through them, the artist transforms her visual language into a phonaesthetic experience of reflections based on her attitude to contemporary consumerist culture.
Angels & Discounts is a retort to the current pop nihilism, the time and space in which the idea of what is entertaining is built on celebrating the banality of existence, meaningfulness without meaning, and in which values have been almost completely displaced by worth. Plastic, two-dimensional and direct works are cleansed of all unnecessary form to the point of taking the exhibition visitor to the backstage of the game of consumerism.
On the one hand, the works talk about the poetics of the American dream and romanticise an individual’s attitude to infinite capabilities, unlimited choice and immediate satisfaction, while, on the other, they offer an insight into the phantasms of mass-produced ideologies and marketing slogans. The exhibition is the artist’s personal story about reaching too highly for the stars, confronting what is given and searching for angels and discounts in the stores of dreams.
Iris Pokovec (1992) is a visual artist based in Ljubljana. She studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana, where she received her master’s degree in 2017 with her thesis Likeability and Buyability. Her practice is primarily based on classic painting and print-based media, with which she explores the communication tools of contemporary consumerism. In content, she deals especially with the relations between present-day consumer plastics, 21st-century marketing slogans and contemporary pop nihilism.
She has presented her work at solo exhibitions 37 Days of Christmas (MGLC, Ljubljana, 2020), Likeable and Buyable (Gallery, Ljubljana, 2018) and Sigmund Freud Collection Premiere (Zigutamve Project Space, Vienna (AT), 2018). She has also carried out several solo projects: New Year’s Resolutions2019, for which she was awarded a work grant by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, as part of which she conducted the survey How to Make Art Likeable and Buyable, The Research (2019) in Slovenia, which she then repeated in England under the same title as part of the Art Residency programme of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia in London. She has also participated and exhibited in several group projects and exhibitions at home and abroad: Gallery.Delivery: Live Love Laugh (Ljubljana, 2021), Waardeloos (PERIOD gallery space, Haarlem (NL), 2019), A Percentage for Art (Buy Art Campaign, 2018), Made in China: Authentic Slovenian Art in Belgium (WARP, Sint-Niklaas (BE), 2018), Made in China: Goods and Services (Spike Berlin, Berlin (DE), 2018).
Author: Iris Pokovec
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2021
the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana
Text: Iris Pokovec
Editing: Matej Tomažin
Music: Zadig The Jasp – Stroll in the mall and Last moments after 1997