International Biennial of Contemporary Art Ljubljana,
23 June - 24 September 2000
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Cankarjev Dom
M1 & M2
Nayia Frangouli & Yane Calovski
  *1971, lives in London / *1973, lives in Philadelphia

Common Denominator, 2000, installation and action

The artistic duo Frangouli/Calovski present the Common Denominator project, which is composed of two independent autonomous parts. The first is a CD compilation of Macedonian and Greek music with distinct nationalistic and political overtones, while the second is a stand with fresh fruit (apples and oranges) which during the exhibition is handed out to visitors. The work deals with different perceptions of the individual national cultures, while at the same time, it attempts to intone the collective European psyche. Macedonia and Greece share the same history and a great deal of unresolved common problems connected with cultural, religious and linguistic differences. Frangouli and Calovski say that the two nations are extremely mistrustful and even paranoid of each other. The artists wonder whether there exists a way of purging oneself of these destructive emotions which capture us within our own fears. In her essays on the issues of nation, nationality, origin and the future of national ideas, Julia Kristeva concludes that the cult of "roots worshipping" is based on the emotion of "hatred" towards others and oneself at the same time. In the situation of permanent violence, every individual loses hope in individual abilities and retreat to his or her own world. According to Kristev, facing "hatred" in this position can lead to two pairs of opposite extremes in accepting one's own culture and nation: glorification and accusation on one hand and the sense of a need for explicit manifestation and complete denial thereof. On the basis of a personal experience of this phenomenon, the artists conclude that in reality, it is "refugees" who, through the agony of having to leave their home, get to know differences and similarities or the meeting points of shared memories. A good example of this is Macedonian and Greek poems, because when "purified" of national and political connotations enforced on them by the lyrics, they together turn into "pleasant tunes" from the southern Balkans. Arranged and mixed in this way, they are "nothing but" music that can no longer strike a passionate chord. By blending music and by handing out apples and oranges, the artists wish to emphasise the impossibility of giving a concrete form to an opinion without changing the frame of reference. Great compassion and attention - and the sensuality of the simple although desirable smooth surface of fresh fruit - is what Nayia and Yane wish to offer us.

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