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Davide Grassi 02-04, Selected Works

by Bojana Kunst, Igor Spanjol, Ana Buigues, and Antonio Caronia
Aksioma, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2004
24 pp., illus. b/w. $No charge

Reviewed by Stefaan Van Ryssen
Hogeschool Gent
Jan Delvinlaan 115, 9000 Gent, Belgium


Davide Grassi is a Slovenian-Italian artist based in cultural hotbed Ljubljana, where he leads Aksioma——Institute for Contemporary Arts, a non-profit cultural institution which is interested in projects that take advantage of the new technologies in order to investigate and discuss the structures of modern society. His artistic work has a strong social connotation and is characterized by an inter-media approach. He is the author of numerous videos, performances, installations, documentaries, and new media works. In this catalogue, Aksioma presents five recent works of Davide Grassi. It is an excellent introduction by experts who are close to the artist and have first-hand knowledge of the context of his oeuvre.

"DemoKino", for example, is an interactive voting movie exploring the illusions of democracy and public opinion. As stated:

"’DemoKino’ is a virtual parliament that through topical film parables provides the voters (participants) with the opportunity to decide on issues that are, paradoxically, becoming the essence of modern politics: the questions of life. The project questions not only the utopia of contemporary virtual forum that is supposed to open ways for a more direct and influential participation but also points out a much deeper problem of modern democracy (virtual as well). With its reduced narrativeness——the story is built on the "pro and contra" inner dialogues of the protagonist who is led around his home in a parliamentary kind of way by the "voters", based on their decisions——Demokino shows how these ethical dilemmas of modern life suddenly become the core of our political participation." (http://www.demokino.net)

In a very interesting short essay Bojana Kunst of the University of Ljubljana analyses the semiotic and political layers of this anti-entertainment streaming event.

"Ballettikka RealVideo Internettikka" is a collaborative project with Igor Stromajer and Brane Zorman in which the Chechen terrorist act in the Dubrovka Theatre in Moscow in October 2002 is combined with images of an earlier project by Strojmajer and Zorman where they performed an illegal wireless ballet in the Bolshoi Theatre.

"Trst je Nostra!" (Trieste is ours!) is a forty second video clip in which Grassi reveals the codes of the city's multi-cultural political reality. The rapidly-edited view of the camera, oversaturated with content, moves from architecture and cars to provocative graffiti and menacing political messages.

"Problemarket" is another collaboration with Stromajer (see review at
http://mitpress2.mit.edu/e-journals/Leonardo/reviews/apr2003/Proble_ryssen.html). Ana Buigues, who wrote a doctoral dissertation on Grassi's accomplice Stromajer, situates the project in an anti-capitalist and anti-consumerist tradition.

"MachinaZOIS" is the first Electromechanical Patron that financially helps artists to produce their work. It's a pinball machine whose theme is "strategies of fundraising for contemporary artistic productions". The player doesn't have to go through a real ordeal of applications, administrative and bureaucratic procedures and flirtations with members of the expert committee, but uses arcade skills and strategies to grab the prize: The player who gets the highest score, wins the jackpot. The machine is named after Ziga Zois, a rich eighteenth century Slovenian patron.




Updated 1st September 2004

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