Irwin group (NSK): Like to Like/Mount Triglav
The Irwin group was formed in the frame of the movement Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) in the beginning of the 1980s. The early Irwinistic mannerist andeclectic paintings illuminated iconographically national-socialistic arts, socialist-realism and avant-garde (above all Kazimir Malevich). They established a supervisory painting gesture in the traumatic fissure between the large totalitarian projects of the twentieth century and the crisis of modernism in the 1970s and 1980s. These paradoxical connections are weak points, symptoms of a political demonstration of reality - the ideological as phantasm.
The works of the Irwin group are signs, with which the group destroys the symbolic power of the totalitarian discourse: the projection of reality. In regards to real and self-management socialism their activity still appears as an excess/symptom - graphic (painting) and declarative (manifesto) speech which provoke the existing system of political and artistic values, at which the trauma is pulled into a game as uninterpretive or hyperinterpretive. Retro-garde action is not avant-garde action because it uses the dead languages of arts and the dead languages of culture and politics (languages of avant-garde arts and the totalitarian system). With them are references to the archive of historically deleted or exploited traces, artistic, ethical and political excesses, traumas, symbols, expressions and performances; thus making their work anti-utopian.
The series of works Like to Like: Irwin - OHO (2004) was made as the inverse of the status of retro-avant-garde artists. From the postmodern repudiation of avant-garde/neo-avant-garde Irwin group directed itself towards the establishment of its own ’modern or avant-garde traditions’ in the frame of its national culture. Suprematism, nazi-art/culture and soc-realism were for the production of Irwin group dead signs of politics and arts. In contrast, the turn toward making images of OHO’s anti-painterly and process protoconceptual events was an entirely different act - the act of appropriation which adopted some key artistic acts from the end of modernism, was executed in the traditional visual media and implemented as a culturally rooted fetish. A fetish is an ‘object’ of fascination. Triglav as an object of fascination is a fetish. On the other side, the visual or performative (2004) recycling or rather, photographic happening Mount Triglav wasn’t only an act of self-historicization by the Irwin group. It also meant the grotesque provoking of one of the fundamental political suppositions of identifying politics in transitional, nationally homogeneous countries which were founded upon the disintegration of the second Yugoslavia. And signified the demands for national reconciliation: all that is Slovene - our - art and culture.