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Oral/Anal/Digital, Dejan Grba

I’ve never been closer
I’ve tried to understand
that certain feeling
carved by another’s hand
Heaven 17, Temptation.


Packed within the ‘so close and yet so far away’ idiom, temptation is one of the key strategies of (pop) culture which exploits the assumption that joy requires some special ingredient whose ultimate lacking sustains the desire. Slavica Panic deconstructs this mystifying algorithm by combining trivial elements into complex structures whose ambivalences lead the viewer toward disillusioning experience. In drawings, objects and digital images, Slavica Panić problematizes the notoriously declarative and dissolute character of the collage technique. She takes her initial visuals from the mass‑media, modifies them discreetly and assembles them into mute, self‑amused compositions that refuse or are at least unconcerned to mean anything in particular. Although it is difficult not to perceive something deeply meaningful in them, after careful observation their formal and symbolic intricacy turns out to be primarily the result of our projections. Their charm and appeal arise from the carefully conceptualized and subtly rendered conflict between desire and pleasure, and – which can be regarded as Panić’s specific motif – from the joy of sudden discovering of sexuality, while the hermetic and decorative style mask her bright, oxymoronic humor that fuses the childish diminutives (‘bunnies’, ‘doggies’, etc.) with the slick pornographic euphemisms such as ‘golden shower’ or ‘brown sugar’. Such approach indicates a highly profiled social consciousness, but in shelving explicit thematization and interpretation she withholds the emancipated reserve towards language games and suggests her fascination with action which is mystified by culture while Slavica Panić rehabilitates it by turning the manual practice into a perversion of fine art that shifts pleasure from the regular psychoanalytic oral‑anal‑genital succession towards digital or finger‑related. Her works are made through a long sequence of cautiously prepared and fastidiously executed operations whose slight, thoughtfully uncorrected manual errors ‘thwart’ artistic tradition in which dexterity is usually fetishized. In Panic’s works, it functions as a paradoxal threat to their own material perfection, which disallows passive consumption and requires intuitive self‑apprehension as a catalyst for their true appreciation. At the ambivalent edge between the prosaic (genetically tyrannized corporeality) and the sublime (abstract visuals), the reflexive and visual levels of Slavica Panić’s works are entwined by mutual exclusion thus discrediting the exclusivity of western reasoning and indirectly diagnosing the prevailing trend of commoditization in which art, no matter how subversive, fails to pass the blue horizon of capital while the danger itself becomes far more important.

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