With the exhibition In Becoming, Maja Hodošček – who is mainly concerned with social issues in her practice and especially with the concepts of community, solidarity and connection in her most recent work with high school students – this time focuses on neoliberal subjectivity and emotional work. With reference to flexible entities, which internalise the imperatives of neoliberalism, which must have the capacity to transform themselves as well as function effectively and competitively and constantly work on themselves to improve further to become “entrepreneurs of their own selves” while their greatest project becomes their own self, as well as with reference to emotional work, when emotions have also become a marketable commodity and the growing demand for managing emotions has significantly changed working conditions especially in the public sector, her focus on the logic of neoliberalism continues. With the difference that instead of creating temporary communities, equality and collective action (as antipodes to the heightened individualism of the present times), she creates a situation in which she poses (and in which she exposes) the individual by leaving him entirely up to himself.
In the new video works, in which Hodošček explores what happens when individuals are challenged to perform individually for hours without a script simply by being directed to interact with the camera in front of them, the subject’s utterances and emotional states that develop through the time-consuming recording process are examined. The starting point of the experiment that Hodošček conducted in collaboration with actors lies in her research of the first cases of the intertwining of the economic and the psychological spheres, connecting corporations with psychologists in the 1950s, when the circumstances in which individuals can best identify with their work and when they are most effective at work began to be explored more intensively, while psychological discourse was soon introduced into the field of work and focused on the individual, emotions and relationships. The exhibition In Becoming consists of four video works. They all feature the same scene, an empty space with a black curtain, a chair and a camera, shooting non-stop, with the same set of events developing in all of them, differing only in intensity. The protagonist soon begins to talk mainly about himself, often develops a pronounced affectivity and a kind of failed self-representation occurs. The same effect in all works, namely, the outlining of the individual’s self-image, his expectations and fears, especially in relation to his work and social status, the questioning of himself whether he is up to what is expected, what he needs to improve, perfect, change, the escalating feelings of being caught, of discomfort and anxiety, and the failed intention to selectively show only the desired and ordered conception of himself (the mask slips out of control in places, the self-censorship also loosens completely), is achieved by the artist through several moments. The actor is alone, his task is to be in front of the camera for several hours, without any text and any kind of guidance, what he stages is entirely up to him, and above all, whatever he chooses and utters, he receives no response. By creating such situations in which the space – with a camera constantly observing and consolidating its position of power from moment to moment (indeed, a female protagonist in one of the videos wonders who is in control), and with the curtain that delineates – sooner appears as a panopticon rather than a stage, a space of incessant surveillance, and with the pronounced non-reciprocity marked by the protagonist remaining unresponsive throughout his performance, the construction of himself and his role, Hodošček creates for her subjects an increasingly traumatic situation of insecurity, helplessness, physical and mental exhaustion, and loss of self-control. What we have before us is an intense atmosphere of emotional states that are an obvious result of the set-up situation and not of a constantly controlled play (which one might think because the protagonists are actors), a sharpened portrayal of the human need to interact with others, and an interweaving of both psychological and social aspects, as the conditions of life in contemporary neoliberal societies are outlined by the subjects’ utterances.
The exhibition In Becoming allows for numerous readings, identification as well as reflection on one’s position in society and “playing” of social roles, on the contemporaneity of self-regulating individuals who, by working on themselves, constantly strive to maximize their human capital in all areas, including emotional (in order to achieve emotional norms in many fields of work), on the contemporaneity of individual responsibility for everything that happens to a person, even if it is the responsibility of ideology and its structures, and the redirection of social criticism to self-criticism (including through the proliferation of self-help and self-actualisation manuals), while at the same time also reflecting on ubiquitous and universal control.
Maja Hodošček (1984) is an author of video works, installations, initiates workshops, and curates exhibitions. She finished her MA at the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem, NL. Her work was shown widely on international group exhibitions such as Symptoms of the Future, Out of Sight, Antwerp, Hidden Curriculum, tranzit.sk, Bratislava; Silence is Deafness Here, Gallery Podroom, Belgrade; Beyond the Globe, Moderna galerija, Ljubljana, South by South East, Guangdong Times Museum, China; Pipe Dream, Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Travelling Communiqué, Museum of Yugoslav History, Belgrade. She presented her work on solo exhibitions in KGLU – Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti, Slovenj Gradec, Dom omladine, Belgrade, Museum of Contemporary Art – MSUM, Ljubljana, Miroslav Kraljević Gallery, Zagreb, ŠKUC Gallery Ljubljana, Gallery Gregor Podnar, Ljubljana, etc. In 2021 she received regional recognition for artistic achievements, in 2020 the national recognition Rihard Jakopič for artistic achievements, and in 2010 she won OHO Award. She was an artist in residence in Tabakalera – International Centre for Contemporary Culture in San Sebastian (2019) and ISCP New York (2010).
Actors: Lina Akif, Marga Altolaguirre, Iñigo Azpitarte, Timotej Novaković
Production: Tabakalera – International Centre for Contemporary Culture (Donostia) in Zavod Celeia – Center sodobnih umetnosti Celje
Supported by: Mestna občina Celje
Exhibition design: Timotej Jevšenak, Maja Hodošček
Curator: Irena Čerčnik
Text: Irena Čerčnik