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Installation "K 19" by Zlatko Kopljar - Inscription of an Ethical Concept in Space

Nataša Lah   ORCID icon ; Department of History of Art, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Rijeka, Croatia

Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (1 MB) str. 399-408 preuzimanja: 406* citiraj
APA 6th Edition
Lah, N. (2014). Instalacija "K 19" Zlatka Kopljara - upis etičkog koncepta u prostor. Ars Adriatica, (4), 399-408. Preuzeto s
MLA 8th Edition
Lah, Nataša. "Instalacija "K 19" Zlatka Kopljara - upis etičkog koncepta u prostor." Ars Adriatica, vol. , br. 4, 2014, str. 399-408. Citirano 29.11.2020.
Chicago 17th Edition
Lah, Nataša. "Instalacija "K 19" Zlatka Kopljara - upis etičkog koncepta u prostor." Ars Adriatica , br. 4 (2014): 399-408.
Lah, N. (2014). 'Instalacija "K 19" Zlatka Kopljara - upis etičkog koncepta u prostor', Ars Adriatica, (4), str. 399-408. Preuzeto s: (Datum pristupa: 29.11.2020.)
Lah N. Instalacija "K 19" Zlatka Kopljara - upis etičkog koncepta u prostor. Ars Adriatica [Internet]. 2014 [pristupljeno 29.11.2020.];(4):399-408. Dostupno na:
N. Lah, "Instalacija "K 19" Zlatka Kopljara - upis etičkog koncepta u prostor", Ars Adriatica, vol., br. 4, str. 399-408, 2014. [Online]. Dostupno na: [Citirano: 29.11.2020.]

The recently-created spatial installation K 19 by visual artist Zlatko Kopljar, set up in downtown Zagreb, is directed through its meaning and content towards the remembrance of Holocaust victims. The installation consists of five sculptures, which are made from the bricks originally used to build the walls of the concentration camp at Jasenovac and then re-used for the construction of post-war houses. These same bricks have now been used to create the K 19 sculptures, which have been placed on bases created from standardized Euro-pallets used in construction. Laid into horizontal courses, the bricks form vertical blocks with irregular upper surfaces, and, at the same time, place fragments of a fictitious whole in a semi-circular spatial ring of a monument-like character. The nature of the material and its description, therefore, act as signifiers for the installation K 19, while its interpretation acquired a defined field of signification, a language of context, or, simply put, a discourse. The non-material became a constituent part of the installation by being added through the symbolization inherent in its description and resulted in a “reality remade”, which sprang from the fragile foundations of an “indeterminate denotation and representation-as” with regard to the origin of its material (bricks from Jasenovac and Euro-pallets). The vulnerability of that which is represented draws its strength (growing or healing itself) from a reversible movement being performed by the meaning and content of this artwork which simultaneously travels from present time towards history and from history towards the present.

The depiction of a memory of a concentration camp, in the symbolic context of the artwork under discussion, is a process related to a kind of documentation, but it also acts as a testimony achieved through narrative without the possibility of showing the expressed narrative itself. Starting with the observation that the installation K 19 documents a specific historical situation possessing an unrepresentable narrative, the aim of the article is to demonstrate that this does not betray the nature of the medium chosen for this artwork. The article’s theory-based argument is rooted in a number of different interpretative strategies which study the anchoring of cultural representations in artworks by considering them as ethical concepts which are inscribed in a space. Such an inscription in space, having found a newly-created habitat, generates geographical categories from the past which are laden with moral narratives as their points of origin. Through this, the connection between cognitive mapping and contemporary art functions as a link between artistic practices and moral geography based on the fact that certain people, things and practices belong in certain spaces, places and landscapes, and not in others. Moral geography, therefore, obliges us to understand and theorize interrelationships between geographical, social and cultural classes. In this sense, installation K 19 does indeed render a “re-use” of the past actual, and re-contextualizes heritage through the choice of its material (bricks from Jasenovac) and in doing so finds reason and meaning for archaeology in the cultural space of a post-war “prosaic age” when people (at least in this case) used things out of existential necessity and not out of the desire to render the near past symbolical. In that respect the installation K 19 uses the heritage of a collective memory of the event, to which it refers in order to create a new conceptual synonym, and through its mourning character acquires not only the past but the spirit of the new age too. In order to recognize the artist’s individual experience of objectifying mnemopoetic perspectivism (in other words, Kopljar’s mnemopoetic approach to the creation of installation K 19) through the reversible signifying process, in the collective experience of the conceptualization of heritage, one requires intersubjective representations. This is because art and its own mnemopoetic perspectivism is rooted in collective thought while memory restores the integrity to the “commonplace ability to think and remember”. Through this, thought and memory represent our rootedness in time which, unlike moral geographies, is confirmed through a communion with “mobile people” who do not need to cohabit with us in the same space nor be provided with the same ideological patterns that became entrenched as customs inside the narrow territorial and mental boundaries of sedentary cultures. In this sense, it is possible to answer the question about the encounter between subjective and collective memory in an artwork only in a remade reality of an interpretation, that is, in a “secondary discourse of commentary” which opens up a new context for the understanding of the old world. By encouraging the meeting between “the seen and the read” as the meeting between “the visible and the expressible”, the article points to the effects of fictionalization and theatricalization which are present in this installation. Without corrupting testimonial aspects of a (bygone) reality, they help it become manifest in communication with the world. The article’s conclusion congratulates the artist’s mnemopoetic strategies and highlights the encounter of the installation with the world, together with its fictitious elements (the reversible narrative of its content) and theatricalization, as an inscription of an ethical concept in space, and, by this, encourages the encounter between “the seen and the read”, and between “the visible and the expressible”, as if it were possible still.

Ključne riječi
Zlatko Kopljar; installation "K 19"; representation of the unrepresentable; mnemopoetic perspectivism; contingencies of heritage; cognitive mapping; moral geography; intersubjective representation

Hrčak ID: 130934



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