"You are nothing, you are only a relation to others, and you are, what you are only by this relation."
Sören Kierkegaard, Either/Or
On the first sight: nothing but drawings. But a closer look on the art of Jadranka Kosorcic reveals clearly the very conceptional essence of her works. In her art the drawings are portraits at the very end of a process concluded by means of reflecting the actual relations and the forming of identity.
To begin with a short excursus: in modern philosophy the notion of forming identity showed a vivid development, starting probably with the deconstruction of the subject effectuated differently by Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud in the fields of sociology, philosophies and psychology. Briefly, the deconstruction lead from classical subjectivity to the discursive difference of "multiple identity" made popular by the philosopher Wolfgang Welsch, the artist Cindy Sherman or the pop star Madonna. Brian Holmes, an American cultural critic, confirmed the idea of "multiple identity" in a positive way by claiming its affirmative character: "multiple identity" refers to an economical system determined by a mobile "just-in-time production" which claims flexible employment structures and thus "multiple identities". "Multiple identity" fits perfectly in the standards of global neo-liberalism.
The art of Jadranka Kosorcic deals exactly with the very tension of the notion. So, finally, a short description of her aesthetical approach: First of all, by means of advertisement for example, she is looking for potential models: "Artist is looking for people m/f willing to pose for a portrait. Time spent 1-3 hours. Send photo to ". By the photos the artist decides who suits in her strategy. She does only take people with whom she is able to establish a special connection in terms of identification. Once she found a person, they meet, talk and communicate while Jadranka Kosorcic is taking a portrait.
The resulting artefacts make think of comics or caricatures but as well of artistic (expressive) outlines. The portraits are situated consciously somewhere between the clean, faceless surface of a wanted photo and the sensible, amateur drawing of a loved face. It’s exactly the broad spectre, containing the possibility of a collapse, which shows the instability of the globalized post-modernity: its incorporation in a surface or a thread, in a normative or intimate-intensive way. The portraits are presented in series underlining their process-related aspect of forming identity, which is never achieved completely. The artist focuses the different promises of role models or antitypes. She claims to discharge herself of all these types and roles. She doesn’t want to copy or overbid the chosen models, but find a territory in the very heart of the confrontation, where both beings are fold one into another. The intersection allows creating a self-portrait in the reflection of the other, a self-portrait generated by identification which doesn’t emerge from classical identity but from the strategy of approach leading finally to the very notion of "in-between" (JK). The collective "in-between" of I and I, of model and artist, reveals the interim limits as well as the interim options of identification and personality. If you want: this is all about clever "interim solutions", not only in relation to aesthetics but also in relation to sense.
by Raimar Stange
Jadranka Kosorcic’s pared-down portraits seek a clear connection and an unblocked, uncompromised view of another human being. "Before you fall in love you see someone so much more clearly, before it gets complicated," she told me. "You have a clear sense of the strongest part of that person." More on this in a moment.
Andy Warhol’s 13 Most Wanted was a 20-foot square portrait of the FBI’s most wanted criminals created for the New York State Pavillion at the 1964 World’s Fair. It was painted over in silver paint before the fair even opened, and there’s no need to argue its censorship too hard. Giant portraits of robbers, rapists and murderers don’t obviously fit with a jamboree of global goodness, but Warhol’s intentions were sincere. The photos that formed the basis for work were distributed to local authorities and pasted up for the public in the hopes that the bad men would be recognized, and Warhol’s reproduction of the mugshots serves as a celebration of the sort of behavior that the FBI, and the artist, encouraged. Said behavior: it pays to examine people as closely as possible, to be attentive to what their physical demeanor reveals about them. There is only a hair’s difference in appearance between someone who is good and someone who is bad, and—beyond the career-long exploration of the nature of celebrity that informed Warhol’s work and certainly plays a part here—this little-discussed work acts as a loving tribute to humankind’s ability to find that difference, to see tiny nuance, and benefit, by looking into someone’s eyes.
Today. Business jargon is an hilarious world, and ‘networking’ is its most wonderful word. Networking is not friendship, not about the heart at all. It is about the efficient and ruthless establishment of ties, surface connections, to improve business. At conferences, happy hours and corporate retreats, businessmen swim around, encircling one another, latching on to one another, building trust and making promises that will quickly make their business bigger, and therefore better. Networking is construction, like building a skyscraper. ‘Social networking’ is a construction of the Internet age, born on LISTSERV, AOL and CompuServe in the ’80s, reared on message boards in the ’90s, and seasoned to maturity with Friendster, MySpace and Facebook in the new millennium. Social networking is friendship reduced to a collection of connections, building a web of human beings to which you are formally aligned whom you can proudly display. It is tribalism with the rules of business: make it quick, make it tight, keep it growing. Hundreds of millions of people believe in the virtues of this practice.
This style of friendship tempts its users into believing that they have made a connection, yet they can never see these friends. They see their hobbies, they see their totems, they see their mottoes, but they’ll never see their essence. In the business world this is ideal, since the job will probably get done better without it. In the realm of human friendship, a sense of another’s essence is the most precious state you can reach. Jadranka Kosorcic confronts her subjects in as clinical and direct a means as possible: face to face. If there’s chemistry, a few times out of ten she says, she’ll paint the portrait. And if there’s not, there’s no point.
The artist uses the word "sensible" to describe her approach, a way of describing the act of feeling a connection or not feeling a connection, the difference between finishing and abandoning a sitting. Her life is intuitive, not business or a business, and for this artist a strong, true connection is too powerful to be spread like butter on toast, thin and even. Jadranka Kosorcic’s stark, reduced portraits ignore the meeting points we’ve decided we need in this age of acceleration and efficiency, that sort of friendship that only offers quick relief, and disintegrates to the touch.
Back to clarity, and back to strength. Kosorcic’s ambitions in her practice may appear humble, or easy to explain, but the realization and revelation of "a clear sense of the strongest part of [a] person" is not to be taken lightly. With each portrait the artist completes, another true portrait of strength is logged, and as this body of work grows an army and a catalogue grows too. Viewers can take their own strength in the knowledge that all these people exist around them, and they may refer to them on their journey to find the strongest part of others, and of themselves.
by William Pym
Jadranka Kosorcic’s spare and vital drawing practice operates at a curious, difficult-todefine distance from reality. Her real-life, realtime charcoal portraits of people pull one in different responsive directions: between the direct human encounter and a linear authorial dimension somewhat removed from the here and now. They describe elements of our day-to-day scrutiny of one another through a reductive graphic language redolent, perhaps, to that of a Picasso or Hockney drawing, or even the instructionally simplistic plates of a ‘how-to’ manual. The traditional job of the portrait – to capture a ‘likeness’ of the sitter – becomes a set of questions concerning identity and representation in Kosorcic’s distinctive handwriting. For the Croatian-born artist acknowledges, through her set up and execution of the human image, the limits imposed by the history of her chosen mode and its status within the wider technological flow of information.
For several years now Kosorcic has been working on what she calls her ‘Blind Date’ series: an ever-expanding set of ‘ordinary’ characters drawn from life. Each institutional slice of the project (from Artothek in Munich to The Wharf Road Project, London with David Risley and V22) has so far been defined by a subtly shifting set of rules. The actual relationship between artist and sitter is only ever as long as it takes to complete each image. Participants are openly recruited: invited to pose, for one to three hours, through different advertorial strategies – from the flyer to the ‘free ad’. Interested parties are asked, like the prospective candidates for a date, to submit a photograph (nothing else) from which Kosorcic then makes an intuitive decision about whether or not to draw them. Her visual selection is not, she assures, informed by the desire to represent particular people or social groups, but the elusive notion of a connection – if and how this might emerge through the experience. And it’s a process inevitably punctuated by failure, for whatever this alchemical state is that exists between persons, it cannot be manufactured. Kosorcic is a ruthless editor, frequently discarding works, regardless of their appearance, when ‘it’, the "something fading in the very moment of its occurrence"1 just doesn’t materialise.
Post-Pop, the portrait has offered artists an interpretive space within which to explore definitions of reality – whether an Earthly sense of being present or a phenomenon mediated through technology. Following Warhol’s screenprinted icons of the cult of celebrity and Richter’s painterly vibration of the representational skin between subject and artwork, one can no longer take the source of a realistic human image for granted. Kosorcic, unlike the majority of contemporary artists using the portrait as a conceptual framework – Elizabeth Peyton, or Marlene Dumas, for example, who reinterpret the human experience as distorted by the (media) lens – does not appear at pains to situate the genre within the present technological landscape. She presumes, perhaps, that the viewer will bring their cultural points of reference to the image. With Kosorcic’s allusions to the dating process and passport-photo framing of subject, the screen, by default, is everywhere. Yet, encountering these line-drawn faces one after another often brings to mind the commuter experience over a random shuffle through JPEG’d tribe affiliates online.
For the current series, the corporate confines of Bloomberg have offered a tighter control group. During her brief residency, the practicalities of business have prevented Kosorcic from simply approaching employees she likes the look of to ask if they’ll sit for a portrait; she has had to wait patiently for them to respond to a mail-shot call. But this has proved something of a fur-covered hurdle, for such restrictions seem to suit the testsite premise of the project and the artist’s minimalist sensibility – a restless, almost scientific search for the least means required to induce maximal human response. Portraiture covers such a vast intellectual territory that one can understand the necessary imposition of limits. And in a world awash with endlessly reproducible imagery limits seem like a good thing. Looking back over the past incarnations of Kosorcic’s ‘Blind Date’ one can almost detect a rising sense of pressure, a sub-audible noise produced as the constraints (on materials, production, time) tighten around the project like a rock compressed – the sonic secrets of the human condition.
The formality of the scenario situates Kosorcic in the arena of the shrink or clairvoyant, and there is more than a whiff of the confessional about the meetings she describes, upon enquiry. She has been surprised by the histories of people moving through the environment – unlikely tales of Olympian ambitions at odds, perhaps, with corporate titles – like discovering the true pronunciation of a word you’ve had echoing around your head. Kosorcic’s ‘studio’ for the duration is some distance from the beating techno heart of this Ballardian behemoth of a building. It’s a quiet, rather characterless place for a meeting, perfect for her context-free studies of the human form. We discover the figure in pictorial limbo not in situ. Time has proven it’s often the human back stories that attract one to an image of another person – be they a religious icon, artist patron or the latest micro celebrity. However, Kosorcic is less concerned with her rendering of the individual than the experience of meeting them. While other contemporary artists tend to use the portrait as an historical construct through which to explore particular issues, highlighting the subjectivity of the person depicted as if evidence of an endemic cultural symptom (think Cindy Sherman, or Gillian Wearing), for Kosorcic, the process is the point. The anthropo-, socio- or psychological clues she may unearth are simply an inevitable part of this. Given the spare nature of Kosorcic’s deft handling of each individual, naturally one wonders what more there might be to learn about her Identikit people were the background and other details ‘filled in’?
The umbrella title for the series, ‘Blind Date’, is entirely fitting – the subtle shift person to person as one moves around the gallery describing, in part perhaps, the thrill of the chase. This is no love story, cartoon flick-book evocation of the compulsive anxiety that clouds the first meeting, but Kosorcic’s "Ever fixed mark(s)"2, charcoal under a thin adhesive skin, signify unwavering human commitment nonetheless. Though each member of this new family of works might be assimilated in a matter of minutes, Kosorcic’s intensity of making demands close scrutiny from the viewer. The bust portion of each person is imbued with a fragility that implies talking around the subject yet rendered with a directness of application that implies nailing it. Occasionally one is given associative leave from the linear leash to imagine a scrubby sense of something else, the vampiric ordeal implied by the artist’s capture softened here and there by a smudge. But Korsosic rarely uses tone as an atmospheric tool – except as a means of blocking in the darkness and covering up the odd mistake. The less one is given, it would seem, and the more one searches to find some evidence of ‘truth’. While any narrative details interpreted by the viewer will inevitably orbit the realms of fiction each image operates in the manner of a two-way mirror, revealing facets of the artist and ourselves: the vain preoccupation with others’ perception.
"When you’re trying to do a portrait of somebody else, you look very hard at them, searching to find what is there, trying to trace what has happened to the face. The result (sometimes) may be a kind of likeness, but usually it is a dead one, because the presence of the sitter and the tight focus of observation have inhibited your response," says John Berger in the seminal ‘The Shape of a Pocket’3. Kosorcic, however, circumvents the futility of this truism by challenging the portrait artist’s brief. Rather than try to substantiate the genre’s historical relevance to the present she has simply adapted the terms of the artist-sitter deal to suit her internal directive "to find things out". In actively managing the artificiality of the situation she effectively acknowledges that each exchange is a potentially corruptible set of circumstances peculiar to sitter, artist and setting. Of course it’s a conceit, attempting to convey anything more than a technical resemblance to the subject, but what happens when you strip away the messy human problems associated with the muse and the benefactor?
by Rebecca Geldard
1972 Split / Croatia
1997/98 MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London
1993-2001 art academy Munich, Prof. Jerry Zeniuk, Prof. Ben Willikens
1993-1994 art academy Nürnberg, Prof. Tim Scott, Prof Günther Dollhopf
2014 project promotion by the city of Munich
2011 trust for mutual understanding New York
2011 project grant by the city of Munich
2010 travel grant to New York City, Schwankhalle Bremen
2010 studio promotion by the city of Munich
2009 catalogue promotion by the Bezirk Oberbayern
2008 studio promotion by the Bavarian Stateministerium
2008 project promotion by the city of Munich
2008 project promotion by the city of Zagreb
2008/2010 catalogue promotion by LfA Förderbank Bayern
2008 catalogue promotion of the Bavarian Stateministerium
2007 project promotion by Steiner foundation (Steiner Stiftung)
1997/98 DAAD grant to London
1997 second prize at the competition for the Joseph and Anna Fassbender drawing prize
2015 Arlberg Hospiz
2014/15 Kamov residency, Rijeka
2011 ISCP studio program, New York
2010 CCA residency, Andratx-Mallorca
2014 "Blind Date Dubrovnik", Art Lazareti, Dubrovnik, curated by Slaven Tolj
2014 "Blind Date Philadelphia", ica@50, ICA Philadelphia, curated by Anthony Elms
2014 "Blind Date Rijeka", Extravagant age, MSU Rijeka, curated by Slaven Tolj
2011 "Blind Date New York", Jack Hanley Gallery, New York
2010 Galerie Bezirk Oberbayern, Munich, (catalogue)
2010 "Blind Date, Malmö", Cirkulationscentralen, Malmö
2009 "Comma 06"/ "Blind date with Bloomberg employees", Bloomberg space, London, curated by Sacha Craddock, (catalogue)
2008 "Blind Date Munich - London", The Wharf Road Project "If you cant close this door dont open it", cooperation with V22 and David Risley Gallery, London
2008 Extended Media Gallery, Zagreb, (catalogue)
2008 "Blind Date, Munich", Artothek, Munich
2003 "Blind Date Berlin", collection Essl, Klosterneuburg, (Edition)
1997 townhall gallery, Brühl
2015 "The Selfie Show: An Art Exhibition of Self-Portraits", Museum of New Art Detroit
2015 "20 Jahre Weltraum", Rathausgalerie München
2014 ARTMUC, Munich
2014 "White Columns 45th Anniversary Benefit Auction", White Columns, New York
2013 "White Columns 45th Anniversary Benefit Auction", White Columns, New York
2013 The culture of curation, Culturehall NYC
2013 "Andratx on Paper", CCA Andratx
2013 Polar Magazine, topic: "Sex", curated by Raimar Stange
2012 "Konterfrei" General Public, Berlin, curated by Raimar Stange
2012 "Home", Cul de Sac Gallery, London
2012 "White Columns 43th Anniversary Benefit Auction", White Columns, New York
2011 Nada art fair Miami, White Columns
2011 ISCP open studios, New York
2011 emerge art fair with White Columns, Washington DC
2011 "White Columns 42nd Anniversary Benefit Auction", White Columns, New York
2011 "HomeThoughts. The Sense of Belonging", Kunstraum Munich/ Cell studios, London
2010 CCA Gallery, Andratx-Mallorca
2010 "White Columns 41tst Anniversary Benefit Auction", White Columns, New York
2010 45. Zagrebacki Salon, Hdlu, Zagreb (catalogue)
2010 "Tanz auf dem Vulkan", Kunstarkaden, Munich
2010 THT-natjecaj, MSU Zagreb (museum for contemporary art, Zagreb)
2009 "Island of art festival", White Box, Munich
2009 Zoo art Fair, London with David Risley Gallery
2009 "18w",18m Galerie für Zahlenwerte, Berlin, (catalogue)
2009 "Weltraum – Jahresüberblick", Lothringer Kunsthalle, Munich (catalogue)
2009 "DAS HERR WINKELHUBER STIPENDIUM MÜNCHEN", Weltraum, Munich
2009 Art Rotterdam Art Fair with David Risley Gallery
2009 "Im Doppelpack", with Martina Salzberger, Weltraum,, Munich
2008 Zoo Art Fair, London with David Risley Gallery
2008 "Kunst am Wittelsbacherplatz", Munich (curated by Elisabeth Hartung), (catalogue)
2008 "first years of professionalism", BBK, Munich, (catalogue)
2007 "Produzentenmesse", Praterinsel, Munich
2007 "Zimmer frei", Hotel Mariandl, Munich
2007 "annual exhibition 2007", Kunstverein Ebersberg, (catalogue)
2006 Art Gallery Festl & Maas, Reutlingen
2003 "Villa Romana", Karl Ernst Osthaus museum, Hagen
1998 "MA on A4", Pumphouse Gallery, London, (catalogue)
1996 Kunstverein Rosenheim, (catalogue)
1995/96 "Große Kunstausstellung", Haus der Kunst, Munich, (catalogue)
1995 "How to make a sexy painting", Seidlvilla, Munich
Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung, Munich
Stephanie, Bender. 2015. Kunstblog Aus und Über München: WElTRAUM1/7/RATHAUSGALERIE http://aufkunst.com/2015/05/12/weltraum-17-rathausgalerie
Dempsey, Dean. 2014. sfaqonline.com. SFAQ Pick: A Blind Date at the ICA, Philadelphia. [Online] 2014. http://www.sfaqonline.com/2014/06/sfaq-pick-a-blind-date-at-the-ica-philadelphia.
Pastan, Miranda Rachel. 2014. http://icaphila.org/. Blind Date: Half a Portrait with Jadranka Kosorcic. [Online] 06 02, 2014. http://icaphila.org/miranda/6039/blind-date-half-a-portrait-with-jadranka-kosorcic.
Rzybylski, Jerome. 2014. broadstreetreview.com. An artist’s open call for blind dates. [Online] 04 17, 2014. http://broadstreetreview.com/wnwn/an-artists-open-call-for-blind-dates.
Ogurlić, Nela Valerjev. 2014. novilist.hr. Izložba Jadranke Kosorčić u MMSU: portreti Riječana treće dobi. [Online] 03 07, 2014. http://www.novilist.hr/Kultura/Izlozbe/Izlozba-Jadranke-Kosorcic-u-MMSU-portreti-Rijecana-trece-dobi.
Wilk, Deborah. 2014. blouinartinfo.com. The accidental currator. [Online] 02 2014.
Stange, Raimar. 2013. Online Dating, 2012. Polar. Frühjahr, 2013, Vol. 14, Nur geträumt.
Pintaric, Jadranka. 2013. Blind Date with BLoomberg Employees, London 2009. T-HT AWARDATMSU.HR. 2013.
2012. Blind Date New York 2011 Jadranka Kosorcic. 2012.
Die ersten Jahre der Professionalität. 2012. München : GALERIE DER KÜNSTLER BERUFSVERBAND BILDENDER KÜNSTLER MÜNCHEN UND OBERBAYERN E.V., 2012.
Pschak, Evelyn. 2012. Die Redaktion empfiehlt. Artinvestor. 2012, 05.
Baker, Allese Thomson. 2011. artforum.com. View of "Blind Date: New York," 2011. [Online] 2011.
Cooper, Ashton. 2011. blouinartinfo.com. My Sketchy "Blind Date": An Evening With Conceptual Portraitist Jadranka Kosorcic. [Online] 11 11, 2011. http://www.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/749631/my-sketchy-blind-date-an-evening-with-conceptual-portraitist-jadranka-kosorcic?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%253A+artinfo-all+%28All+Content+%257C+ARTINFO%29.
Kosorcic, Jadranka. 2011. BLIND DATE. [book auth.] Tina Hudelmaier and Artists. Munich-London exchange. Munich : City of Munich - Department of arts and coulture, 2011.
2011. tribecacitizen.com. Tag archive for ‘Jadranka Kosorcic’. [Online] 06 07, 2011. http://tribecacitizen.com/tag/jadranka-kosorcic.
Ich bin jetzt Kunst. Droll, Silke. 2010. 524, Mallorca : Mallorca Zeitung, 2010.
Scheller, Jörg, et al. 2010. Tanz auf dem Vulkan. München : s.n., 2010.
Waelder, Pau. 2010. issuu.com. L'Espira: Jadranka Kosorcic. [Online] 09 11, 2010. http://issuu.com/pauwaelder/docs/20100911_espira_kosorcic.
2009. blind date; works from february 1998 to june 2009. s.l. : KerberVerlag, 2009.
Jadranka Kosorčić predstavlja projekt »Wanted«. Vujanovic, Barbare. 2008. Zagreb : vjesnik, 2008
Strange, Raimar. 2008. BLIND DATE. Annual catalogue PM gallery. 2008.
2007. Blind Date, Munich 2007. Munich : Stadtkanzlei München, 2007.
Oszillierende Verkaufsabsichten. Pschak, Evelyn. 2007. München : s.n., 2007.
Craddock, Sacha. 2003. Jadranka Kosorcic. s.l. : Sammlung Essl Privatstiftung, 2003.
Catalogue published by Kerber edition 2009: ISBN 978-3-86678-278-5