Damir Očko "Studies on Shivering: The Third Degree"

Croatia - Biennale Arte 2015

Pavilion of Croatia at the 56th International Art exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia

The project conceived for the Pavilion of Croatia expands the poetics of Damir Očko’s last two films, TK (2014) and The Third Degree (2015). Both films question the social constraints imposed on the body as a physical and social being, while inquiring the underlying norms inherent to our societies.

The Third Degree film
In The Third Degree, one can see a close-up footage of skin scars resulting from third degree burns, surrounded by microtonal sound of a crystal-clear note.

Filmed through an installation of broken mirrors that also reflect the crew filming, the texture of the skin becomes almost an abstract element.

The term “Third Degree” has a double significance in the English language: it is a way to classify a burn of a very strong degree, but it can also signify a process of extorting a confession under violence.

The Third Degree reflects the creative process and its ethics, pushing the envelope on how art can render such topics.

Especially here, there is some kind of a Brechtian movement, which reveals the seen and the unseen, the role of the viewer as an active witness, as well as the team while filming.

By including the context of the film set, The Third Degree reveals what is usually hidden from sight and thus integrates the viewer into the artistic development.

The display
If the two films - The Third Degree and TK - constitute the basis of the project, the display held in Palazzo Pisani S. Marina further develops their issues while expanding in the space through other material.
The exhibition tends to expose an apparent state of tranquility and its underlying violence, and therefore echoes a form of violence brought by the instability between stillness and a lurking pressure. 

Study on shivering no.5
Sound installation with the sound of chattering teeth, custom made speakers, amplifier, DVD players, 2014-15

Untitled (writings of Giuseppe Ianuzzi)
In this room is presented an ensemble of 16 drawings made by one of the main protagonists of the film TK, an old man suffering from Parkinson's disease. Each of these drawings reads the beginning of a sentence from a poem written by Damir Očko starting with the words "In Tranquility..."
Analyzing and staging the outline of codependence between the artist, the audience and the exhibition, Damir Očko involves the viewers so they could become aware of their role within the artistic process. For if the context informs, it also transforms by making semantic shifts and by showing internal structures of artmaking in order to create a new kind of rhetoric—a mechanism that reinforces our position as both witnesses and actors of today’s complex world.
TK (2014) brings the interest for the language of body and its relation to the socio political context of “physical presence”. The title of the work, TK, is an onomatopoeic description of the sound made either by stone hitting the ground or by teeth closing in bite. 

In TK, two types of scenes collide together. First one follows the hands on an old man who suffers from Parkinson's disease, initiating a core lines of the poem in a written form.

This man tirelessly attempts to write a sentence which begins; “In Tranquility…” Each time after the line has been set on paper by his shaky hand, second set of images takes over.

There, the camera follows a group of young men enduring the harsh winter, bare and naked. Shivering muscles, skin and limbs in their attempts to remain tranquil while the camera slowly observes how easily things fall apart.

Calmness decaying and bodies are left with a very little control. It is exactly this idea of slowly loosing the control that adds to the political significance of the whole work.

Each scene further hosts a part of a poem spoken in correlation to the shivering, hence turning the bodies on the screen into a vessel for poem, sounds, voices and meanings.

Reversed interview
Acting as an extension—or a reader—of the exhibition, a reversed interview has been conducted by the artist with the curator Marc Bembekoff. Here, Damir Očko has striven to deconstruct the conventional process that constitutes the genre, in shifting the traditional roles of the interviewer and the interviewee. By reversing the way questions are usually asked, this upside down questionnaire not only pushes the borders and melts answers and questions, but it also reflects the way in which the entire project has been conceived. While following a circling scheme, this reversed interview reveals more about the artist’s modus operandi as much as his thoughts and views, a reflection determined at the same time by social, political and aesthetic parameters.
Damir Očko (b. 1977, lives and works in Zagreb) is one of the most prominent Croatian artist of his generation. His videos, films, poetry and works on paper have been exhibited recently in Temple Bar Gallery in Dublin (2014), KM - Künstlerhaus Halle für Kunst & Medien in Graz (2014), Yvon Lambert gallery in Paris (2013), Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2012), Galleria Tiziana Di Caro in Salerno (2012), and Kunsthalle Dusseldorf (2011). He participated in numerous collective exhibitions with institutions such as MUDAM, Luxembourg, FRAC Le Plateau in Paris, Kunsthalle Wien, and Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb among others. His works are part of many public and private collections around the world.            Marc Bembekoff is currently Director of Centre d’art contemporain La Halle des bouchers in Vienne (Is.re, France). He previously served as curator at Palais de Tokyo (2011-13) and Mus.e Rodin (2009-10), assistant curator at Frac Champagne-Ardenne (2007-09) and film assistant curator at Centre Pompidou (1999-2003). As an independent curator, he organized numerous exhibitions including projects with the collective Le Bureau/. He has contributed to several monographic publications and exhibition catalogues. Since 2013, he’s been part of the artistic Board of Flag-France Foundation (Paris).
Credits: Story

Pavilion of Croatia at the 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale
di Venezia

Damir Očko
“Studies on Shivering: The Third Degree”

Marc Bembekoff

Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia
Berislav Šipuš
Tamara Perišić

Nevena Tudor Perković

Lovro Skoblar

Production manager and coordinator:
Tihana Puc

Production consultant:
Simone Birač

Artist’s Assistant:
Vanja Babić

Film production:
Kreativni Sindikat
Igor Grubić

Graphic design:

AV Technician:
AVinstal, Dejan Čuljat, Igor Siuc

The project is financed by
the Ministry of Culture of
the Republic of Croatia

Additional support
- “Hrvatska kuća - Croatia House“ Foundation
- Tiziana Di Caro Gallery, Naples

Special Thanks:
Neven Vranković, Atlantic Grupa

Jasmina Bavoljak, Branka Benčić, Ana Dana Beroš, Nada Beroš, Matija Bošnjaković, Diego Carpentiero, Maja Cepetić, Ivan Cizelj,
Tiziana Di Caro, Alessia Evangelista, Feđa Hudina, Jasna Jakšić, Anja Mamić, Ana-Maria Milčić, Maša Milovac, Tihomir Milovac, Patrizia Nicolai, Jan Pavlović, Barbara Španjol Pandelo, Danilo Zambon, Maja Zeman

Credits: All media
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