Maja Bajevic, To Be Continued, 2012.
Exhibition view: DAAD Gallery, Berlin, Germany (Curator Ariane Beyn), 2012.
Photo documentation: Krzysztof Zielinski
To Be Continued, daadgalerie, Berlin
Political and economic slogans have probably become the most direct way of expressing opinions or transmitting messages to the masses. One hundred and forty-nine slogans from the last hundred years, from 1911 to 2011, are presented here, in an archive in progress. From a neutral standpoint, putting them all on the same level gives rise to a reality distinguished by a sense of absurdity.
The quantity and the content of slogans from a certain period speak of the social temperature of that moment. In times of political turmoil there are more political slogans than in periods of relative calm. By contrast, in politically stable periods slogans tend to take on an economic cast. Some even lose their political connotations in favor of economic ones. Exploring this field of communication allows to mirror events and fluctuations in society over the last hundred years. Noticeable shifts include: from the left to the right; from the political to the economic; from enthusiasm / idealism to resignation and back, as pinpointed, for example, by events in the world today. The mass that speaks or is spoken to today might be different from, or even radically opposed to, the mass that speaks or is spoken to tomorrow. Is change the only stable factor in history?
Taking these slogans and shifts as the starting point, a number of elements have been used to set them in motion.
Two composers and bandleaders, Basheskia and Edward Eq, were entrusted with the task of composing an original melody for each of the slogans. They recorded the slogans sung a cappella by individual singers, some of whom are musically qualified, others not. In this case, the method for connecting them derives from a game children’s play: The last word of my sentence has to be the first word of your sentence.
Performance – First cycle
Scaffolding has been placed in front of the shop-like windows of the DAAD gallery in order to allow access to the upper window levels. A group of five performers dusts these windows – putting dust on them rather than removing it. On the dusty windows they write slogans which are washed away before the process starts over again, a task as futile as Sisyphus’s. The performance cycle lasts for five days, three hours per day.
At the end of the session the scaffolding and the scrawled slogans on the half-cleaned windows stay on as artifacts of the performance. The tools used by the workers also remain on display.
Performance – Second cycle
A professional opera singer is singing the melodies composed for the sound installation in the gallery space. Opera, originally composed for the people, has in the meantime become part of the establishment. Now an opera singer is singing slogans, thus, the voice of the people or addressing the people, in a new context.
Social and political turmoil over the last hundred years is represented by slogans floating on clouds of steam. Walter Benjamin said: “The real image of the past moves on fleetingly.” Slogans are projected on moving steam, underlining yet again the ephemeral within the project and the way it tends to speak about history. Everything comes and goes and turns around.
In the former Yugoslavia there was an expression often used to describe politicians: ‘the ones who sell fog’ or ‘fog sellers,’ meaning those who tell a free interpretation of the facts, not necessarily false but not true either.
In contrast to the ephemeral nature of these slogans’ appearances, the archive offers a permanent register. It has a file for every slogan used in the exhibition. Each file includes a photograph of the slogan (in the broad sense of the term, including posters, etc.) in a public space and a text about it written by Dr Bojana Pejic, Henriette Sölter, and Mara Traumane.
The pieces in the exhibition were originally made for the Crystal Palace of the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid. During the installation period of the exhibition the protest in Puerta del Sol, Madrid started. The title of the exhibition appeared, soon after, as a slogan in Puerta del Sol, as seen on the invitation card, taking back to real life what has been taken out of it for the exhibition.
 Walter Benjamin, “On the Concept of History” (1940), in Selected Writings, vol. 1. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.