© image taken from: https://www.krak.ba/bs/event/ivan-fijolic-t-to

Opening: Ivan Fijolić: T&TO

Curator: Irfan Hošić
KRAK Center for Contemporary Culture (Hamze Hume bb, Bihać)
May 11 – September 11, 2024.
Opening of the exhibition: Saturday, May 11, 2024, 8:30 p.m.

T&TO by the Zagreb sculptor Ivan Fijolić is a sculpture in which the famous Antun Augustinčić monument dedicated to Josip Broz Tito and the portrait of his wife Jovanka Broz are recognized at first. With a simple strategy of combining the incompatible, that is, by including different and opposing elements, namely Tito’s body and Jovanka’s head, Fijolić creates a new interpretive field of fluid and elusive character. Due to the juxtaposition of conflicting “signs”,  T&TO causes a kind of surprise and shock effect in the observer. 

Pointing to the post-modern character of contemporary sculpture and raising the general question of the perception of sculpture in public space in our environment, the temporary placement of Fijolić’s sculpture in the immediate vicinity of the KRAK center in Bihać opens up a set of often postponed questions concerning the legacy of Yugoslav socialism, the memorial heritage of the NOB- and what she commemorates. Such a sequence is particularly interesting in the context of the unfinished transition of Bosnian society, within which, due to the political and ideological ruptures of the 1990s, there was an extensive revisionism of historical narratives.

However, Fijolić does not make a direct dedication to Josip Broz – his focus is on Augustinčić’s sculpture that represents him. Instead of Tito’s, the artist places Jovanka’s head and thus seems to want to present Tito in a way that he is not. And while in the descriptive aspect it is not really about Tito, in the symbolic aspect it really is. Hence the name T&TO as a play on sounds and the sign “et” (lat.) which in South Slavic languages ​​denotes the conjunction “i”, and in Fijolć’s case takes on a conceptual meaning. With this, the artist expands the field of interpretation of the work to include its name – Tito’s name is spelled differently by the artist, but it is still read as “Tito”.

His T&TO is part of a wider body of works called Neo NOB, which are inspired by the history of the national liberation struggle from the 1940s, but also by the monuments that formed the visual language of the political opinion of a generation. 

Ivan Fijolić belongs to the middle generation of sculptors on the Zagreb scene, who built his artistic language on references to popular culture, humor and intertextuality. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, he remained famous for the sculpture dedicated to Bruce Lee in Mostar, the installation of which in a politically tense environment was supposed to humorously open the issue of monumental plastic in the public space of a divided city. 

The exhibition in KRAK takes place as part of the Bihać Architecture Week program with the theme Memory in Transition, with the support of the Robert Bosch Foundation.