DEMO (Niqab version)_F.Tomsich_2017

Demo (Niqab version). Prints, edition of five, ink on paper A4, May 2017.

2017, 20th Century Frieze | Friso del Siglo XX, Demo, Drawings | Dibujos, Ink | Tinta, Lenin, Paper | Papel, Prints | Impresiones

The modern history, rise and legacy of Velenje, a small city in North-Eastern Slovenia, are related to coal mining. In the 1950’s, when the region was still part of Yugoslavia, a group of people drove an initially non-official (not supported by the federal government) plan of architectural and urban development aimed to significantly improve the life of workers. Most of the applied projects, some of them very sophisticated in this context, were done through voluntary work and transformed a town of cabins and shacks into a model of “socialist miracle”, visited by some of the most important leaders of Eastern Europe. Its most conspicuous face was a series of extremely modern buildings for living and communal use such as schools, galleries and workers’ clubs, and a very specific urban design. Even more important, they produced in the people a sense of proud and belonging that still persists, while the migration of workers from other Yugoslavian republics strengthened the openness and diversity of the social landscape. Velenje was one of the eight Yugoslavian cities named after Tito (between 1981 and 1990) and still shelters, in spite of some wills, the tallest (10 m) statue of him in the world.

Francisco Tomsich was invited by Kunigunda Festival of Youth Culture to carry out in Velenje an artistic research conducted to produce an exhibition in Stara pekarna [Old Bakery], a building in the old center of the city which was used as the town industrial bakery and it’s now subject to demolition plans.



Between April and August, 2016, Tomsich visited Velenje and met local organisers and cultural and tourism workers, collecting information and images.

The proposed procedure, Theory #Velenje, integrates the on-going Theory # series of art projections dealing with the representation of complex creative processes in specific coordinates of time and space through video, photography, painting, drawing, installation, text, sound and sculpture. The applied methods include portraiture, historical research, conversation, walking and progressive occupation of an exhibition space as metaphor of the whole process and its acquired or intuited meanings. Images, themes and questions arisen from these research strategies are analysed, re elaborated and combined in order to produce a narrative which deals with the traditions of history painting, anarchitecture, realism and allegory.

In the context of this approach, the concept of theory is extended in order to surpass its contemporary use as a synonym of abstract, axiomatic or philosophical discourse (“intelligible explanation based on observation and reasoning”, definition dated in the 1630’s) and the modern meaning of “conception, mental scheme” and to embrace praxis, models of actuation related to the original Greek notion theoria, “contemplation, speculation; a looking at, viewing; a sight, show, spectacle, things looked at“, from theorein“to consider, speculate, look at“, from theoros: “spectator”, from thea, “a view” + horan, “to see”, possibly from PIE root *wer- “to perceive”.

Theory #Velenje was produced in between 5th and 29th August, 2016. During that period, the artist lived in Velenje, meeting local people, participating in the activities of the Festival and occupying the whole Pekarna building as an open studio, spreading all around signs, images and works and permuting scale and use of the space, sometimes with the help of local artists and cultural workers (see full list of names in the last page of the exhibition guide):

Doors were covered with cardboard, corridors and closets converted into passages and cabinets, some rooms were closed to the public, and the whole space, from the entrance to the main exhibition room in the first floor was transformed through the construction of an installation made of discarded cardboard and wood, staples, nails and wire, linked to the Melusine’s Works series. This kind of tunnel, badly illuminated with low bulbs, was decorated with drawings and paintings made with coal and lime and displayed a series of “stations” (groups of printed photos, archaelogies from Melusine’s works #Lendava, drawings, installations, objects) related to local and regional recent history and poetics of space and former related research projects.



Once traversed the tunnel, the visitors came out into a slightly lighter room containing a series of paintings produced in Velenje during the work process. One of the walls displayed a big poster-like portrait of Jovanka Broz as a partisan, painted with home-made black oil directly on the tiled wall and surrounded by two paintings of Yugoslavian Honor Guards (taken from a photo of Tito’s mausoleum at the end of the 80’s) covering the side doors. This work refers to the highly symptomatic story of the dead and burial of Jovanka Broz in 2013.



Another wall displayed an tryptich of paintings made in Velenje,



while one side room, non accesible but visible through a metal sliding door, presented an installation called The horse inside the flat (Ne spadamo na balkona) which humorously points to some local urban legends about the customs of some migrant workers’ families while reflects at the same time on the effort made (1950-1960) by the local government to “educate” them in the modern life style the new architecture demanded, life style which, as seen in another piece (the projection The Velenje Diaries) is constantly subverted and defied until today.



After that, the visitor has no other option than going back into the tunnel to access the second floor of the building through the staircase. This tour also presents some stations, like a drawing made by local artists upon a diagram shown in a room of the castle’s museum which presents the statistics of miners’ accidents and the parts of the body usually affected by them, or a curtain made with an archaelogy of a painting from the series Cy, produced in Ljubljana in 2016.



The main room of the second floor exhibited the series of paintings Open Allegories #1, while one of the small ones hosted a serpent made of cardboard by local artists and volunteers which was threw through the window the day of the opening. In the exhibition guide, that room was called Nehushtan, linking it to another piece produced in Ljubljana in the frame of the association of artists Meta City Symptoms, making a link between Pekarna and Rog, an autonomous center of activities of artists and activists in Ljubljana that is also in danger of being appropriated and demolished by the city government.



The last room of the tour displayed a video installation, The Velenje diaries, a sketch:

The exhibition lasted two days more after the opening, 23rd of August. It was dismantled on Monday 29th, August, and paintings were transported to Ljubljana in order to produce a series of new Archaeologies.

Tour trough Theory #Velenje (VIDEO)
Photos of the opening
Exhibition guide
A spot about Theory #Velenje produced by EU volunteers working for Kunigunda Festival of Youth Culture Velenje
Two texts about Theory #Velenje produced by two EU volunteers working for Kunigunda Festival of Youth Culture Velenje: Mireia and Ugur

2016, 20th Century Frieze | Friso del Siglo XX, Acrylics | Acrílico, Actions | Acciones, Archaelogies | Arqueologías, Cardboard | Cartón, Chalk | Tiza, Coal | Carbón, Constructions and dismantlings | Construcciones y desmontajes, Cy, Davorjanka Paunović, Installations | Instalaciones, Jovanka Broz, Light | Luz, Lime | Cal, Nadezhda Krupskaya, Nehushtan, Oil | Óleo, Open Allegories | Alegorías Abiertas, Paintings | Pinturas, Passages | Pasajes, Pigments | Pigmentos, Portraits | Retratos, Prints | Impresiones, Projection | Proyección, Sculpture | Escultura, Shadow | Sombra, Slovenia | Eslovenia, Solo exhibitions | Muestras individuales, Studio Diaries | Diarios de taller, Tables | Mesas, Theory | Teoría, Velenje, Water | Agua, Wire | Alambre, Women in yet unknown colours | Mujeres de color aún desconocido, Wood | Madera




CODEX (PDF) es un mamotreto de 786 páginas compuesto con fotocopias de dibujos, impresiones de fotografías, correos electrónicos, documentos, textos, fragmentos de diarios, notas, reproducciones de obras y materiales de taller producidos entre 1997 y 2010 y ordenados cronológicamente a modo de autobiografía artística. Fue realizado durante una residencia en el Espacio Arte Contemporáneo de Montevideo, durante la cual preparé la muestra Loess, en la que fue expuesto, entre agosto y diciembre de 2010. |


CODEX (PDF) is a hefty volume of 786 photocopies of chronologically-ordered  drawings, pictures, printed pictures of pictures, e-mails, documents, texts, fragments of diaries, notes, sketches, reproductions of works and studio materials produced between 1997 and 2010. It was compiled during an artistic residency at EAC (Space for Contemporary Art, Montevideo) while preparing the exhibition Loess, in which it was displayed at the entrance.

2010, Books | Libros, Ediciones del Viento, How to dissapear not completely, Loess, Montevideo, Photocopies | Fotocopias, Prints | Impresiones, PUBLICATIONS | PUBLICACIONES, Solo exhibitions | Muestras individuales, Uruguay




Essai sur l’enfermement fue una muestra de taller realizada en las instalaciones (unos galpones externos en uno de los patios de la ex-cárcel, que alguna vez fueron talleres de los presos y comedores de los obreros que construyeron el nuevo museo) del Espacio Arte Contemporáneo de Montevideo en las que estuve trabajando entre agosto y diciembre de 2010 preparando la muestra de índole retrospectiva Loess para el Museo de Bellas Artes Juan Manuel Blanes. En esta hoja impresa, que ofició de catálogo, se detallan las obras allí expuestas. El error en la escritura del título (sin apóstrofe) no fue responsabilidad del artista. ESLE se inauguró en la misma fecha de diciembre y a la misma hora que Loess, y bajó también el mismo día de abril. La única nota de prensa fue publicada en en el periódico La diaria. Durante el tiempo pasado en residencia en el EAC, y como se documenta detalladamente en el Diario de la Cárcel (un diario de taller escrito en ese período y exhibido en la muestra), me dediqué diariamente a revisar, documentar, ordenar y archivar obras realizadas entre 2001 y 2010. También produje, entre otras cosas, una serie de “Ejercicios de retrospección” textuales, algunas pinturas, dibujos y esculturas, así como un video (Los espejos, realizado junto a Oreste Lattaro) y una serie de pequeñas esculturas efímeras tituladas piezas de preso. Cf. AQUÍ.

2010, 2011, Atelier 77, EAC, Banquitos de Varela, Blackboards | Pizarrones, Cardboard | Cartón, Essai sur l'enfermement, Essays | Ensayos, Exhibition Guides | Guías de exhibición, How to dissapear not completely, Installations | Instalaciones, Lime | Cal, Mirror | Espejo, Montevideo, Objet trouvé, Paintings | Pinturas, Pigments | Pigmentos, Plaster | Yeso, Potatoes | Papas, Prints | Impresiones, Residencias | Residencias, Sculpture | Escultura, Self-portraits | Autorretratos, Solo exhibitions | Muestras individuales, Stone | Piedra, Studio Diaries | Diarios de taller, Uruguay, Video, Water | Agua, Wood | Madera

Essai sur l’enfermement



Fantasma (recuerdo del Molino Quemado). Tiza y tinta de toner sobre papel A4. | Chalk on black print, 2006.

2007, Chalk | Tiza, Drawings | Dibujos, How to dissapear not completely, Montevideo, Prints | Impresiones, Uruguay

Remembering Molino Quemado


Mudanza/Icaria (August, 2006) was, like Jania (December, 2003), an essay on dialectics. Mudanza is the thesis and Icaria its negation. The “/” between the two is the web full of garbage that we moved from the little open backyard of our house to the Ministry of Education and Culture. Mudanza was a project (PDF) written on February, 2006, as a site-specific installation for the second floor of MEC’s building. Icaria was born later, while Mudanza began to become a series of sculptures and the web started to deserve becoming the sea instead of staying heaven.


The exhibition Mudanza/Icaria also included pictures from the process of making Mudanza displayed on the wall, as well as the Ícaro sonnets (written four hands with the poet and novelist Horacio Cavallo and later published in the book Sonetos a dos, 2009), the lyrics of Canción para Icaro (Song for Icarus, music from Hiram Vindenson, also published in 2014) and some other little texts. The guitarist and composer Vladimir Guicheff wrote a piece for solo guitar entitled Icaro and he performed it at the opening. The story of the sculpture Ícaro continues until now and it could be checked here, here and here.





Mudanza e Icaria son dos proyectos, procesos vitales y metodologías de trabajo diferentes, cuya fusión en el “espacio intervención” del MEC probablemente ha fracasado. Mudanza/Icaria es una intervención, y no más que eso (tampoco menos). Todos los elementos que componen la instalación están enteramente subordinados a su condición de tal. Mudanza es un proyecto que se proponía, en febrero de 2006, trasladar al MEC (y colgar en la claraboya que separa la planta baja del primer piso) una red llena de basura que por entonces colgaba en el patio (en realidad, un pozo de aire de unos 4 por 3 ms.) de una casa en la que vivo, desde 2003, con varios estudiantes de diversas partes del país. Esa red fue colocada por el “vecino de abajo” para evitar que la basura que los “vecinos de arriba” tiraban hacia “nuestro” patio bloqueara el desagüe y el agua de lluvia se filtrara en sus dependencias. La costumbre de los “vecinos de arriba” (una pensión oscura) dejó de afectar a los “vecinos de abajo”, pero la basura se acumulaba sobre “nuestras” cabezas. Como resultado, el patio dejó de usarse y pasó a convertirse en un depósito infecto. De los objetos depositados en el patio entre verano y agosto de 2006, decidimos trasladar al MEC sólo la madera, en general restos de tarimas, puertas y otros muebles encontrados en la calle que no fueron utilizados luego (como sí lo fueron muchos otros) ni en mi propio taller ni para otros usos diversos, como construir muebles rústicos (actividad pergeñada por algunos de los habitantes de la casa). El día del montaje de Mudanza coincidiría con una operación de limpieza radical del patio y de su transporte. Mudanza, pues, es un proyecto colectivo de limpieza. Quienes participaron en la remoción de la red y en su reinstalación en el MEC, limpiaron el patio y las escaleras luego y dispusieron la madera en atados para su transporte no son “artistas” y tampoco desean serlo. Tal vez algunos disfrutaron el carácter político de la acción, pero no se excedieron en sus valoraciones de la misma. Icaria es un proceso (la construcción de una obra con madera encontrada, la escritura de varios textos) que se desata cuando el proyecto Mudanza es aprobado, aunque tiene una historia más larga. “Icaria” es el nombre de un grupo de performers (Daniel Alem, Juan de Arroyal y Carolina Pimienta, entre otros) que, en diciembre de 2001 realizó una acción que consistía en tirarse, munidos de “alas” de madera, pluma y cera y dispositivo de seguridad mediante, de lo alto del Palacio Salvo. Además, realizaron otras obras menos sonadas antes de la muerte de Juan de Arroyal en Mayo de 2002. Esta lectura del mito de Ícaro es un homenaje a aquella otra “Icaria”, aunque la red que recibe los cuerpos es más endeble y está llena de basura, y además no cubre todo el espacio aéreo de la caída posible. Como recordará el lector y relata una de las versiones del mito, Ícaro y su padre Dédalo huyeron de Creta mediante unas alas construidas por éste último. Ícaro se acercó demasiado al sol y la cera que unía las plumas se desprendió. Ícaro cayó al mar y se ahogó, y Dédalo lo recogió y lo enterró en la isla de Icaria. La pedagogía que suele extraerse del mito suele pecar de simplista, porque no sabemos muy bien cuáles eran las motivaciones de Ícaro (en la vida, por ejemplo) y tampoco las de Dédalo: sólo sabemos que huían. La condición de “héroe” de Ícaro también es bastante difícil de definir: en todo caso es un héroe erróneo, un héroe al revés, y sólo remite a sí mismo. Una última cosa: cualquier imagen de Ícaro sería ambigua si careciera de alas. [Text given to visitors].

Photographies: María José Zubillaga


2006, Constructions and dismantlings | Construcciones y desmontajes, Guicheff & Tomsich, Icarus | Ícaro, Installations | Instalaciones, Montevideo, Mudanza/Icaria, Poetry | Poesía, Prints | Impresiones, Sculpture | Escultura, Solo exhibitions | Muestras individuales, Sonetos a dos, Uruguay, Wood | Madera