“I have only ever experienced intellectual pleasure on the level of analogy,” declared André Breton in a 1947 essay titled “Ascendant Sign.” Analogy, both direct and indirect, pervades the practice of Serbian artist Bojan Šarčević. “Invagination,” the title of his third solo exhibition at Modern Art, London, is defined by the gallery’s press release as “the idea of something being turned inside-out, turned-in, or folded back on itself.”
First used by the phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the term became dear to Jacques Derrida, who employed it to describe a narrative that folds upon itself, perpetually swapping the observer and the observed.
This exhibition stands as a unique cognitive exercise extended over three rooms, each different but echoing the others. The entrance desk has been transformed into a brutalist desk sculpture, exhibition element (MA-SARCB-00075) (all works cited, 2016), made up of gray stones and pink metal, whose raised position confers a sense of displacement on the gallery assistant, typing away. Two wall works, exhibition element (MA-SARCB-00081) and (MA-SARCB-00076), are positioned in the opposite corner, forcing viewers to pass the desk awkwardly as they enter into private, intimate space.
The last room is occupied by just one piece, exhibition element (MA-SARCB-00085), a four-sided monumental construction of lacquered aluminum and cream plasterboard that challenges the viewer’s sense of perception. Hidden at the rear, a blue plastic bag containing dried meat is the source of an acute odor that imbues its ambient surroundings with a macabre tone.
Within this last room, what was previously unsettling at the entrance is all of a sudden pleasantly familiar. To fulfill the “invagination” premise we should start all over again.