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Shop of Metaphors by Petikat Workshop opens on 27 January at Lauba House.
Authors of the project are Stanislav Habjan and Danijel Žeželj.
The Shop of Metaphors is an installation made of white wood and wrought steel, of which the surrounding area is softly defined by light and shadow, chests and ropes, music and voices.
The setting is filled with original products made in small print-run editions, sometimes in several copies or as single copies. Works-letters, works-gifts, works-dedications become objects for use, intimate fetishes, designer products. What captivates at first sight, and from other shores as well, is Danijel Žeželj’s unique artistic expression; with graphic portfolios, comic books and postcards, there’s a new mast on deck, the new graphic novel Industrial.
During these thirty days, Stanislav Habjan will be an everyday participant of ‘the guest household’, shaping and reshaping, listening and answering, reading and noting; the journal of his stay is at the same time the text of the catalogue in progress. The presentation of the catalogue will be the final event of the project.
The Shop of Metaphors is a metaphor itself: a real staging of a fictive store from a just printed picture book. In Lauba House, just like in a picture book – February will be a time for presenting the public with an experimental shop that seeks to find the answer to the basic existential question: How to make a living from figures of speech? Does the best-quality offer of metaphors guarantee the certainty of breadcrumbs? Or will the Helmet of La Mancha be the only thing sold?
This is about a live picture book, a story happening right here and right now, enabling readers to influence the course of their plot. Well, my dear friends, welcome!
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VANJA ŽANKO (5 January, via email): Yesterday I found out that the Shop of Metaphors will be on display at the Croatian Designers Society in the fall? We could write a note in the exhibition announcement about the importance of different transformations and attempts with different partners. And then we might put in a sentence or two about the Pula Book Fair, announce Lauba and create curiosity about the Croatian Designers Association as well… What do you think?
STANISLAV HABJAN (5 and 7 January, via email): Sure, of course, it’s like that. The Shop of Metaphors is a format in which I can preserve personal freedom, do my own thing, feel and act like I’m at home, regardless of it being a public situation. What Jessica Lurie’s music means for Danijel in the process of painting live – the possibility to be himself even in an unnatural situation – for me is the immediate contact with his drawings, our products and working equipment. In that sense, our Shop is similar to the deck of a family boat which sails into a harbor and stays moored for a certain amount of time. Whereas this boat likes to know something in advance about the people living in the marina or managing it, and prepare something just for them. This is natural, like when one visits someone’s home for the first time. And that is the first step in the point of all this, to have something unique happen in this exchange and coexistence while it lasts. With the experience of truly different sailings, after thirty years I know that my memory is mostly shaped and determined by people, that the connection with them determines what is kept and loved or erased and forgotten. Little is left of projects and ideas. Shaping the Shop of Metaphors in the form of an installation is precisely the result of such understanding, the need to give something in return and the decision to live on.
The Shop of Metaphors at the Pula Festival of Books and Authors was a showcase of figures of speech in which one could stroll in, like in a book, read it as a book and grow to love it or not, just like a book. If one liked it, unlike with a book, one could take something tangible from it, proof that fiction exists. The shop was called Just in Case, which was very fitting and thanks to Magdalena Vodopija for that. The name is Mayakovsky’s rebuttal in a dialogue with a young Oleš who tries to sell him raw material for poetry. The title is worth keeping because, regardless of the fact that the Shop’s offer consists of things made purely out of joy, each with a dose of humor, that is a very serious matter of enormous energy, which represents the essence of an entire authorship and a beginning of a completely different behavior in relation to it. In that sense, Just in Case indicates that the offer of gifts is comprehensive and that it covers every, even the most absurd occasion.
Setting up the Shop of Metaphors in Lauba means literally placing our workshop into the context of Croatian contemporary art, which also, after decades of careful decontextualization – which is not easy to write, let alone pronounce – does not lack humor and absurdity. I am especially looking forward to a month in Lauba and that is a great opportunity for something completely new to happen that can be caught and named, becoming once again a working material. The deck is thus anchored precisely somewhere between literature and art, personal and public, installation and performance, atelier and exhibition, using the entire constantly lighted space. It seems to me that the fairest thing to do is to fully open the matter and immediately respond to every human impulse. I have no idea where I get the courage for such exposure, but I believe that everything happens for a reason; luckily I know and love the harbor, which does not decrease the responsibility. And I rely on the invisible Brooklyn dove whose lightness I feel on my hat.
The Croatian Designers Association gallery space will be a challenge on its own. My daughter Klasja, a design student, inspired me to come up with a proposal for the exhibition, and since during that time I was constantly messaging with Magdalena and Danijel about the visual identity of the Istrian Dreamlike Book Fair – in which the digressions that we are prone to completely took over the whole thing – it seemed interesting to present an integral design project by Petikat studio as a result of the extremely stimulative collaboration with the client. In the meantime, all that was planned, and even more than that, was realized in such a way that I found it very important to exhibit the work process together with the results, especially because of young designers and their situations. I wanted them to know that it is possible, that the profession is beautiful and worth the effort.
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Stanislav Habjan (Zagreb, 1957). Multimedia actions connecting literature, visual arts and graphic design since 1983. He is the author of the short story collections The Impossible Variant (1984) and Interkonfidental (Greiner&Kropilak, 1999). His prose has been published in several anthologies of Croatian short stories and novels, and translated to English, Italian and Polish. The title of his book, Postmen Who Sleep Lightly, was chosen as the name for the panorama of prose of Quorum generations (editor K. Bagić, 1996). He is the founder of Greiner & Kropilak Mailart Office (1983-2003), Slipe konfidence (1993-2003) and Petikat (Fifth Floor), 2001. He has exhibited and performed in Croatia, France, Slovenia, Italy, Denmark, Germany, India... In 1993 he constructed the Human Weight Printer, a unique type of graphic press for two people and featured in a number of performances, live graphic printing.
As a designer he is the author of numerous visual identities for Croatian and foreign art projects, film and music festivals, exhibitions and performances. He designed the posters and catalogues for the Croatian representatives at the Venice Biennale in 1997, 2003 and 2005; his posters have been included in the Graphis poster books for 1994, 1995, 2004; he was the art director of culture magazineHomo Volans (1995/7) and music magazine Nomad (first 17 issues, 1998/9). As part of artistic collaborations, he gave name to the fishing association Tri sunca, the antiquarian bookshop Moderna vremena, the art dossier magazine Up&Underground, cycling clubPedalinac, Wood Cluster Project Oakie, Cinkuši live-album Uživancija!...He was the recipient of the award for graphic design at the 34thZagreb Salon in 1999.
In collaboration with Daniel Žeželj he has realized a number of multimedia projects in Croatia and Italy (Homo volans, 1996; Il Sorriso di Majakovskij, 2001; Stazione Topolo, 2003; Reflex, 2006; My Home is Your Home, 2009; The Symmetry of the Square, 2011) and numerous graphic portfolios and picture books (Petikat Exp, 2005; Becycled Quotes, 2006; Be Fair to Dog!, 2007, Lun, 2009, Život mimo, 2010, 12P, 2011, The Shop of Metaphors, 2011). For his authorial project Becycled! he was awarded at the 40th Zagreb Salon in 2006.
He lives and works in Zagreb as a freelance artist; he is a member of the Croatian Association of Artists and Freelance Artists’ Association.
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Danijel Žeželj (Zagreb, 1966) is an author of comic booksand animated films, a painter, graphic artist, illustrator, scriptwriter. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. He has lived in England and Italy, and today lives in Brooklyn, USA. His work has been published in Croatia, Slovenia, England, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Argentina and the USA. His comics and illustrations have been published by Marvel, DC Comics/Vertigo, Grifo Edizioni, Hazard, Dargaud, as well as The New York Times Book Review, Harper’s Magazine,San Francisco Guardian, etc. He has published twentycomic-strip albums.
Since 1997, in collaboration with musician/composer Jessica Lurie, he has created a series of multimedia performances merging live music with live painting. These have been presented in theatres, clubs, galleries, churches and squats throughout Europe and the USA.
In 2005 he became the first graphic novelist to have a solo exhibition at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. In 2010 he was nominated for the Will EisnerAward for his work on the Luna Park graphic novel (DC Vertigo).
During 2010/11 his short animated film A Different Bunnywas screened at several festivals in America and Europe. Hismultimedia project Brooklyn Babylon, a one-hour show that includes animated film, music and live painting, waspresented at the Next Wave Festival in November 2011. He painted and edited the 25 minutes of animation based on his own story; the music was written by Darcy James Argue, and performed by the Secret Society Big Band.
He is one of the founders of Petikat art workshop, which has just published his new graphic novel Industrial.
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PETIKAT (Fifth floor) is a space for play, design and creative exchange. As an art workshop it was registered at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia in 2001. To date its activities have included exhibitions and actions, performances and graffiti, books and graphic portfolios, films and design products, useful and useless toys and inventions. As publisher, Petikat has more than twenty authorial issues. As a graphic design studio, Petikat designs visual identities for cultural and art events, familiy and friends initiatives; posters and signs, books and catalogues, letters and envelopes, personal notebooks and special gifts. Like the baker from the movie Fibonacci Bread, Petikat follows the spiral curve in the shape of small bread, which it kneads, bakes and delivers.