IRWIN & NSK at Calvert 22 REVIEW


With the French presidential elections just closed, the London Mayor decided, and the race for American president still in progress, it seems everyone is talking about politics – even the art world.

This year, dare to consider your political alliances differently with a dual exhibition by IRWIN and NSK on offer at Calvert22. These artists speak a few decibels louder than others in the area [See ‘Shoreditch Area Review’], but the works of this two-part exhibition imagine no less quiet contemplation than on totalitarian symbols and daring efforts to re-codify their meaning.

The first floor is dedicated to the works by IRWIN, a collective originating in the Balkan region that founded The Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) in 1992. Social, cultural and political experiments of NSK strive to challenge global conventions of history in an effort to construct a new identity for Eastern Europe and to acknowledge their artistic contributions to the modernist period. A real example of how to deal with and heal after absurd politics by fighting back with equal amounts of absurdity, NSK defies authoritarian regimes by creating passports, embassies, stamps; basically forming a virtual and global state, giving NSK citizens a site without territory, a reason to organize, and a collective identity felt by 14,000 global members.

On the basement floor are artworks created by these citizens, including a uniform for the new regime and launched by citizen Haris Hararis. A good amount of time and a rebel attitude to fight back against the system are all you need to bring to enjoy this provocative exhibition.

Words: Sharon Strom © 2012 ArtLyst

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