curated by Sonja Zavrtanik
28/10 - 18/11/2011
sculpture out of wood and cardboard painted with white ink
The Vienna based artist group Mahony (Clemens Leuschner, Stephan Kobatsch and Jenny Wolka) deals with motifs connected with travelling, but not only in geographic sense. It is about time travel, some kind of archeological expeditions, with which the past is re-questioned in the present.
The project, which presents the Mahony group for the first time in the Ex-garage in Maribor, starts with a story that was considered striking news in the media at the beginning of the year. A story about the incident, connected with the sale of a collection of pre-Columbian art in Paris. A famous Parisian auction house sold a stone statue of Maya deity for an incredible sum of 2,9 million dollars at an auction. A sculpture in polychrome stucco stone of 156 cm of height, presenting a figure sitting on a throne, was supposedly the biggest foot statue from the classic Maya period. This event wouldn’t be anything special if the Mexican institutions wouldn’t have gotten involved. They established on the basis of the statue photographs that it is only an imitation that doesn’t fit any of the Maya art styles and is actually a combination of various styles, which was supposed to be the proof of its inauthenticity. The French institutions on the other side stood behind their claims and insisted that the Mexican attempts to discredit the statue served to protect their own interests and to prevent the sales of Mexican antiquities in public and legal auctions, which would lead to a black market with no regulation. The facts that the statue belonged to a renowned collector of art, that it was exhibited several times and published in catalogues and nobody ever questioned its authenticity before, were strong enough arguments for a French gallerist to believe that the item was authentic. The discussions continued for a long time without reaching any conclusion. Both sides only agreed on the fact that this is a unique item, but one claimed it to be a great piece of art and the other claimed it to be a well-made forgery.
The statue of Maya deity travels in time inside the constructed stories of French gallerists and Mexican authorities, on the timeline from year 500 to 2010 AD. Every time when the date changes on the basis of new scientific proof from one of both sides, the object moves in time. The object itself somehow exists only as a mental perception and is therefore constantly changing and evading. It is determined by the intensity of the stories supported by different information, and its final interpretation remains indeterminable. In the context of these asymmetrical interpretations, the statue pedestal is the only tangible item and as such the only object that is set up at the exhibition.