In the year 1955 the now mostly forgotten situationist artist Giuseppe ‘Pinot’ Gallizio founded the Alba Experimental Laboratory in the basement of his home in Italy. There, in the company of his friends and collaborating artists but isolated from the rest of the world, the artist believed he could create an ‘anti-world’ that would oppose a world dictated by the market and the commercialization of culture. Creating hundreds of paintings on long, continuous rolls of canvas in a manner resembling an assembly line, the works produced ‘evaded the conscious control of the individual artist’, and in combination with their vast quantities, were meant to be decisively anti-economical; sold by the meter as just another piece of merchandise. However, Gallizio’s mass-produced paintings quickly became another form of collectible art, and contrary to his intentions and enduring efforts, he was unable to disrupt the workings of the art gallery.
Now, almost sixty years later, Gallizio’s ideas resonate in the minds of contemporary artists trying to define their own place and artistic voice. Within its relatively new country, Macedonia’s cultural scene is struggling to find an identity and foothold in the art world at large. Recent years have seen Macedonia turn into a populist and xenophobic authoritarianism, in which critical voices are silenced and censored. Consequently, many Macedonian artists experience a sort of ‘schizophrenic split’ between what local conditions demand from them and what they themselves feel is necessary to create. In an attempt to divert this catch 22, the Macedonian art duo OPA addresses the function and “usefulness” of art by creating several types of mechanical tools made of everyday objects that can produce unique drawings. In a humorous manner, OPA comments on art’s claimed idealism and mystification, as well as the paradoxical turn of events that brought the autonomy of art in correlation with its commodification from which there seems to be no escape.
OPA (Obsessive Possessive Aggression) was founded in 2001 by visual artists Slobodanka Stevceska and Denis Saraginovski. Their artistic collaboration investigates social, cultural and everyday issues, as well as ways of looking, thinking and behaving within the context of shifting social and political conditions. Often, their projects are related to the life of the artist within the art system, and are aimed at deconstructing the artwork and its units. OPA is one of the founding members of Kooperacija; a self-financed informal collective whose main objective is to produce and promote critical art in an alternative way as a reaction to the complex political situation and the stifled state of the cultural institutions in Macedonia.