The Dragan Ilić retrospective exhibition represents a cross-section of the artist’s body of work that spans over several decades. The exhibition showcases his most significant conceptual works and a selection of artistic projects in different media, which were realized in Australia, USA, Japan, as well as Belgrade – at the Students’ Cultural Centre, the Centre for Cultural Decontamination and other institutions.
Belgrade audiences are familiar with Ilić’s radical, interactive performances, in which the audience threw sharpened pencils at the artists, his drawings that were executed with the help of a robot, and the art space ITS-Z1 that the artist founded in Belgrade.
The starting point in the work of Dragan Ilić is the conceptual analysis of the de/reconstruction of the drawing process, like registering physical activities on paper, following “kinetic lines” (Stelarc) that the artist produces meticulously and thoughtfully, and opening space for different artistic activities that culminate with the creation of a drawing. At the heart of his artistic research, Ilić confronts primordial modes of human creative activity – drawing – by utilizing possibilities provided by new technologies. The artist’s experiments focus on the intersection of art, science and technology, and especially emphasize the use of robotics in his artistic practice.
After an intense research process and experiments with various instruments and devices made for drawing, Ilić became one of the pioneers who uses robots as prosthetic extensions for his arms and as drawing utensils. Closely following technological developments, Ilić includes in his art projects the latest sophisticated models of industrial robots and brain-computer interfaces. With the machine programed to draw, the robot becomes a medium for interaction and for “symbiosis” with the artist, creating a kind of “hybrid body” of man and machine, whose nervous system and brain waves administer “software commands” to the robot during the drawing performance. A key actor in the exhibition will be the new model of the KUKA KR 210 robot, that has a multi-functioning performative role: from drawing, experimental dance, music – through the production of industrial sound, and a six channel video projection that documents Ilić’s projects.
The exhibition title, (Re)Evolution initiates a discussion about future collaborations and interactions between man and robot, biology and technology, and the increasingly important role of artificial intelligence in productional, technological and social processes. A key question in Ilić’s recent artistic research and projects relates to the potential of controlling or even accelerating the evolutionary process, and the possibility of advancing human kind through new scientific and technologic methods.
Dragan Ilić (born in Belgrade 1948) attended the School of Art in Canberra at the Australian National University (1974-1975), as well as the Millenium Film Lab, Dov S-S Simens Film programme in New York (1986). He was active in the Australian art scene, before moving to New York, where he lived and worked over the next several decades. In 2007, Ilić returned to Belgrade, where he founded the art space ITS-Z1. Ilić exhibited and conducted performances in Australia, USA, Japan, South Korea, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, France, Great Britain, etc. In the early 1980s, Ilić was active at the Fashion Moda Gallery in the Bronx, that under the organization of Jenny Holzer and Stefan Eins participated in the 1982 exhibition documenta 7 in Kassel (the artists that exhibited included Kiki Smith, Keith Haring, John Fekner, Kenny Sharf, Tom Otterness, Louise Lawler, Dragan Ilić, etc.). In recent years, Ilić performed at the prestigious Ars Electronica Festival in Linz.
Curator: Zoran Erić