Melissa in Candyland is a multimedia project by author Manuela Vladić-Maštruko.
Taking as her point of departure the idea of eliding the borders between life and art, she found ideal collaborators for the project in the members of her own family – in her husband and their children. Original music for the project was composed by Tomo Johannes in der Muhlen / IDM Music.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb took part in the organisation and presentation of the project, as well as the publication of the ancillary material, that the artist herself designed as a picture book.The first presentation of the project and the exhibition that went with it were held in the Studio, Museum of Contemporary art, Zagreb, between December 18 2003 and January 20 2004.
During the time the exhibition was on, communication/interaction with the visitors to the museum went on at several levels:
+ viewing the exhibition of prints and the author’s collection of the finest candies, exhibited on a tables and in a display case. On the table there were a monitor and a keyboard. An LCD projector was connected with the computer, via which the image from the computer was simultaneously projected onto the wall of the gallery;
· + via the animation on the screen and participation in the game (Virtual Reality Modeling Lenguage format), interactive movement in the virtual space of the Candy Museum and the landscape in which it is located, and in the quest for the hidden-most candy; having performed the task of the game successfully, the players, with the use of their key object, the candy that constitutes a link to the MSU ( Museum of Contemporary Art ) Web page, created and sent an e-mail to the Museum’s message box;
· + apart from communication via electronic media, the artist organised and ran an art workshop, in which the main art materials were sweets and packaging, the theme being the construction of a landscape, via the reshaping of ready-made materials;
· + after the closing of the exhibition the drawing ceremony and announcement of the lucky winner in the presence of all the participants took place. The lucky winner received as a prize candies that weighed just as much as he did.
The project is expected in its further development to set off from its local base in Zagreb and make guest in appearances in other cultural centres, on global level.
Player communications will be effected via the Web site of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. Before sending the final personal-details on e-mail, the player have opportunity to browse the on-line pages of the Museum and get to know about the works of art in the holding.
Dear Claudia! (CONSUME ART, ZAGREB,KARAS GALLERY, 2001)
Thank you very much for taking interest in my project and for wanting to find more about it. That made me happy on one hand but on the other it kind made me worried. I have always feared of explaining and describing my ideas and projects. It always seemed to me that words are removing a fine protective layer, which would make an observer see the entire work through a mist and would make him or her think about it, look for answers within his or her feelings and knowledge in order to gasp the entity of the picture.
How ever it may be, nowadays an artist had to articulate his/her visual ideas in words too. That’s request imposed by the spirit of the times.
Therefore, I have tried here to present my efforts and ideas in a few phases and areas (to make them clear and also because I am afraid I would start talking to much about it and get lost in my own sentences).
A PHASE BETWEEN THE IDEA AND THE FINAL PRODUCT OR AN EMERGING PHASE
I have to use a quotation here: “An artist, worried because of his marginal role in a modern (consumer’s) world, strives to expand it. However, in order to do so, he turns to a language of another specialty, which is often based on particular codes and abstraction and consequently it has little in common with reality and is inaccessible to anyone apart a small number of elite.”
I intend to implement a project based on the assumption that a gap between the audience and the artist may be overcome, provided that potential observers are turned into participants. With its strategy and a kind of feeling stroke the project strives to create a bridge between art and game. (It wishes to provoke observer’s –consumer’s feelings and raise his/her awareness about himself/herself, his/her feeling and the world around.
As you know, the project started with e-mails with a short description and the request to all those, who support the idea that all people are creative, to join in and send me two bags of their favorite candies from their countries. All the envelopes with addresses of the senders will also be exhibited. I sent 10 initial messages, which progressively multiplied and were sent further on. I am pleased to say that until now I have received candies from Sweden, Slovakia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, America (thank you!), Australia, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, France, Island, Israel, Austria, England… (Our postman is very puzzled and is discretely trying to find out what is all about. He agrees to be photographed.) Many of my friends have brought me candies from their trips. Sometimes I can almost physically feel these candies arriving … look for time to think, I make money, I look for sponsors, I wash up, iron, make dinners for my friends, however, a part of my consciousness constantly work with the candies. In the meantime my children have given up on consuming a sample from each delivery.
* The slogan Consume Art, which was in the past used for the purposes of regulating the relationship between art and its socialist audience, is now brought to the extreme: observers really become consumers. They finally may literally consume the art (regardless in the entire absurdity of the slogan): eat it!
* The analysis of an institution, which exhibits such a work in order to prove that a context conditions the status of art as of other things in nowadays society.
* Supporting the idea that all people are creative beings.
* Globalization: from the moment my message was sent to the world and the moment the candies started arriving to the moment of consumption of “these sweet parts of the world” – the project got the characteristic of being global. The trend of globalization requests for taking sides. As much as that is obvious I must emphasize that I take a side of a humanistic globalization that sees the world as a possibility not as a limitation.
MATERIAL AND SHAPE
It is my idea that art may consist of any kind of material (I mostly work with inconstant and consumer materials) and to show how different materials have their own meanings (the symbol of a spiral is my constant preoccupation). And finally, about the form of exhibition. Karas Gallery is a very pretty exhibition venue. The way mezzanine is connected with the ground-floor and the first floor enables a good structure of the idea and the strategy of the project in the space. At the entrance on the wall of the ground-floor there will be envelopes and parcels thatwere used to send the candies in.
A great spiral (4 meters in diameter) made of arrived candies will be exhibited on a large mezzanine wall. From there we take an open staircase to the first wall where there will be a great horizontal spiral made of candies. A sign reading “CONSUME ART” will be exhibited on the left wall, whereas on the right one there will be a sign reading “CONSUME WHEN NECESSARY”. Ten small glass boxes filled with candies will be placed under this sign. The signs reading on the boxes will be as follows: love, pain, happiness, money, quarrel, friendship, fear, peace, war, art. At the opening on January 15, 2001 art will finally be consumed. All consumed parts will be replaced by videoed material.
I look forward to your soon visit to Zagreb and I hope that I will be able to show you a video presentation of the entire project.
Manuela (Zagreb, December 2000)
(the letter to american artist Claudia de Monte)