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ANGELS OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER

On the series of sculptures “Robot Invasion” by Nikola Kolja Bozovic If we presume that in a couple of previous centuries of the pre- industrial and industrial era angels were the decorative elements that were most commonly used in all the fields of applied arts – from tapestries, needlepoint and intarsions, through tableware and decorative plastics on façades, to illustrations or, let’s say, fabric patterns, robots are their substitutes or equivalents in the mass culture of the postindustrial, information era. Angels being replaced by robots – this could be understood as a paradigmatic civilization turn in which robots are assuming the role of the angels of the new world order.

The stronghold for such a view may be found in the details of a porcelain dish – a tureen named “People Love Their Drugs”, which was created by Nikola Kolja Bozovic in 2005, and which is the zero point of his series “Robot Invasion”. At the spots where we could expect to see angels, flowers or other charming details, the dish is decorated with figures of extremely built-up men and women1, supermen and superwomen, almost cyborgs, while painted elements depict multicolour pills and syringes organized in emblematic forms. This tureen may be understood as the exhibit which defines the entire series that Kolja Bozovic started creating in 2005, comprising painted and collaged scenes ranging from expressionism, pop-art, comic book art and almost gemoetricized compositions, where people and robots clash and transform one into another, until the definite triumph of robots is proclaimed by a series of steel sculptures, among which some are made in combination with leather or in wood.

Following his previous series: “The Big Leader” and “Be Strong2”, in “Robot Invasion” Kolja Bozovic has further developed a critical approach toward many aspects of the modern, globalized world. Until 2000, his solo creation and creative activities within the art group “Hype” were focused on the relationship between the leader and an individual. In this decade, however, he is establishing a critical distance toward the cult of the perfect body cult in the modern world established and governed by the media, and he continues to explore the general civilization process of dehumanization. In the visual art of Kolja Bozovic, robots have gradually taken over the central position and become emancipated in relation to other contents and the space itself. This emancipation process may be tracked from the initial introduction of robots into Kolja’s iconosphere - in the series “Be Strong”, on the collage “The Robot Attacks” a cyborg appears for the first time as the counter balance of an overemphasized, extremely built-up human body, the senseless shell of a humanoid. In the series “Robot Invasion”, a struggle between extremely built-up hybrid superhumans and robots is brief and episodic (in paintings “Mind Your Back” and “The Robot Strangling the Builder” and, to some extent, in “The Robot’s Funeral “), followed by a series of reduced collages where robots remain as the only figures. And, eventually, they become three-dimensional, tangible artifacts in the series of smaller dimensions – about twenty sculptures made of stainless steel, with polished shiny surfaces and perfect craftsman’s make (close to the spirit and creation of some sculptures by Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, Nikola Pešic....). These are “The Sad Boy“, “The Two-Headed Robot”, “The Baby”, “Mickey the Robot“, “Zip Robot”, “Transformers”, “Cheesebot”.... while “The Rabbit Robot”, “The Robot in the Wind”, “Zuba Mirror”, “Zip Robot 2”, as well as the relief prints made with UV paint on aluminum “The Robot in Prison” and “The Robot on Santorini” are parts of the series being created “Fireplace”,which indicates that robots will continue to be the main protagonists of Kolja Bozovic’s future works of art as well.

In turning his ideas into works of art, Bozovic does not respect the limits of genre and media conventions, emphasizing that fears, banal representations and human need to appreciate something beautiful were his principal preoccupation during the creation of his works comprised in the series “Robot Invasion”. He creates his works in series and makes entire new fictional worlds, in the manner in which the consumer society educates its “disciples” from their early age through the world of toys (Barbie and Bratz dolls, Ninja Turtles, Mighty Rangers, Transformers, etc). In “Robot Invasion” humans are bad guys, while robots acquire the status of good, emotional creatures: they cry, they are naughty, they urinate, they get angry, they become two-headed mutants, they acquire speech capacity and sex characteristics..... Unlike the threatening and scary cyborgs, from Frankenstein at the beginning of the 19th century to Terminator, Kolja Bozovic creates humanized, highly aesthetized, lovable and alluring cyborgs, which arouse consumers’ wish to possess them as commodity. Thus, these humanized robots massively return among people, and they come back as the divine messengers of the cyber world or a presumed world of post-humanist utopia, as the messengers of some noble, angelic mission. Also, their shiny polished and reflecting surfaces allow an observer to see himself/herself and establish a dialogue (or monologue) on the state of humanity in the 21st century. Thus, in the series “Robot Invasion”, Kolja Bozovic dehumanizes humans and humanizes robots. And such dramaturgic tension destabilizes the existence stronghold and produces untranquilizing (or detranquilizing) effects.

Danijela Puresevic