press release

In the beginning of the 1970s and under the patronage and organization of Sisak Ironworks, an art colony was founded which, over the course of almost 20 years (1971-1990), gathered about two hundred eminent artists (among which were Ivan Kozaric, Dusan Dzamonja, Ratko Petric, Perusko Bogdanic, Milena Lah and many others) and produced more than two thousand artworks in the medium of painting, sculpture and photography. The existence of such a symbiosis between art and a factory enables us to search for parallels between a worker and artist: for both, the final instance of their 'vocation' and their work is located in the production process whose final materialization is visible and palpable, whether it concerns a metallurgic product or sculpture made by an artist associated with the Colony. Besides providing the artists (participants of the Colony) with raw material, the factory also bought their artworks, offering them as gifts to workers to reward their various achie vements. This could be read as a closing of the cyclic production process: worker – raw material – artist – artwork – worker.

What remains today of this fruitful collaboration and the complex relation between worker and artist is but 30-odd derelict and damaged sculptures situated in the public area of the Ironworks workers' settlement, a destiny alike that of the factory's workers whose number used to equal more than 14000 and is today reduced to not more than 1000. 

The exhibition The Ironworks Phenomenon is part of the longterm research project titled Invisible Sisak, developed by artist Marijan Crtalic. The exhibition presents one segment of the research, dealing with the long-lasting, but inadequately 'visible' existence of the Art colony in Sisak. By collecting the abundant archive material, as well as documenting and presenting the present state of Sisak Ironworks and artifacts produced in its Art colony, the artist not only seeks to record the 'then' and 'now', but also wishes to question the broader dispositif - the status of workers today as well as the new dynamics of transitional capitalism, their side effects and consequences.

Marijan Crtalic was born in 1968 in Sisak. He graduated painting in 1992 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, under professor Vasilije Jordan. For years he has been an active protagonist of the Croatian contemporary art scene. His work was shown on numerous solo and group exhibitions.

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Marijan Crtalic
Invisible Sisak - The Ironworks Phenomenon