The Croatian artist Slaven Tolj rose to international acclaim with his installations, body-art and performances, all of which mirror a distinctive political and sociocultural criticism. His initial steps as an artist were directly shaped by his experiences during the Yugoslav war, the collapse of the state and, in particular, the conquest of Dubrovnik by the Yugoslav army in 1991-92. In the late 1990s, Slaven Tolj gradually expanded his field of work by incorporating new motifs such as political change, multicultural existence and globalisation. He is also active as curator and in various art organisations. He was, for instance, one of the founders of the Art Workshop Lazareti in Dubrovnik, which is now setting the tone in the contemporary art scene of Dubrovnik and Croatia. Tolj is since 2013 director of MMSU RijekaRead more
In his works, Slaven Tolj primarily concentrates on the torn structure of Dubrovnik’s society, his native town, where he lives and works. He calmly examines the relationships and remains of the war from his personal and reserved angle. Instead of producing documentary work and activism, Tolj considers it more appropriate to act indirectly; criticizing from the inside, in a way that the effect of said criticism on reality can only be difficultly assessed, even though the value of his oeuvre for the symbolic part of art is not questioned. The central motif of his work is avoiding direct language and images, he works by deliberately leaving aside and omitting things. Tolj places his work within the narrow borderline between the visible and invisible – by either choosing photography, installation, performance or the concrete as his media. The barely perceptible crack contained in his work adds energy to it, which – regardless of how personal it may seem – critically examines the political aspect of art or the concept of art for a broader audience.