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Haralampi G. Oroschakoff
by Iwan Kovak

Haralampi G. Oroschakoff, "Double Cross: Yugoslavia" 1996

In our immediate vicinity, something incomprehensible has taken place. A region of Europe, the former Yugoslavia, has reverted to barbarity, waging a war in which everyone is fighting against everyone else, with the result that there can be no winners, but rather, only losers. A great deal has been said and the commentaries are manifold. Most of this has been a point of view evoked and propagated by the mass media and revolving around the causes and sources of the Yugoslavian civil war; the all too simple differentiation of good and evil, of perpetrators and victims.

For years, renowned intellectuals, magazines and newspapers have sworn to the public--in some instances deliberately falsely or at least recklessly--that the blame for the Balkan War is to be found solely with the "bloodthirsty" Serbs. Philosophers, whose task is customarily to question the generalizing viewpoints and prejudices which arise as a result of political and social events and to replace these with cogent arguments, have joined forces with American PR agencies. These Manipulations have considerably influenced international communication about the third Balkan War in this century; indeed, they have allowed this to become an even larger media event than the Gulf War waged under the patronage of the United Nations.

From an entirely unexpected source, namely art, now comes an additional commentary on Yugoslavia, which, however, causes one to prick up one's ears. In the Galerie Hohenthal and Bergen, the artist-theoretician Haralampi G. Oroschakoff, who lives and works in Munich, presents an installation comprised of illustrations, videos, press reports and historical documents which impressively verify the duration of this conflict. Oroschakoff arouses consternation; he turns a knife in the wound. Twelve black double crosses represent the various national groups in Yugoslavia: Serbs, Montenegrins, Slovenes, Bosnians, Croatians, Macedonians, Albanians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Roumanions, Wallachians and Italians. As a result of Oroschakoff's specific painting technique, the crosses will appear to be spotlighted for a fleeting moment. These are confronted with painted flags of the newly founded states within the borders of former Yugoslavia. A mixture of various national groups--which has always been pervaded by invisible denominational boundaries--Islam, Byzantine and Roman Christianity all come together here. Influence and spheres of interest of various great powers have clashed and continue to clash with each other here in the Balkans.

Presented in the form of two lavish books, comprehensive compilations of the Western press's coverage of the formation of the new Eastern states since the beginning of Perestroika (1987) characterize the archaeological methods of Oroschakoff in this exhibition. Oroschakoff's logically consistent analysis of the East/West dialogue directly lead to the exhibition "Double Cross: Yugoslavia." The double cross, which has been a significant leitmotif within Oroschakoff's work since 1984, is also a symbol for the individual consciousness of man's own identity. The artist developed the form of the double cross (mullion and transom of a cross window, facial cross and figure cross) on the basis of the monochrome, or rather, the utopian concept of abstraction. With the Byzantine cross-form and its claim to spirituality, he refers to its origin, that is to say the East. Contrary to the transparency of earlier crosses, this black series offers no prospect. They remain prisoners of themselves.

"Double Cross: Yugoslavia" attempts to deal with the misfortune (perpetrator and victim) of the multicultural mix of various national groups on the same level as the question of blame. The goal of the exhibition is to question the intellectual tutelage on the part of the media, since this steers away from the actual crux of the conflict. The viewer is offered an objectified representation which, outside the blocks of opinion, deals with the historical and, especially, the human component of the participating national groups on the same level. Haralampi G. Oroschakoff's instant archaeology neither provides solutions nor places blame, but is rather a fair and thought provoking stock-taking. The publication Kraeftemessen has been printed and distributed by Cantz-Verlag; an exhibition on East-Eastern positions in the Western world, conceived and organized by Haralampi G. Oroschakoff in Munich, in 1995. The historically significant book includes contributions by Margarita Tupitsyn, Boris Groys, Viktor Misiano, Sabine Haensgen, Jekaterina Degot, Nikita Alexejev and others. Orders may be placed through the gallery.

Iwan Kovak

Munich, Germany

Translated from German by Gerard Goodrow

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