I saw down with the three members of the art group and collective, Circulacija 2 at their headquarters in the heating station of the Rog Factory – the former, and now disused (for its original purpose), bicycle factory in the center of Ljubljana. Their location provides a clue about their name, as they find themselves in the former energy center of the factory, the place responsible for circulating heat throughout the surrounding buildings. Stefan Doepner, Borut Savski, and Boštjan Leskovšek, founding and permanent members of the group, were also joined that afternoon by Dejan Knez, another squatter at Rog, painter and musician, and member of both Laibach and another music group together with Doepner, 300,000 V.K.
It is probably difficult to really understand what Cirkulacja 2 is without having witnessed one of their events first-hand. Hearing about them just cannot convey the sense of the total work of art or collective activity and events that they organize. Collectivity, open access, bricolage (tinkering, and making due with the random elements one encounters or possesses) seem to be key elements in the group’s work. Their work suggests an alternative model to neo-liberal market capitalism.
Their workshop resembles that of a mad scientist, for more reasons that one. On the day that I went there, one of the members was washing out his soup bowl in a make-shift sink, made from empty bowls and a plastic water jug. This demonstrates the dedication to their art – so committed to the idea of free expression and open access that they are willing to do without the creature comforts. Although I visited there in summer, I sit writing this in the middle of winter, and can’t help but wonder whether the three artist-scientists are there right now, shivering as they create.
What they create is a mix of art, science and social projects. Their workshop is filled with tools, things, machines, thingamajiggies…I don’t even know what I was looking at. But what I do know is that they use all of those things to make art and sound/music. When I was there, they started playing something that created sound based on magnetic energy, and when they sound changed, they suggested that a satellite was passing overhead. This instrument is emblematic of the way that the artists take the aural and physical landscape surrounding them and reshape it into art.
Their interest in science extends to cybernetics and even artificial intelligence. They have designed machines and robots that respond to their surroundings, and thus have unpredictable movement. They have made their own instruments that have created new sounds, and in their exhibitions, they often redesign or reshape interiors, to defamiliarize them and create a new understanding of the surrounding space – such was the case with their recent exhibition at the Center for Contemporary Art at Metelkova, where they opened the space of the gallery up to the outside by creating a backyard porch, that the employees continued to use even after the exhibition had closed.
The artists admit that perhaps not everyone who attends one of their events or witnesses one of their performances will completely “get” their work, but perhaps that is not the ultimate aim. Maybe it is enough for the viewer to come, take it in, and hopefully take something away with them.