Damir Očko 

From February 11 to April 9, 2016
Opening on February 11 at 7 pm

Visit the exhibition with the artist on February 11 between 6 pm and 7 pm!


The work of Damir Očko explores, both formally and in the topics taken up, the dislocation effected by passing from one language to another, from sound to images, from the rhythm of a poem to that of the reciting body and, ultimately, by the wish to embody the political. His videos juxtapose music, images and performances in situations in which the body is confronted with its limits: language pathologies, disability, physical exploits. In his work, Očko makes seemingly disconnected things co-exist, instituting a complex network of relations through distortions and breaks between things that would appear to be mutually exclusive. One can nevertheless not help seeing in the latent violence of his work a reflection of the present-day state of the world, in which a troubling instability is concealed beneath seeming tranquility. One of the constants of his work, which could be seen as a political gesture in itself, is that no element dominates the other: we hear and see distinctly each part of the whole.


The starting point of Damir Očko’s exhibition is the work The Moon shall never take my Voice, in which a deaf woman “recites” in sign language three texts which speak of silence: the first is by Gustav Mahler, the second by John Cage, and the third freely inspired by Neil Armstrong. Her performance is punctuated by a soundtrack which she does not hear, but which is in perfect harmony with her gestures. There then follow, in a kind of exhibition choreography, three other works, in sequence but always focusing the sound in the centre of the space.

SPRING, a poem, a musical score and a cinematic composition, explores the concepts of oppression and resistance. A voice recites four poems and is projected onto a body clearly foreign to it. There occasionally rise up impromptu landscapes moving to the sound of different vocal acoustic effects: silence, humming and language. Inspired by an eight-part poem, TK presents concurrently an old man suffering from Parkinson’s disease and a group of young men naked in the extreme cold. In a meticulously orchestrated narration, the pauses, silences, voice and writings lead towards the representation of a loss of control. In We saw nothing but the uniform blue of the Sky, relatively banal black-and-white scenes of a beach are contrasted with peculiar images in warm tones depicting three methods of signalling: light, smoke and sound. As the images file past, a man with a severe speech impediment recites a poem with astonishing concentration.

A graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Damir Očko (1977) lives and works in Croatia. His work has been shown widely in Europe and was recently the subject of solo exhibitions, Studies on Shivering, at Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien (KM–), and The Kingdom of Glottis, at the Palais de Tokyo. He has held residencies at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart and the Temple Bar Gallery + Studios in Dublin, among other venues. He represented Croatia at the Venice Biennale in 2015.

This exhibition was organised for Dazibao by France Choinière, in close collaboration with the artist. We thank the artist for his generous collaboration as well as our members for their support.

Dazibao receives financial support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the Ville de Montréal.