The first time I met Tomislav he was running a stall in the Brick Lane Sunday market stocked full of Balkan gypsy music and art and political theory books. Instantly I could sense that this was no ordinary marketplace operation – and that it posed a grave danger to attempts to limit my budget for acquiring new books and music. Who was this strange man and how had he managed to bring together such a combination of ideas, arts, and cultures into the format of a market stall? And what was he trying to accomplish, since despite the alleged love of hipsters and the creative class for all that is new, unique, or exotic, it hardly seemed that the artistic workers of the Brick Lane market were making off with anything like a livable amount of sales?
Immediately I could tell that Tomislav’s practice was much more about hawking ideas, histories, myths, and stories – woven fragments in a world that seemed yet to awake – more so then anything close to a typical commercial operation. He dressed in a tan vest, much like the one that Joseph Beuys wore, emblazoned with the German phrase for “Joseph Beuys is overrated” – in much the way that Beuys used the phrase “the silence of Marcel Duchamp is overrated.” What was this? A joke? Satire? A layering of references and histories to be discovered if you want to do the digging? A tribute to artists such as Beuys and Duchamp? As I learned over time and conversation with Tomislav the answer could only be yes, to all of those possibilities, and at the same time. Tomislav had taken up and inverted Beuys-Duchamp’s silences for his own purposes, building his own mythologies and practices, such as in his Beuys Homme, the ready (made)to-wear mythopoetic clothing and olfactory line. It never existed, but in that almost existing, it was more then real.
And this is what we see across all of Tomislav’s work, the mutating and recombined aesthetic inspirations, lost but not forgotten dreams, hopes, and histories. They are neither here nor there, but rather as trails of breadcrumbs we might have left through the forest of our memories to find our way out. But Tomislav, ever the trickster, has leavened the bread with a good dose of philosophy, wit and wisdom, such that we know there is no way to find the centre of the forest, to find the way out, or to find our way home. You can never go home again, so you might as well start thinking about how to build new homes and histories. As Beckett might say, you fail again but then maybe you will fail better.
Atatürk Airport, Istanbul, 5:34AM, February 14th, 2016