Igor Peter Meluzin — Trump Tower

Igor Peter Meluzin is considered one of the key figures of Slovak action art of the 1980s and installation and intermedia art of the 1990s...

Inventory No.: F 137
Artist: Igor Peter Meluzin
Title: Trump Tower (Classical Migraine)
Year: 1997
Technique: combined technique
Material: combined material
Dimensions: variable
Signature: none

Igor Peter Meluzin is considered one of the key figures of Slovak action art of the 1980s and installation and intermedia art of the 1990s. He was an avid creator of action art, performances, installations and video installations which often carried a social-critical subtext. His characteristic tools were irony, sarcasm and subversion and his work often reflected upon the institutional criticism of art performance and the subject of virtual and media image of the world. He also used to research the vulnerability and mortality of the human body and create actions on the border of sports and art. Some of the typical features of his video installations were the adoption of pre-existing television broadcasts, the approximation of images and meanings of mainstream visual culture and visual and linguistic games. Most of his work is known for his conceptual thinking and interest in various dystopian expressions.

Katarína Bajcurová described his work and personality very precisely in her text about the Meluzen exhibition which was held at Bratislava’s Gallery 19 in 2014: “We all remember Peter Meluzin as an artist of brisk imagination, absurd metaphor, hyperbolism and dark humour, a master of linguistic and visual irony (even self-irony) and sarcastic demystification who was able to use the tools of new media, mostly video and installation, very effectively. The mental and moral appeal of his works is usually aimed against consumer stereotypes and bad manners of today’s civilisation and pop-culture.” [1]

The Trump Tower (Classical Migraine) video installation in the collection of the Nitra Gallery consists of a projected photography of Ivana Trump (Donald Trump’s ex-wife) with her head “cut off” while posing in her luxury apartment. Hat cases of various sizes are scattered across the floor in front of the projection wall. They contain illuminated colour slides of tomographic head slices showing the diagnose “classical migraine”. This over 20-year-old piece has been up-to-date again lately. Donald Trump, who lives in his own skyscraper called Trump Tower in New York City, has been in the office of the President of the United States since 2017 and is facing a lot to criticism due to his numerous scandals, such as pressuring Ukraine’s high political officials or the influence of Russia on the 2016 Presidential election which Trump won.

Zora Rusinová included an interesting description of the work in her monograph about Peter Meluzin: “Using a wall projection of a famous celebrity portrait posing in her purple dress inside of a luxurious interior, he outlined his story about boredom and shallowness covered in gold. The slim figure of an elegant headless naiad represents a symbol of wealth and comfort tormented with migraines. She entered our world from the projection screen as a phantom from an out-of-reach world. The only authentic thing left is the collection of hat cases scattered across the floor with various phases of the diagnosis and illuminated tomographies of human brain. The expressive tension between real objects and the projected image is in line with the two kinds of realities we experience every day: our own psychophysical experience, but also the virtual invasion of outside information which overpowers and erases the former one” [2]

Igor Peter Meluzin was born on September 13, 1947 in Bratislava. Between 1965 – 1968, he studied electrical engineering at the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, between 1968 – 1970 sociology at the Comenius University in Bratislava. Finally, between 1977 – 1983, he studied printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava under prof. Jozef Chovan and Ladislav Čemický. Between 1991 – 2003, he taught at Josef Vydra School of Applied Arts where he also led the Department of Graphic Design. Between 2003 – 2008 he served as the school’s headmaster. Before 1989, he was one of the key representatives of the unofficial art scene who focused mostly on action art. Together with Július Koller and Radislav Matuštík, they founded a creative group called TERRAIN I – V (1982 – 1985). He also published several samizdat which documented his activities and the work of his colleagues from the unofficial art scene. In the spring of 1989, he initiated the show titled The Basement – a legendary group “intermedia” in situ installation and object exhibition held in the basement of an apartment building at Konventná Street in Bratislava. From the 1990s, he mostly worked on installations, later also on intermedia and multimedia installations. He was a co-founder and member of the group called Čenkovej deti (1990), later renamed to Untitled (1994). He spent his last years in Prievidza. He died unexpectedly on August 6, 2019 at the age of 71.

[1] Katarína Bajcurová, January 2014, exhibition text MELUZEN at Gallery 19 in Bratislava (quoted from the gallery’s website: http://www.galeria19.sk/2014/peter-meluzin/, accessed November 14, 2019).
[2] SIKOROVÁ-PUTIŠOVÁ Mira, MELUZIN Peter (eds.): meluzin. Žilina : The Art Gallery of Považie, 2017, ISBN: 978-80-88730-96-5, p. 195-196.

Omar Mirza
November 2019