Jasmina Cibic

Charm Offensive

29 October 2022 - 12 February 2023

Charm Offensive is the first solo exhibition by London-based artist Jasmina Cibic (b. 1979 Ljubljana, Slovenia) to be held in Aotearoa New Zealand. Working across film, performance and installation, Cibic’s practice explores the relationships between culture and political power within both historical and contemporary frames. Art and architecture become tools to highlight and reconsider notions of soft power, nation building and the deployment of political agendas and ideologies. Bringing Cibic’s major three-channel film The Gift (2021) together with a new site-specific installation, Charm Offensive (2022), this exhibition is shaped around the concept of gifting – raising questions about cultural gifting as a tool for power and political dominance. 

The Gift is a dystopian drama and consolidates decades of Cibic’s research into soft power, with all the film’s dialogue drawn directly from archival letters, transcripts and records from key moments of European crises in the 20th century. The work follows an artist, a diplomat and an engineer as they compete to determine a gift, a symbol, that will realign society and heal a fractured nation in a time of crisis. With the expectation that the gift will be ‘politically adequate and aesthetically impressive’, the three men present their ideas to four judges who are based on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s concept of the Four Freedoms: The Freedom from Fear, from Want, of Speech and of Worship. The film’s locations, including the French Communist Headquarters, Paris; the Palace of Nations, Geneva; and the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, are all political gifts themselves. 

Charm Offensive delves into the politics and gifting of names, as an act of colonisation and political coding. Plants play an important role in the forming of a national landscape. Many of the Latin taxonomic names of plant species reflect the botanists and imperial explorers who are credited with their discovery in Western science, such as Hans Sloane, Joseph Banks, James Cook, George Hibbert and Carl Linnaeus. Acting as agents of empire, these namesakes become tools of colonisation and political authority. In Charm Offensive, Cibic has subverted this process, collaborating with a group of botanical illustrators from around the world to create images using only the Latin plant name as the reference point. Alongside these are etchings of fences and barriers that are drawn from architectural plans for botanical gardens – sites that were traditionally created for the collection, research and display of exotic plant species. They also incorporate excerpts from texts that have been extracted from the botanical context and redeployed within political and diplomatic language. 

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Ko ‘He Kōkiritaka Turipū’ te whakaaturaka takitahi tuatahi ka tū ki Aotearoa mai i te rikatoi noho ki Rānana, a Jasmina Cibic (whānau mai i te tau 1979, Ljubljana, Horowinia). E whakawhiti ana tana mahi ki te kiriata, ki te whakaaturaka, ki te toi puni hokika, ā, ka whakatōmenetia te mahi a Cibic te honoka ki waeka i te ahurea me te mana tōrakapū ki roto i te akaaka kōrero tāhuhu, me te akaaka o te nāianei. Ka huri te toi me te mahi hoahoa whare hai taputapu whakamiramira, hai taputapu wero i te whakaaro ariā o te mana māriri, o te whakapakari iwi, ā, o te whakahoraka o kā kaupapa tōrakapū me kā momo whakapono. Ko te tui mai o te kiriata hokere e toru matua o Cibic, ko ‘Te Koha’ (The Gift, 2021) me te toi puni takiwā pū hou a ‘He Kōkiritaka Turipū’ (Charm Offensive, 2022), ko ahuahuria tēnei whakaaturaka ki te huatau o te takoha – ka toko ake te urupounamu mō te tikaka takoha hai taputapu o te taumautaka o te mana whakahaere, o te mana tōrakapū hoki.

He matawaeka paki houmate a ‘Te Koha’ (The Gift), ā, ka whakatōpūhia tā Cibic rakahau i kā kahuru-tau ki te mana māriri, ko te whakawhitika kōrero i roto i tō mai i kā pūraka tuhika reta, i kā kape tuhi me kā rokika kōrero mai i kā wā matua o kā tairaru Uropi i te rautau 20. Ko tā tēnei mahi, ko te whai i tētahi rikatoi, i tētahi takawaeka kāwanataka, ā, i tētahi kaipūkaha hoki i a rātou e whakataetae ana ki te whakatau i te āhua o te koha nei, ka noho hai tohu whakahākai i te pāpori, ā, hai tohu whakaora i tētahi whenua e noho tauwehe ana i te wā tonu o te tairaru. E iri ana te tūmanako hāweawea ā-tōrakapū, ā, he mea kapo ake hoki i te tirohaka takata tēnei nei koha, ka whakaaturia e te tokotoru tākata nei ō rātou whakaaro ki kā konohi kainukere e whā i takea mai rātau i te ariā nā Franklin D. Roosevelt o kā Herekore e Whā: Te weteka o te here ki te Matakū, ki te Pīkoko, ki te Kōrero, ki te Koropiko. Ko kā wāhi tū ai te kiriata nei ko te Tari Matua o te Tōpūtaka-ā-Iwi o Wīwī, Parī, te Whare Whakamīharo o kā Iwi, Hinīwa, me te Whare Whakamīharo o te Ahurea me te Pūtaiao ki Wōhō, ā, he koha tōrakapū hoki ēnei wāhi katoa.

Ka ruku atu a ‘He Kōkiritaka Turipū’ ki te tōrakapū o te koha i te ikoa, hai mahi whakatāmi, hai tohu muna tōrakapū hoki. He wāhi nui ki kā tipu i te ahuahu o te whenua o tētahi iwi. Ko te rahika o kā ikoa pūnaha whakarōpū Rātini o kā momo otaota, ka tapaina ki kā kaimātai huaota, ā, ki kā kaiurutomo emepaea hoki ko tā te kōrero nā rātau ērā otaota i hura ki te ao Pūtaiao o te Tūāpori o te Rātō, pērā i a Hans Sloane, i a Joseph Banks, i a James Cook, i a George Hibbert, i a Carl Linnaeus hoki. I tō rātau tūraka hai rika o te emepaea, ka tū ēnei tapaka ota hai rika raupatu, hai rika tāmi, hai mana tōrakapū. Ki ‘He Kōkiritaka Turipū’, ko turakihia tēnei tukaka e Cibic, nā tana mahi kātahi ki tētahi huka whakatauira huaota ā-ao ki te tā i kā whakaahua me kā ikoa Rātini anake o te otaota hai tohutoro. Hai hoa mō ēnei nā he mātātuhi waikawa o kā taiapa, o kā taero ko tō mai i kā tauira mahi hoahoa whare mō kā māra huaota – he wāhi i whakatūria i kā rā ki te kohi, ki te rakahau, ā, ki te whakaatu hoki i kā momo otaota rāwaho. Ka komokomo hoki he wāhaka tuhika ko tako ake mai i te horopaki huaota, ā, kātahi ka hora anō atu ki te reo tōrakapū, ki te reo whakahakahaka hoki. 


Click here to explore Jasmina Cibic’s work Charm Offensive (2022)

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