Entropic State is a collection of artworks from a research trip to Labin and its surrounding areas in Istria in 2021. These works respond to a landscape shaped by the ever-changing ideological currents reflected in the region's architecture and dilapidated industrial infrastructure.

Building on the relationship between architecture, landscape and ideology, Entropic State expands on Entering the Control Zone, previously exhibited at the Museum of Fine Art, Split in 2021.

The exhibition's works delved into the contrast between the idealistic, futuristic architecture of Split 3 housing development in Croatia and the covert, paranoid architecture of the area’s military bunkers and secret installations. However, the new works shifted their focus to the architectural influence of Istria’s industrial history.

Conor McGrady, Sector X
Photo by icon Conor McGrady, Sector X


In the DKC ”Lamparna” gallery, we have a unique opportunity to present the works of the Northern Irish artist Conor McGrady and thus, at least on a symbolic level, to balance the process of mass emigration of Croats to Ireland. Conor has already presented himself to the Croatian audience with the solo exhibition "Entering the Control Zone" staged in the Art Gallery-Split in 2021. In the same year, he stayed in Labin and, through site-specific research, collected enough relevant data to shape into the exhibition "Entropic State", which conceptually elaborates the relationship between the ideology, architecture and topography of Labin. The locality of Labin, Raša, as well as the surroundings of those two cities, becomes a platform that Conor appropriates for the purpose of creating images through which he accentuates the historical heritage of this region, which is strongly marked by industrial heritage and the alternating ideological currents that have shaped it: from monarchist to fascist, and from communist to neo-liberal. Their common denominator can be understood as entropy since these once socialist and industrial sites are now, to the greatest extent, claimed by nature and the inexorable processes of decay. In the words of the author himself: "Landscapes (the surroundings of Labin and Raša) operate here as a national signifier that is also ideological, framed by romanticism and the sublime as key elements within the representational state-building framework. Within this context, architecture haunts landscapes, while the memory of rituals related to work, body and resistance calls into question the falling into oblivion of these unrestored ideological monuments." Conor's work can thus be read as relating to the Croatian state in general, whose socio-political processes he clearly denounces as corrupt with the previously quoted sentence. Moreover, the very name of the exhibition "Entropic State" simultaneously evokes a more colloquial and pejorative phrase with a similar meaning: “Banana Republic”.

This exhibition masterfully confirms its relevance in the fact that at the state level "Our Beautiful..." everything is subordinated to the neo-liberal investment logic that leaves former industrial sites to decay, while exposing the tourist attractive ones to the relentless attack of pneumatic hammers, concretization and uncontrolled eco-urbanicide. Labin, Raša and Rabac are glaring examples that confirm the stated thesis of the dialectic of destruction and their own position between the "hammer and the anvil", that is, between seemingly contradictory procedures, which in fact both lead to the same goal: entropy. The discourse of the vulgar "expansion of capacity" for its own sake is identical to the indolent-ignorant practice of abandoning less lucrative localities, while those, which are more attractive from a tourist and financial perspective, are slowly forced by a very aggressive, and equally dubious, economic policy to concede land and profits to foreign companies. Therefore, Conor's exhibition can be understood as a warning that neo-liberal market processes do not confine themselves to economic and investment questions. They aim to extend their tentacles much further, to literally adapt the human spirit and our perception of reality itself to their requirements. Systematic eco- and urbanicide throughout the landscape and infrastructure of the cities of Labinština logically implies an at least equally "disbanded" (or inactive) culturecide. But, to be fair, the same practices apply to all the other cities of our entropic state, or if you will, the Banana Republic. In his book "The Uses of Imagination and the Decline of the West", Elemire Zola wrote: "The work of art has become a banknote, another token to settle a debt or play in casinos." A suitable quote to illustrate the neo-liberal simplification of life processes so that nothing can resist the unhindered fluctuation of capital, under the auspices of the phrase "Mother for sale!" coined by the famous Serbian conceptual artist Dragoljub Raša Todosijević. Within the sphere of urbanism, such greying out is translated into residential blocks and a concreted coast, proportional to the massification of tourism, while in the sphere of culture and art we witness a linear transition towards cheap sensationalism and the "apartmentisation" of the cultural institutions belonging to it. It must be clearly pointed out that Conor McGrady is not trying to patronize the local population with this exhibition, explaining to them where they live and what processes they are exposed to. He goes much deeper into the fabric of the global phenomenon which he dissects from one of one of the margins of Europe and seems to state that if there is no radical annihilation of the neo-liberal paradigm, there will be only one result: There is no hiding place!

Damir Stojnic

Labin Art Express

Conor McGrady - Sector VIII
Photo by icon Conor McGrady - Sector VIII

Conor McGrady is an artist from the north of Ireland. He has exhibited internationally, with one-person exhibitions in New York, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta and Zagreb, Croatia. His first solo museum exhibition, Entering the Control Zone, took place at the Museum of Fine Art, Split, Croatia, 2021. Group exhibitions include the 2002 Whitney Biennial in New York, The Jerusalem Show VII: Fractures (Qalandiya International Biennale), Biennale of Contemporary Art, D-0 Ark Underground, Sarajevo-Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina. His writing has appeared in Ruminations on Violence (2007) State of Emergence (2011), State in Time (2012) and The Design of Frontier Spaces (2015). Dean of Academic Affairs at Burren College of Art he lives and works in the Burren, Ireland.