Pain, 1990


The game of Pain, 1977
For one player, a die is rolled when one wants to, the game lasts seven minutes.


… when I say power, I am not only thinking of the power of the state and of its institutions but also of the hundreds of different powers that become intertwined, coming from different sides.  They come from states and from individuals, from East and West, from “friends” and from the administration. These powers are to be found everywhere: in the newspapers, in language, in the arts, in the “given freedom”, in the truth and in my fear.

I have always wanted to write how subtle power was. And I did. Power is cynical, occasionally subtle (can that be) but more or less crude and open. Power is characterized by the total ignorance of others. That cynicism of power is caused by not knowing about things and even the desire not to know.

A story

In the middle of the day it (power) says good night and looks me in the eyes and I feel ashamed for it. I know that one day I shall repeat good night (for one learns by repetition even unconsciously), but through repetition one does not learn only to repeat but also to forget.

In my art I showed that cynicism of power, convinced that in comparison with that cynicism art was nothing, absolutely nothing. I am convinced that art is nothing. Nothing, pain. A manifestation of powerlessness, visionlessness, a blindness, deafness, … a pain that lasts …, in zero.

When I say pain, questions are immediately raised: what pain, whose pain, wherefrom the pain, as if pain had to be explained, analyzed. There’s nothing to be explained…. the pain is there.

“Together with language you’ve learnt the notion of pain” said L. Wittgenstein, and I say: in a twofold way, as pain and as pain language. Pain is not in language. Language inflicts pain. “Words that you hear inflict pain and the words that you pronounce. Nothing hurts, because you do not know what it means to feel pain, and everything hurts, for you do not know the meaning of anything. Since you do not know the name of anything, everything inflicts pain, although you do not know that it hurts, for you do not know what the phrase “to feel pain” means. (P. Handke: Kaspar). The artist is Kaspar. Just as Kaspar learnt from Wittgenstein so Wittgenstein will learn from Kaspar.

a – painaback – painabandon – painabash – pain

abate – pain

abbey – pain

abbreviate – pain

abdicate – pain

abdomen – pain

abduct – pain

abed – painabet – painabeyance – painabhor – pain

abide – pain

ability – pain

abject – pain

abjure – pain

able – pain

abnegate – pain

aboard – painall – painabode – painabolish – pain

abolition – pain

abominable – pain

abortion – pain

acclamation – pain

acclimatize – pain

acclivity – pain

etc. whole dictionary.

Mladen Stilinović, 1994.

First time published in Preoccupations, Galerie l’Ollave, Lyon, 1994

(Translated by Marija Marušić)


Dictionary – Pain, 2000-2003, installation view at Ludwig Museum, Budapest


Dictionary – pain, 2000-2003, detail


Dictionary – pain, 2000-2003, detail

4 thoughts on “PAIN

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