Materials: 523 pieces; tempera on printed paper
Dimensions: 7 1⁄16 x 5 1⁄8 in. (18 x 13 cm) each
Credit: Collection of the artist
Stilinović is known for his interrogation of ideological power as it is created and maintained by symbolism, systems of bureaucracy, and language. In Stilinović’s words: “There are two main weapons authority has… money and language.” Dictionary—Pain presents all 523 pages of an English dictionary, in which Stilinović has painted out every definition and replaced it with the word “pain.” Stilinović mines the fraught territory between the sensation of pain and its articulation into language.
Here the dictionary represents power—the power of naming, defining, and organizing language, and thus culture—in the same way that white walls are seen by some as representing the power of a museum or gallery to define culture. By both replicating and obliterating these symbols, Stilinović intended to “abolish, you might say, this kind of ideological sign. I want to abolish it with an emotional, certainly not a rational, gesture, by linking all the words in the dictionary of pain… Pain for me is the very opposite of power, power actually produces it, it is the consequence of power.”