Two men sit at a table, sipping coffee and talking fitfully about art. The man on the right is thoughtful and anxious, wondering aloud what art is and whether he can legitimately call himself an artist. The man on the left, a more sceptical and irreverent character who has, apparently, little interest in either of those questions, tries at first to reassure his companion but soon loses patience and finally throws a glass of water in his face.
Let me describe Gatanje, another video by Devlin. Again, two figures are seated at a table, drinking coffee. One of them is the Devlin himself, who is conversing in Serbo-Croat with a middle-aged woman. It soon becomes clear that the woman is a fortune-teller who will shortly try to read the artist’s future in his coffee dregs. When she asks him what he wants to know, he says he is wondering whether he will be successful as an artist—or should he just give up?
There is a lightness of touch in Devlin’s work. We encounter it in the use of conversation for instance in Drazen where Devlin and a friend sit at a café drinking coffee and discussing the nature of coffee and the performance of its making. His friend speaks of a coffee maker whose reputation draws people to seek him out to taste the magical combination of flavours and to experience its philosophy, by implication becoming something of a quest. He speaks with a persuasive authority lightly subverted when we discover he himself has never tried it, only heard about it and been drawn by the allure.