Fotografija je ženskega spola
It's a Woman's world of Photography (english text below)

Galerija Rika Debenjaka Kanal: 11. 11. 2011 - 4. 12. 2011
Kulturni dom Bovec: 10. 12. 2011 - 31. 1. 2012

Fotografije postavitve in otvoritve Kanal / photos of exhibition and opening Kanal
Fotografije postavitve in otvoritve Bovec / Photos of exhibition and opening Bovec

Monika Ivančič Fajfar
Fotografija kot zapis ideje

V ciklusu razstav z naslovom Umetnost je ženskega spola se že četrto leto zapored predstavljajo avtorice, ki se izražajo v t.i. klasičnih likovnih zvrsteh. Razstave Slika je ženskega spola (2008), Skulptura je ženskega spola (2009) in Grafika je ženskega spola (2010), so pokazale delo trinajstih aktualnih slovenskih umetnic – slikark, kipark in grafičark. Tokrat so na vrsti fotografinje. Na razstavi Fotografija je ženskega spola predstavljamo dela Ane Sluga, Špele Volčič, Tanje Verlak, Urške Boljkovac, Urške Nine Cigler in Vanje Bučan. To so ustvarjalke, ki so aktivne fotografinje oziroma fotografski medij uporabijo v polju likovne umetnosti na drugačne načine.

Fotografija je najmlajši medij med doslej predstavljenimi. Boj za uveljavitev fotografije v svetu umetnosti je trajal kar dolgo in še danes ni povsem zaključen, saj so debate o umetniški vrednosti fotografije postale z novimi digitalnim tehnologijami znova aktualne. Ob svojem rojstvu se je fotografija precej naslonila na slikarstvo – oba medija sta si po likovnih izraznih sredstvih kot sestra in brat. Ni trajalo dolgo, da je mlajša sestra s svojimi značajskimi lastnostmi in sposobnostmi začela vplivati na slikarstvo in ga preoblikovati, spreminjati ter ga spodbudila za nov razvoj .

Tesen odnos med slikarstvom in fotografijo se kaže tudi na razstavi Fotografija je ženskega spola, ki ni strogo fotografska, ampak je deloma tudi slikarska. Namen razstave namreč ni pouk o fotografskih tehnikah in tehnologijah, čeprav izpostavljamo fotografijo kot ustvarjalni medij.  S to razstavo smo želeli pokazati širino medija v likovnem in vsebinskem smislu ter skozi avtorske predstavitve izbranih ustvarjalk pokazati potencial medija za izražanje avtorskih idej.

Nabor izbranih avtoric je zelo raznolik: nekatere k fotografiji pristopajo na bolj klasičen način, druge bolj eksperimentalno; nekatere izpostavljajo umetniško idejo, ki ji fotografija zgolj omogoči fizično "telo", druge fotografijo vidijo kot pripomoček za slikarsko delo ali dokumentarni zapis estetike vsakdana.

Mitu, da fotografija med upodabljajočimi umetnostmi najbolj avtentično prikaže realnost, že zdavnaj ne verjamemo več. Odnos med realnim in upodobljenim, med fikcijo in resnico, med življenjem in umetnostjo, je na tehtnici tudi na tej razstavi.

ANA SLUGA - PRETEKLOST IN IDENTITETA

Iznajdba fotografije je bila za slikani portret, dotlej tako priljubljen in razširjen slikarski žanr, usodna. Ceneje in bolj prepričljivo je zmogla poustvariti podobo človeka, zato je portretiste hitro prisilila, da so čopiče zamenjali s fotografskimi kamerami. Seveda fotografija ni mogla dokončno izpodriniti slike. Zato pa je fotografija pogosto predloga za slikane portrete. Ana Sluga se naveže na tradicijo slikanega in fotografskega portreta, oba medija pa združuje na poseben način. Njene slike delujejo kot fotografije, hkrati pa so izrazito grafične. Serija ima konceptualno zasnovo in v povezavi z njo avtorica odpira več vprašanj – o tehnološki, vsebinski, vizualni in filozofski naravi izbranih medijev.

Ana Sluga upodablja otroške portrete svojih staršev, sorodnikov in prijateljev. Portretira osebe, ki so ji blizu, a v času, ko jih še ni poznala. Za to potrebuje fotografije, ki jih najde v starih družinskih albumih. Te fotografije nato digitalizira in jih s pomočjo računalniškega programa spremeni v moduliran raster – vzorci iz pik posnemajo grafično tehniko sitotiska. Na ta način avtorica dobi slikarsko predlogo.

Fotografija je torej posredni medij in Ana Sluga ga interpretira kot medij spomina in dokument časa. Fotografska podoba je dokument preteklosti in hkrati vez s to preteklostjo. Ista fotografija pa je v svoji fizični pojavnosti že material za ustvarjanje. Je »ready made« objekt, ki ga avtorica preoblikuje in reciklira v novo umetniško delo. Avtorici nekaj vmesnih ustvarjalnih korakov pomaga opraviti računalnik, a vodilna ostaja avtorska ideja, proces, ki ga nadzoruje človeški razum, in končno, ročno poslikano platno.

Serija portretov deluje enotno, saj avtorica uporablja isti format. A vzorci in barve se ponavljajo le navidezno. Ana Sluga pri vsakem portretu išče osebno noto, drugačen vzorec, posebne barve in različno obdelavo ozadij in platna. Na ta način poudari idejo identitete, ki jo vsebuje že portretni žanr. Portrete vselej spremljajo tudi druge osebne oznake – v tem primeru imena upodobljencev.

Izbor upodobljencev ni naključen – njihova identiteta vzpostavlja avtoričino osebno zgodovino, in tako soustvarja njeno lastno identiteto.

Časovno potovanje v preteklost poudarja tudi slikarski slog, ki učinkuje »retro«. Ana Sluga se navdihuje pri optični umetnosti 60-ih let dvajsetega stoletja. Za t.i. opart je značilno, da skuša na gledalca napraviti močan vizualen vtis. Takšni so tudi portreti Ane Sluga. Obrazi se pred gledalcem izrišejo šele iz večje razdalje, od blizu pa ga z močnim vzorcem potegnejo v migotav vrtinec. To vrtoglavo gibanje je čas, izražen na likovni način – vsebinska zasnova portretov se torej na tej točki slikarsko udejani.

ŠPELA VOLČIČ - POGLED NA ZGODOVINO UMETNOSTI

Serija tihožitij z naslovom Fuscum subnigrum ne skriva svojih izhodišč v flamskem baročnem slikarstvu. Špela Volčič je pri idejni zasnovi posegla tudi po delu Guba filozofa in esejista Gillesa Deleueza in se naslonila na misel filozofa G. W. Liebniza. Skozi prispodobo gubanja izpostavlja gibanje kot eno bistvenih značilnosti baroka. Barok je gubo razvil do neskončnosti, s tem pa seveda vse, kar se guba, zvija in razvija, giblje, spreminja, večno rojeva in poustvarja. Iz tega zornega kota je tudi človek v nenehnem gibanju in nastajanju.

Ena od pomembnejših funkcij baročnega tihožitja je bila razkazovanje bogastva naročnika – materialnega in intelektualnega. Naslikane cvetlice so se bohotile v dragocenih vazah, med njimi tudi eksotične, ki so bile vredne celo bogastvo. Razkošje cvetlic je poudarilo finančno zmožnost naročnikov a tudi njihovo estetsko osveščenost. Umetnost je razkošje, je luksuz, je nadstandard.

Na prvi pogled anahronistična tihožitja Špele Volčič pod površino klasičnega žanra s sodobne perspektive prepletajo vprašanja estetike (umetnosti) in ekonomije. Bujne cvetlice na njenih fotografijah so namreč lažne, umetne, plastične. Plastično cvetje pa velja za ceneno, za kič, za nekaj, kar je na nasprotnem polu estetike in umetnosti. V nasprotju s tulipani, ki so jih baročni petičneži za drag denar uvažali iz Perzije, si lahko danes cvet kitajske proizvodnje privošči slehernik. Umetnost pa je eliti ostala.

Baročni cvetlični šopki so, zaradi kratkotrajnosti svežine cvetlic v vazi, pogosto interpretirani kot opomin na človeško minljivost. Umetno cvetje se v tem pogledu zdi trajno, neuničljivo, neumrljivo. Vendar tudi nikoli ni bilo živo. Umetno cvetje najpogosteje srečamo tam, kjer je človek odsoten. Na grobovih in v prostorih, kjer za žive rastline ni primernih življenjskih pogojev in kjer jih nihče nima časa negovati.

Tudi likovni kontrast, ki poudarja vsebinskega, si Špela Volčič dosledno izposodi v baroku. Uporabi baročni »chiaroscuro«, kontrast med svetlim in temnim. Iz skoraj črnega ozadja (fuscum subnigrum) se izvijajo posamezni cvetovi. Likovno kipenje, množenje elementov, ponavljanje, gibanje, gubanje in aranžiranje, je v kontrastu z motivom tihožitja. Tihožitje (natura morta) že v svojem imenu nosi smrt. Bujni, bogati in živobarvni šopki ponavljajo to nasprotje in, po avtoričinem mnenju, pripadajo duhu današnjega časa – časa zunanje lepote, ki je le krinka za notranjo plehkost in praznino. Tihožitja Špele Volčič so všečne in hkrati provokativne podobe. Gledalcu ponujajo v razmišljanje nasprotja med videzom in resničnostjo, med originalom in ponaredkom in med umetnostjo in kičem, na njegova vprašanja pa ne želijo dati udobnega odgovora.

TANJA VERLAK - TRENUTKI TIŠINE

Naslov razstavljenega ciklusa – Na želje drugega računaj po sebi – nakazuje raziskovanje sebe v odnosu do drugega. Tanja Verlak se kot posameznica in kot fotografinja postavlja v položaj, s katerega, se zdi, ima na življenje izven sebe le malo vpliva. Njena naloga je sprejemanje tega sveta, kakršen je. Vendar ne gre za absolutno pasivnost – avtorica je aktivna v beleženju videnega, odreče pa se preoblikovanju videnega v estetskem in vsebinskem smislu. Na zunanji svet se odziva s svojim notranjim dojemanjem. Njeno fotografiranje je izrazito subjektivno in neodvisno od tehnike, žanrov ali estetskih klišejev.

Fotografska serija, ki je narejena v analogni črno beli tehniki, deluje klasično. Vendar k takšnemu dojemanju njenega dela prispevajo tudi izbrani prizori, ki so prostorsko in časovno nedorečeni. Takšna je tudi predstavljena serija, ki je nastajala v New Delhiju in New Yorku, a je geografsko poreklo posameznih fotografij  težko razbrati. Ker so dokazi časa in prostora na njenih fotografijah zabrisani, njene fotografije delujejo univerzalno in tudi nekoliko arhaično.

Odsotnost prostora in časa daje fotografijam Tanje Verlak nekoliko melanholičen, liričen ton. Avtorica prepušča veliko prostora za vsebinsko in razpoloženjsko interpretacijo gledalcu. Njene fotografije so tihe, umirjene, negibne. V njih močno začutimo tisti trenutek, ki je značilen v dokumentarni oz. reportažni fotografiji – trenutek, ko fotografska kamera zamrzne čas. Ta zaustavljeni trenutek zaradi svoje negibnosti dobro ponazarja minevanje časa.

Fotografija Tanje Verlak ni obeleženje, temveč zabeleženje trenutka. Dojamemo ga kot trenutek tišine v toku misli. Njene fotografije ne nakazujejo, kaj je bilo trenutek poprej in ne pripovedujejo, kaj se bo zgodilo trenutek potem. Tako (za)ustavljen čas enačimo s smrtjo. Morda nas na takšno interpretacijo napeljuje tudi način, s kakršnim avtorica v svoje fotografije vključuje ljudi in živali. Živa bitja v fotografije vnašajo le malo življenja, saj so upodobljena v pasivnih, statičnih pozah, pogosto pa jim avtorica odvzame tudi druge atribute živosti – njihove oči so zaprte, obrazi so zabrisani ali izgubljeni v mraku sence. Čeprav odsotnost pripovednosti in dinamike lahko dojemamo kot smrt (časa), se zdi za opus Tanje Verlak takšna interpretacija nekoliko klišejska in neposrečena.

Tanja Verlak dobro pozna teorijo in zgodovino fotografije in se zaveda, kakšna bremena estetskih in funkcionalnih zahtev so bila naložena temu mediju. Mogoče prav zato želi v svojem delu fotografijo osvoboditi pripovednosti, posnemanja stvarnosti in estetiziranja realnosti. Njena fotografija je morda tudi zato očiščena slikovitega, dramatičnega, eksotičnega in celo estetskega.

URŠKA BOLJKOVAC - FOTOGRAFIJA V OBJEKTU

Urška Boljkovac v svojem delu združuje več različnih fotografskih žanrov in umetniških pristopov, ki jih poveže z avtobiografskimi vsebinami. Dva ciklusa, ki sta izpostavljena na razstavi, se poigrata z idejo, kako fotografijo umestiti v tridimenzionalni objekt. Delo z naslovom The Image Inside of Me je diplomsko delo, s katerim je avtorica povzela svoje dolgoletno ukvarjanje z gledališko fotografijo. Devet kovčkov kaže na avtoričino devetletno potovanje skozi prostore tega žanra. Diplomsko delo hkrati pomeni postajo na koncu ene in na začetku druge poti: konča se profesionalno usposabljanje, začne se profesionalna kariera. Seveda ta ločnica marsikdaj ni nenadna in tudi vrstni red je lahko obrnjen. Urška Boljkovac, ki se je že v času študija profesionalno ukvarjala s fotografsko dokumentacijo dramskih in plesnih uprizoritev, je tako svojo službeno ustvarjalnost združila z avtorskim delom.

Gledališka fotografija je posebna veja v fotografiji. Tehnično je zahtevna, saj okoliščine fotografu precej omejujejo svobodo gibanja, iskanja ustreznega kadra, uporabo bliskavice, režiranja prizora itd. Poleg tega pa se zdi, da fotografija v resnici ni idealen medij za dokumentiranje gibljive predstave. Gledališka predstava ima svojo vsebino, tekst, izvedbo in interpretacijo, zvočne in svetlobne efekte in, predvsem, gibanje. Tu se jasno pokaže neodvisnost fotografije od realnosti. Fotografija ni posnetek tega, kar je (bilo), ampak je samostojna stvaritev. Urška Boljkovac je naredila korak dlje s kreativnim oblikovanjem in uporabo fotografije. V objekte – potovalne kovčke – je namesto oblačil namestila na blago odtisnjene fotografije predstav. S tem je kovčke napolnila z vsebino, ki so jo narekovale fotografirane predstave. Kostumi, vzdušje in govorica telesa so gledališke prvine, ki jih je avtorica preselila v območje likovnega. Vsak kovček ima svoj značaj in svojo zgodbo, tako postane prenesena podoba za človeka. Potovanje je prispodoba življenja in kovček je simbol za potovanje. Vsebina kovčka pogosto izdaja identiteto njegovega lastnika – njegove osebne lastnosti, navade, način življenja, razmišljanja, čutenja. Stvari v kovčku govorijo o lastniku. A le domnevno. Tako tudi fotografija le delno razkrije resnico.

Potovanje na obeh skrajnih koncih potrebuje izhodišče in cilj. Ta točka je izpostavljena v seriji fotografij v objektih z naslovom Moj dom – moj košček paradiža – moj vrtiček. Fotografije v značilni dokumentarni maniri kažejo vsakdanji utrip ljubljanske četrti Krakovo, ki se še oklepa svoje vrtičkarske tradicije, čeprav je že davno postalo del mestnega središča. Sporočilo je zopet ujeto v likovno celoto, v kateri je fotografija le eden od elementov. Dvojni značaj upodobljenega mesta kažejo prosojni zidaki – zidaki doma pomenijo trdnost in stalnost, prosojnost pa kaže na prav nasprotno, krhkost in spremenljivost.

URŠKA NINA CIGLER – SLIKARSKO V FOTOGRAFIJI

Urška Nina Cigler je postala fotografinja za tem, ko je bila že nekaj časa slikarka, zato je tudi njen fotografski slog izrazito slikarski. V iskalo njenega fotoaparata se najraje ujamejo detajli, ki imajo slikarske značilnosti – barve in barvne harmonije, teksture, dekorativni vzorci in ritmična likovna ponavljanja.

Fotografska kamera Urški Nini Cigler pomeni pripomoček za beleženje vidnih vtisov. Z likovno občutljivostjo za detajle avtorica estetsko vrednost zazna v vsakdanjih stvareh. Ne išče dramatičnih prizorov, nenavadnih podob in izjemnih trenutkov. Gledalcem pokaže prizore, ki so vseskozi pred nami, a jih običajno spregledamo.

Avtorico navdihuje zlasti slikovito okolje primorske mestne arhitekture, kjer najde številne »ready made« umetnine. Mokri madeži na fasadah puščajo slikovite sledove; odluščena barva in razkriti ometi ustvarjajo igro raznolikih tekstur in razkrivajo barve starejših poslikav; popraskani in zarjaveli kovinski arhitekturni elementi delujejo kot grafična matrica; v lesena vrata stare hiše je čas izpraskal slikovit relief – tako nastajajo abstraktne slike. Rjasti madeži, sledovi vlage, odluščena barva, posledice vandalizma ... vse te neljube dokaze propadanja Urška Nina Cigler spreminja v slikovite detajle lepega. V preprostem, starem, zanemarjenem in propadajočem najde smisel in lepoto – v tem se zrcali romantično pojmovanje lepote in umetnosti. Oblike, barve in harmonične kompozicije na njenih fotografijah vseskozi kažejo preprosto veselje, optimizem in ljubezen do sveta.

Razstavljene fotografije so bile posebej za to razstavo posnete v Kanalu. Pred gledalca tako niso postavljeni samo estetsko preoblikovani utrinki kraja, ampak se gledalci pred fotografijami znajdejo kot pred uganko, izzivom in vzpodbudo: prepoznati, poiskati ali na novo odkriti detajle iz svojega vsakdanjega življenjskega prostora.

Obe ustvarjalni dejavnosti Urške Nine Cigler, slikarstvo in fotografija, kažeta močan medsebojni vpliv. Kakor slikarski pogled določa izbor fotografskega motiva, tako tudi fotografije pogosto postanejo predloge za njena slikarska dela. Del te zgodbe je tudi avtoričino igrivo, pisano in toplo oblikovanje predmetov iz filca. Urška Nina Cigler je vsestranska ustvarjalka in njeno pristno avtorsko delo je treba gledati kot celoto. Vsakdanje življenje in videnje stvari spremeni likovni užitek in to veselje zna posredovati tudi gledalcu.

VANJA BUČAN – MED INSCENIRANIM IN DOKUMENTARNIM

Fotografija Vanje Bučan je razpeta med dokumentarno in inscenirano fotografijo. Meja med obema pristopoma ni vedno dosledno in ostro začrtana. Avtorica fotografski medij namreč jemlje kot orodje, ki ji omogoča poigravanje z realnostjo. Tako se zgodi, da formo, ki je blizu dokumentarni, uporablja tam, kjer bi pričakovali večjo umetniško svobodo, in obratno – naloge, ki je v osnovi reportažnega značaja, se loti popolnoma avtorsko. Serija del z naslovom Placebo nastaja v okviru aktivistične znanstvenoraziskovalne skupine, ki deluje pod okriljem projekta Maribor, mesto kulture 2012. Fotografijo avtorica uporablja kot orodje za dokumentiranje in delovanje, pri čemer svobodno prepleta objektivno z osebnim.

Vanja Bučan na portretnih upodobitvah (ne)navadnih posameznikov združuje naturalizem in nadrealizem. Bizarne fotografije sprva dojamemo kot humorne, celo satirične. Vendar bolj, kot jih motrimo, več človečnosti in empatije vzbujajo v nas. Portretiranci so postavljeni v nenavadne situacije in neobičajne poze, opremljeni so z nenavadnimi atributi: plastična vrana na glavi preprostega bradatega moškega pred dragocenim tekstilnim ozadjem; nevsakdanji naglavni okras na glavi gole tetovirane ženske; cenen plastičen nakit na portretu ženske, ki ji ne vidimo obraza; »portret« žene, ki ima namesto trupa in glave buče.

Portreti imajo močan čustveni naboj. Vsebinska večplastnost razkriva ideje o večplastnosti človeškega značaja in kompleksnosti človeških življenj in usod. Poraja pa tudi vprašanja, kaj je lepo, kaj je naravno in kdo določa te norme.

Podobno Vanja Bučan v samosvoje kompozicije postavlja tudi pokrajino in rastline. Tako so njene fotografije svojevrstne genske mešanice ljudi, rastlin in pokrajin. Vzporedno z avtoričinim aktivističnim delovanjem lahko v njenem fotografskem delu nevsiljivo zaslutimo nagovor k razmisleku o odnosu med človekom in njegovim življenjskim habitatom.

Poleg del iz serije Placebo se avtorica predstavlja še s serijo Tulipani in trnje. Te fotografije so nekakšen družinski album, zato je vzdušje drugačno. Prizori kažejo naključne utrinke iz vsakdanjega, poudarjeno preprostega življenja. To vsakdanje življenje pa je skozi estetiko fotografske interpretacije povzdignjeno na višjo pomensko raven. Žanrski in pokrajinski motivi pa tudi tihožitja in portreti imajo svoje starejše umetnostnozgodovinske vzornike. Način gledanja in beleženja prizorov je, čeprav morda nehote, blizu slikarstvu, kar se kaže v kompozicijah, odnosih med barvami in modeliranju s svetlobo in senco.

 

Monika Ivančič Fajfar
Photography as a Record of an Idea

For the fourth year in a row, the »It's a Woman's World of Art« exhibition cycle has seen presentations of authoresses that express themselves in the so-called traditional visual art genres. The »It's a Woman's World of Painting« (2008), »It's a Woman's World of Sculpture« (2009) and »It's a Woman's World of Graphics« (2010) exhibitions exhibited the work of thirteen current Slovenian female artists - painters, sculptors and graphic artists. It's now photography's turn. The »It's a Woman's World of Photography« exhibition introduces the work of Ana Sluga, Špela Volčič, Tanja Verlak, Urška Boljkovac, Urška Nina Cigler and Vanja Bučan. These women are creators, active photographers or the photographic medium is used in the field of visual arts in other ways. 

Photography is the youngest of all hitherto presented media. Its long-standing attempt to win recognition in the world of art has not yet been completed with renewed topical debates  on the artistic value of photography with new digital technologies. When it was born, photography strongly relied on painting – both media are like a brother and sister in terms of visual art means of expression. It did not take long until the younger sister's traits and abilities of character began impacting painting and reshaping, changing it and stimulating it for new development.

The close relationship between painting and photography is also demonstrated at the »It's a Woman's World of Photography« exhibition that is not strictly dedicated to photography, but also partly to painting. The purpose of the exhibition namely does not lie in a lesson on photographic techniques and technologies, even though photography as a creative medium is highlighted. The aim of this exhibition is to demonstrate the broadness of the medium in the artistic and substantial sense and to show its potential for expressing authorial ideas through authorial presentations of chosen creators.

The selected authoresses are extremely diverse: in certain cases, photography is approached in a more traditional, in others, in a more experimental way; some authoresses highlight the artistic ideas, which are merely provided with a photographic physical »body«; others see it as an aid for their work as painters or for a documentary recording of the aestethics of  everyday life. It has been a while since we stopped believing in the myth that photography more authentically depicts reality in the ranks of visual arts. The relationship between the real and depicted, between fiction and truth, between life and art, is also in the balance at this exhibition.

ANA SLUGA - PAST AND IDENTITY

The invention of photography proved fatal for the painted portrait, which, up to that point, had been an extremely popular and common painting genre. Photography was able to recreate the human form in a cheaper and more convincing manner, which is why portrait painters quickly replaced their brushes with cameras. Of course photography could never ultimately supersede paintings. But it often serves as a template for painted portraits. Ana Sluga relates to the tradition of painted and photographic portraits and merges both media in a special way. Her photographs act as paintings, but are extremely graphical at the same time. Her series has a conceptual basis, in relation to which the authoress opens several questions – on the technological, substantial, visual and philosophical nature of the chosen media.

Ana Sluga depicts childhood portraits of her parents, relatives and friends. She portraits people that she is close to but in a time, when she hadn't met them yet. That requires photographs found in old family albums. These are then digitalised and by means of a computer programme transformed into a modulated raster – the dot patterns imitate screen printing. That way the authoress obtains a painting template. 

Photography is thus an indirect medium, interpreted by Ana Sluga as a medium of memory and document of time. The photographic image is a document of the past and the connection to that same past at the same time. In its physical form, the same photography is a material to be used for creation. It is a »ready-made« object, reshaped and recycled into a new work of art. By a few intermediate creative steps she is assisted by the computer, but her authorial notion, a process controlled by the human mind and, ultimately, a manually painted canvas, remain in the forefront. 

The series of portraits acts as one unity, since the author uses the same format. But the patterns and colours only seemingly repeat themselves. By every single portrait, the authoress is looking for a personal touch, a different pattern, special colours or different treatment of the backgrounds and the canvas, thus emphasising her idea of identity that is already included in the portrait genre. Portraits are always accompanied by other personal marks as well - in this case, the names of those portrayed. They have not been selected randomly - their identity establishes the authoress' personal history and thus co-creates her own identity.

The trip to the past is also emphasised by the painting style with a »retro« effect. Ana Sluga has found inspiration in the optical art of the 1960s. The so-called Op Art namely wants to leave a powerful visual impression on the viewer. The faces in front of the viewers only show themselves fully from a greater distance and from the vicinity pull him into a twinning whirl. That whirlwind movement is time, expressed in an artistic way - the substantial design of the portraits is thus realised at the point as a painting.

ŠPELA VOLČIČ - A VIEW OF THE HISTORY OF ART

The still life series entitled Fuscum subnigrum does not hide its starting points in Flemish Baroque painting. In her ideal design, Špela Volčič has also reached for The Fold by the philosopher and essayist Gilles Deleuze and has relied on the thought of the philosopher G. W. Liebniz. Through the allegory of folding she highlights motion as one of the essential characteristics of Baroque. The fold was developed during that time to infinity and together with that everything that folds, rolls and develops, moves, changes, is subject to eternal birth and recreation. From that perspective man is also in constant movement and creation.  

One of the most important functions of a Baroque still life was to exhibit the wealth of the client - both material and intellectual. The painted flowers would rise exuberantly in the valuable vases, that also included exotic flowers that cost a fortune. The luxury of flowers emphasised the financial abilities of the clients, as well as their aesthetic awareness. Art is a luxury, something superior. 

At first glance, anachronistic Špela Volčič's still lives under the surface of a traditional genre from a modern perspective intertwine questions on aesthetics (art) and the economy. The exuberant flowers on her photographs are namely fake, artificial, made of plastic. Plastic flowers are deemed cheap, daub, as something on the opposite pole of aesthetics and art. Contrary to the tulips, that the wealthy during Baroque imported from Persia for large sums, a flower made in China can nowadays be bought by anyone. But art has been left to the elite. 

Because of the short-term freshness of the flowers in the vase, Baroque flower bouquets are often interpreted as a reminder of human fleetingness. In that regard, artificial flowers seem permanent, indestructible, immortal. But they have never been alive in the first place. Artificial flowers are most frequently seen in the absence of human beings. On tombs and in places without proper living conditions for living flowers and where nobody has the time to care for them. 

The visual art, that emphasises the substantial, is also consistently borrowed from Baroque. Špela Volčič uses the Baroque »chiaroscuro«, the contrast between light and dark. Flowers  are squirming free from the almost black background (fuscum subnigrum). Artistic seething, multiplication of elements, repetitions, motion, folding and arrangements, are in contrast to the still life's motif. Still life (natura morta) already carries death in its name. Exuberant, rich and colourful bouquets repeat that contrast and, according to the authoress, belong to the spirit of current times - time of external beauty which is only a guise for internal shallowness and emptiness. Špela Volčič's still lives are likeable and at the same time provocative images. The viewer is offered to consider the conflict between appearances and reality, between the original and fake and between art and daub, but he is not provided with a comfortable answer to his questions.

TANJA VERLAK – MOMENTS OF SILENCE

The title of the exhibited cycle – Be Thoughtful of Others – suggests an examination of oneself in relation to the other person. Tanja Verlak as an individual and photographer places herself into a position from which she seems to have only little impact on the world outside herself. Her task is to accept this world as it is. But the authoress is not completely passive – she actively records what she sees, but renounces reshaping what she has seen in the aesthethic and substantial sense. She reacts to the outside world with her internal perceptions. Her photographs are extremely subjective and separate from technique, genres or aesthetic clichés.  

The series of photographs, shot in the analogue black-and-white technique, has a traditional effect. But chosen scenes, unidentifiable in space and time, contribute to that kind of perception of her work. The series that she is presenting and which has been shot in New Delhi and New York, are the same, but finding geographic origins of respective photographs proves challenging. Because the evidence of space and time on her photographs is blurred, they have a universal and even to some extent anarchic effect. 

The absence of space and time provides Tanja Verlak's photographs with a somehow melancholic, lyrical tone. The authoress has left a great deal of room to the viewer for his interpretation regarding contents and mood. Her photographs are quiet, calm, motionless. Therein we strongly experience that moment, characteristic of documentary or report photography, the moment when the camera freezes time. The motionless nature of the frozen moment wonderfully depicts the passing of time.

Tanja Verlak's photography is not a monument, but a record of the moment. We comprehend it as a moment of silence in the current of thoughts. Her photographs do not suggest what has happened one moment before and do not tell us the story what will be happening one moment after. Thus stopped time is equated to death. Perhaps such an interpretation is also suggested by the way the authoress includes people and animals into her photographs. Living beings introduce only a tiny bit of life into the photographs, as they are portrayed in passive, static poses and are often removed of their other attributes of being alive by the authoress - their eyes are closed, their faces are blurred or lost in a shadowy dusk. Even though the absence of storytelling nature and dynamics can be perceived as death (of time), such an interpretation seems rather cliché and non-felicitous for Tanja Verlak's opus.

Tanja Verlak is well familiar with theory and history of photography and is aware of the burden of aesthetic and functional requirements that have been placed on the medium. Perhaps for that reason she is trying to free her photography from storytelling, from imitating reality and from aestheticising what is real. Perhaps this is why her photographies are cleared of the colourful, dramatic, exotic and even aesthetic.

URŠKA BOLJKOVAC – PHOTO IN THE OBJECT

In her work, Urška Boljkovac combines many different photographic genres and artistic approaches that are connected to autobiographical contents. Two cycles, that are highlighted at the exhibition, play with the idea of placing photographs into three-dimensional objects. Her bachelor thesis entitled The Image Inside of Me recapitulates her nine-year journey through the spaces of this genre. At the same time, her bachelor thesis also constitutes a station at the end of one and at the beginning of another path: her professional training is ending, her professional career is starting. Often, that dividing line is of course not sudden and the order of precedence may also be reversed. Urška Boljkovac, who already worked as a professional photographer during her college years that documented theatre and dance performances, has thus merged her professional creativity with her own authorial works.

Theatre photography is a special branch of photography. Its circumstances make it technically challenging and pose extreme limitations on the photographer in terms of freedom of movement, looking for the proper shot, using the flash, directing the scene, etc. It also seems that photography is not really the ideal medium for documenting a moving show. A theatre performance has its content, text, performance and interpretation, visual and audio effects and, most of all, motion. The separation between photography and reality is clearly shown here. A photography is not a shot of what is (has been), but an independent creation. Urška Boljkovac has gone one step further with creative design and use of photographs. In objects – suitcases – she has placed on textile printed photographs instead of clothes. That way the suitcases have been filled with content directed by the photographed performances. The costumes, atmosphere and body language are elements of the theatre that have been moved by the authoress to the field of visual arts. Every suitcase has its character and story and thus turns into a metaphorical image of a human being. Travelling is an allegory for life and a suitcase is a symbol for travelling. The contents of a suitcase often give away the identity of its owner – his personal characteristics, habits, the way of life, thoughts, feelings. Things in a suitcase speak of its owner. Thus also a photograph only partly discloses the truth.

A journey on both extremes needs a starting point and a destination. That point is highlighted in the series of photographs in objects entitled My Home – My Piece of Paradise – My Little Garden. Photographs in their distinct documentary way show the everyday beat of the Krakovo quarter in Ljubljana that still holds onto its gardening tradition even though it has long become part of the city centre. The message is again caught into an artistic whole, in which photograph is only one of the elements. The double character of the depicted city is shown in the transparent bricks – bricks of a home mean firmness and steadiness, transparency the exact opposite, fragility and changeability.

URŠKA NINA CIGLER – PAINTING IN PHOTOGRAPHY

Urška Nina Cigler became a photographer after working as a painter for a while, which is why her photographic style is markedly of a painter. The viewfinder of her camera most likely catches details with characteristics of a painting – colours and colour harmonies, textures, decorative patterns and rhythmic artistic repetitions.  

Urška Nina Cigler sees the camera as an aid for recording visual impressions. With an artistic sensitivity for details, the authoress senses aesthetic value in everyday things. She does not look for dramatic scenes, extraordinary images and exceptional moments. Viewers are shown scenes that are constantly in front of us, but often overlooked.

The authoress is mainly inspired by the variegated environment of the urban architecture in the Slovenian littoral area, where she finds many »ready-made« works of art. Wet stains on façades leave colourful traces; peeled-off colour and exposed plasters create a game of diverse textures and disclose the colours of older paint; scratched and rusty metal architectural elements remind us of a graphic matrix; a colourful relief has scratched itself into the wooden door of an old house – this is how abstract paintings are created. Rusty stains, peeled - off colour, signs of vandalism ... all these unpleasant evidence of decay are transformed by Urška Nina Cigler into colourful details of beauty. Meaning and beauty are found in the simple, old, neglected and decaying things – which reflect a romantic perception of beauty and art. Shapes, colours and harmonic compositions on her photographs constantly show simple joy, optimism and a love for the world. 

The exhibited photographs have been shot in Kanal specifically for this exhibition. Aesthetically reshaped glimpses of the place are not the only thing placed in front of the viewer, but when in front of a photograph, he finds himself as if facing a riddle, challenge and stimulus: to recognise, find or to rediscover details from his own everyday life space.

Both creative activities, painting and photographs, exhibit a strong mutual impact. Just like the view of a painter defines the selected photographic motif, photographs also turn into templates for Urška Nina Cigler's paintings. Part of the story is the playful, colourful and warm design of felt objects. Urška Nina Cigler is an all-round creator and her original authorial works must be viewed as a whole. She turns everyday life and the perception of things into an artistic enjoyment and knows how to submit that joy to the viewer as well.

VANJA BUČAN – BETWEEN STAGED AND DOCUMENTARY

Vanja Bučan's photography is torn between documentary and staged photography. The boundary between the two approaches is not always consistently and sharply set. The photographic medium is namely seen by the authoress as a tool that allows for playing with reality. It thus happens that a form close to documentary is used when we would expect greater artistic freedom and vice versa - a basically report task is approached in a complete authorial way. The series of works entitled Placebo is being created as part of a scientific and research group of activists that works under the auspices of the Maribor – European City of Culture 2012 project. Photography is used by the authoress as a tool for documenting and action, whereby the objective and personal are freely intertwined.

On her portrait depictions of (un)usual individuals, naturalism and surrealism are joined together. Bizarre photographs are at first perceived as witty, perhaps even satirical. But the more we observe them, the more humanity and empathy they arouse in us. The portrayed persons are placed into peculiar situations and unusual poses, they are equipped with strange attributes: a plastic crow on the head of a simple bearded man in front of a precious textile background; an unusual head ornament on the head of a naked woman with tattoos; cheap plastic jewellery on a portrayed woman whose face cannot be seen; the »portrait« of a woman with pumpkins instead of a body and head. The portraits have a strong emotional charge. The substantial multi-layered nature reveals ideas on the multi-layered nature of human character and the complexity of human lives and destinies. It also raises questions what is beautiful, what is natural and who determines such norms.

Vanja Bučan similarly places the landscape and plants into her original compositions. That way her photographs are unique genetic mixtures of people, plants and landscapes. In parallel with her activist activities, her photographic work can unobtrusively provide us with a slight hunch to consider the relationship between man and his life habitat.

The authoress is not merely presenting herself with works from the Placebo, but also the Tulips and Thorns series. These photographs resemble a family album, which is why the atmosphere is different. The scenes show random glimpses of an everyday, markedly simple life. That very everyday life is elevated to a higher level of meaning through the aesthetics of photographic interpretation. The genre and landscape motifs as well as the still lives and portraits have their older role models in the history of art. The way of watching and recording the scenes is, perhaps even unintentionally, close to painting, which is indicated by the compositions, the relationships between colours and modelling with light and shadow.

Translated by SiLink

 

 

 





Ana Sluga



Špela Volčič


Tanja Verlak


Urška Boljkovac


Urška Nina Cigler


Vanja Bučan


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