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Doroteja Erhatič: May Your Time Be Long

15 November 2019 > 13 December 2019 Kindly invited to the opening of the exhibition "May Your Time Be Long" by Doroteja Erhatič, on Friday, 15th November, at 8pm, at the Alkatraz Gallery.

Doroteja Erhatič is a student of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana. She was invited to participate in student exhibition Collaboration (2018), with which Alkatraz Gallery began its long-term cooperation with The Academy of Fine Arts and Design. The aim of the project is to enable chosen students an easier and more successful entrance into the artistic system by means of supportive programs. At the end of the aforementioned exhibition, the gallery decided to establish intensive cooperation with the artist in question throughout the whole year 2019, and in the future. As a part of this collaboration, she was the artist-in-residence in gallery DobraVaga, Ljubljana, for two months, and exhibited at The Night Window Display Gallery Pešak, ACC Metelkova; furthermore, now Alkatraz Gallery features her solo exhibition.

In her artistic practice, the artist frequently focuses on questions of responsibility and explores the relationship between artistic work and the world she inhabits. She finds the latter oversaturated due to unstoppable production, the consequence of the dominant principle of living, based on constant consumption. Doroteja Erhatič wonders what the production of novel in the times of hyper-production means. Moreover, she also questions the meaningfulness of creating material artefacts and searches for a good reason to continue doing so.

In search of possible answers, the artist resorts to work with easily accessible, discarded or – as she calls them – 'poor' materials. What she has in mind are materials that surround us, but do not really enter our visual field, or materials that we want to get rid of as soon as possible. In her work, they symbolically represent an overlooked (but not unimportant or uninteresting) part of the space in which we function. In search of material starting point, the artist chose cardboard, which has the aforementioned characteristics. She employed the cardboard already in her artistic work entitled The Wall, exhibited as a part of the yearly (2019) student exhibition of The Academy of Fine Arts and Design. The Wall thematised obstacles. The cardboard boxes – except for the hole in the middle, which additionally supported the argument – divided students’ sculptural studio into two spaces. In her solo exhibition in Alkatraz Gallery, the artist uses the same, but transformed cardboard, as its cornerstone to convey a diametrically opposed message. This exhibition is an original story about open possibilities, which we can acknowledge by means of ‘disintegration and decomposition, grinding and shaking, in order to remove the inessential,’ in Doroteja Erhatič’ own words. The idea of recycling, which is the background of her work, materializes at two different levels, namely: both in the form of the material, being reused with a different purpose, and in the sense of the artwork, being transformed into another artwork. That said it seems understandable that the centre of the exhibition in Alkatraz Gallery is the artwork composed of paper the artist made herself. Although paper is in abundance, it remains a part of invisible background. Paper does not offer noticeable stimuli that would determine the context for the viewer, regardless of its kind– grey recycled or handmade (which the author does herself with her own technique). In fact, the opposite is true: the paper is what it is – empty pieces of paper in the gallery, aiming to emphasize their own void and to symbolise feelings of dullness and emptiness. This is a welcoming change in the world in which horror vacui rules. It is especially the case in the context of popular and advertising contents, but it is visible also in the contemporary world of art.

In her exhibition, Doroteja Erhatič sees an opportunity to enter a different environment: purposefully emptied each time for the next exhibition, the gallery is a radically different point, offering a minimal amount of external stimuli. During the exhibition opening, viewers shall be entering the gallery in small groups, to get in touch with and experience the empty space. With her mild intervention and planned arrangement of the viewers, the artist will incite their individual responses. The viewer shall be forced to face an environment they are not familiar with and stay in an awkward and unpleasant situation in which nothing happens. Consequently, viewers might develop a novel relationship to such an environment, which shall force them to leave their comfort zone due to the lack of ordinary stimuli.

Such delicately outlined interactive starting point, based on the active contact between viewer and exhibited artefacts – pieces of paper, reacting to viewers’ movements with their own movement – is an attempt to prompt internal dialogue about basic phenomena that living in an imperfect world brings, and the artist’s contribution to deliberations about environmental, ethical and existential dilemmas.

Doroteja Erhatič (1990) works in the areas of sculpture, painting and cultural heritage preservation. In 2012, she completed her studies of Restoration at TheAcademy of  Fine Arts and Design, Ljubljana. She is a final-year student of sculpture at the same university. In 2018, she participated in the student exhibition Collaboration in Alkatraz Gallery, and in the student project ŠIPK, as a part students’ forma viva in Rožna dolina, Ljubljana, where she exhibited a concrete sculpture entitled How much packaging do you need to make a sculpture? In the same year, she cooperated at Lighting Guerrilla in sculpture students’ group project entitled Absence is the (present) present. In 2019, she exhibited in Belgrade, in the gallery Kuća Legata / Heritage House, at the exhibition Art Sequences, featuring younger artists from the Balkan (born between 1985 and 1995), from Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Macedonia. Furthermore, Doroteja presented her work in the solo exhibition This and What-This-Is-Not at The Night Window Display Gallery Pešak. Currently, her artworks are displayed at TRANS-FORM: ACTION, the exhibition of art students from Zagreb, Sofia, Bucharest, Skopje, Istanbul and Ljubljana, in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, and National Museum, Slovenia, ACC Metelkova City.

Translation from Slovene: Ana Makuc.

Photos from the opening of the exhibition: Nada Žgank.