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Brina Ivanetič: Breath-In / Breath-Out

07 June 2017 > 30 June 2017 You are kindly invited to the opening of the exhibition "Breath-In/ Breath-Out" by Brina Ivanetič. The opening will take place at the Alkatraz Gallery, ACC Metelkova mesto on Wednesday 7th June 2017 at 8pm. The exhibition is curated by Iza Pevec.
Kindly invited also to the guided tour of the exhibition on Wednesday 21st June 2017 at 7pm.

With her installation Brina Ivanetič continues her sculptural research into the issue of absence and what is that visualizes the absence.  Embodying this particular absence, her works are caught in an ambivalent and inherently sculptural interplay of the material and immaterial, where the sculptural object is shaped by a trail and an impression of some presence. In the centre of consideration there is often a human body, evading a classical comprehension of figural depiction. A somewhat peculiar trail of a human body is also established in the Breath-In / Breath-Out exhibition. When we enter the dimmed cube of the spatial installation, we gaze at the alternatingly illuminated bust masks having been used in cancer-patient therapies at the oncological department. Hence, into the artwork, a hunch of death creeps, additionally thematised by the sound of several different breathings. The snippets and trails evoke the absence of human presence – the presence of the people to whom these traces belong.

When in photography the term of indexicallity points to its physical link with the photographed object [1], then the masks as well as the recordings of breathing may near indexicallity to some extent. The exhibited masks were, during the radiation, physically connected with the subject that they are replacing in the gallery installation. Given that the sound recording – similarly to a photographic capture – is in an indexical relation to the recorded sound, then we may perhaps perceive and understand the breathing – a trace of a body – in a similar manner. In the Breath-In / Breath-Out project, the link with the absent is created with the association to the bodily – to something that we find familiar; our trails and impressions. Precisely this familiarity, paradoxically, yet congruently with the nature of the topic, establishes an even greater distance, an absence. The absence of subjects, indicated by the masks, is »filled« with the presence of the breathings of some other, equally absent subjects. Masks as an impression, a shell of some patient as well as the recording of the breathing of random persons as their trail in some random moment – caught within a common frame – find themselves in a tense relation. We may understand the collision of their incompatible match in the interchangeability of the subjects – the impressions of individuals become the impressions of us all.

Absence is one of the focal themes of the Breath-In / Breath-Out installation that the author reflects upon from an artistic, sculptural as well as an existential aspect of a human life. The hint to the unavoidability of death is manifested in the tension between the sculptural materiality of the masks and the ephemeralness the sounds of breathing associate. They also intensify the uneasy feeling of in the dark space of the cube that confronts us with our own anxiety at the thought of death; the thought supressed in the contemporary society. A placid, peaceful death is no longer an ideal; prevailing is the idea of non-death supposedly enabled by modern medical findings. Nevertheless, death remains unavoidable, and the very hunch of it creeps into the installation precisely by the language of medicine. Unintentionally realistic portraits roughly assume the patients’ features,  while their practical character leaves a hole in the place of the mouth, instantly read as a scream by the overwhelmed looks. In the long history of masks we find their equally long link to death; even in prehistoric cultures we can find masks that have been placed upon the corpses. In his book An Anthropology of Images, Hans Belting claims that in mask rituals they did not depict ancestors, but re-presented them in pictures as the deceased, when they had lost their face, depended on masks anyway. They could give the deceased back their faces solely with a mask, taking place of a living face. In the light of the contemporary relation to death it has been said that we are – instead of with a death-mask, as in the Breath-In / Breath-Out installation, confronted by a medical mask, aspiring to postpone the death.

Iza Pevec

[1] Charles Sanders Peirce designated with the term index, as one of the three phenomenological categories of representation, the way in which representation is directly linked to the represented object, but is not its part. In the theory of photography the term indexicallity denotes the relation between the photograph and the photographed. This is, namely, a somewhat direct link, as photographs taken in the pre-digital era were created with the interaction of the light with objects. In other words: indexicallity means that a photographic image is a photo-chemical product of the impression of an object in a given moment.


Brina Ivanetič (1987, Ljubljana)  who finished her four-year study of sculpture at the Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts and Design (ALUO) in 2016, under the mentorship of prof. Sergej Kapus and prof. Jože Barši, received a Scholarship for gifted students of the Municipality of Ljubljana as well as the ALUO Student Prešeren Award. In 2011 she received a prize at the The Empire of Senses (Cesarstvo čutil) exhibition. In the period between 2010 and 2014 she participated at several group exhibitions at home and abroad. In 2016 she had a solo exhibition at the Ljubljana Town Hall (Galerija Kresija).