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Gala Alica Ostan Ožbolt: Someone’s Land

03 June 2022 > 24 June 2022 Kindly invited to the opening of the "Someone's Land" exhibition by Gala Alica Ostan Ožbolt, on Friday, 3 June at 7 pm, at Alkatraz Gallery, ACC Metelkova. On Friday, 24 June the exhibition will be on display between 11 am and 1 pm.

In 2021, a young artist Gala Alica Ostan Ožbolt exhibited at the group exhibition of students of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana, which takes place biennially at the Alkatraz Gallery. As part of the cycle Empowerment of Young Artists, which alternately presents students every two years and a solo exhibition of one of them the following year, Gala Alica Ostan Ožbolt was the third, along with Doroteja Erhatič and Maja Bojanić, to be selected by the curatorial team for further cooperation. The artist was chosen by the curatorial team because she, in an original way, problematizes the issue of accessibility of public space and seeks alternative perspectives for the development of a common environment, which plays a key role in creating society and, consequently, collectivity. Her artistic proposals oppose gentrification with the desire to include underprivileged inhabitants of the city and strive to establish the heterogeneity of urban space, emphasizing the need for a broader view in society.

In the title of the then group exhibition No Loitering Today, the Cataclysm Is Nearby, which summarized the collective experience of our (new) reality marked by the covid times, was the inclusion of the title of her artwork No Loitering. As she was then interested in the unfriendliness and inaccessibility of cities combined with a so-called hostile architecture, designed to deter lingering, her focus still remains within the urban.

In the urban landscape, she is interested in the relationship between public and private, the systems established in it, relations of power and control, and human position in public space, as well as the (un)desirability, (in)visibility of inhabitants in it and invisible systems and structures, which command ways of using public space. In the work Viennese Natural Reserves, she is interested in the position of nature. On the streets of Vienna, where she currently lives and studies, she noticed that there is practically no space that does not have a strictly defined purpose. After asphaltingroads, cycling paths, next to established parking lots and side walks, only small spaces of uneven shapes remain on the streets without 'practical' usability. For aesthetic reasons, these become patches of grass planted with shrubs or physically restricted trees, usually bounded by fences that restrict entry. As a humorous intervention in the public space, she designed a warning board, modelled by Austrian nature reserve boards, which warns the inhabitants of the city about the part of nature that is located right next to them. She has documented quite a few of these spaces in the postcard series Little Viennese Gardens (Greetings from Vienna), and alongside her works of art she wonders whether the role of the natural in the city can only be occasionally aesthetic as a filler for dead ends of streets too small to be used for other, more 'important' purposes.

In contrast to the densely populated, concrete and paved centre of Vienna, the Georg-Coch-Platz district is one of Vienna's rare green and undeveloped areas. Despite the fact that the green part appears as a natural filler, the (in)ability of playing (tennis) is determined by the surrounding buildings of historical and architectural significance. On one side, the park borders the Österreichische Postsparkasse (Austrian Post Savings Bank), designed by the architect Otto Wagner from the Viennese Art Nouveau, and, on the other, the Regierungsgebäude, a complex of government buildings, inhabited by various ministries. The model of the park with drawn lines of the tennis court Playground (work in progress), questions to what extent the green areas in Vienna are attractive to be used and who (in general) is welcome there.

All the works in the exhibition explore the boundaries between public and private and reveal the interest in the institutionalization of control through the constant shrinking of public space by the holders of power. Thus, in the gallery there is also a balcony made of iron and concrete From Me to Them and from Them to You. The project, which the artist began to develop during the full swing of measures against the new coronavirus epidemic, considers the establishment of occasional public spaces, hybrids between private and public, as a means of resistance. The balcony, as a symbol of the cut into patriarchal domination over women, has become, in recent times, the only physically tangible means of expression for EVERYONE who has been prohibited to leave their homes and has been forced to remain in the domestic, private sphere. The balcony, which separates people trapped behind bars and people who are at least seemingly free, and at the same time stratifies those in higher and lower (social) positions, illustrates the complexity of social relations. Its importance in history as well as today has been captured by Gala Alica Ostan Ožbolt in her work of art, emphasizing that, after all, no one, regardless of gender or any other personal circumstance, is immune to the interventions of the authorities, whose main goal is to expand and strengthen their powers over others.

Ana Grobler

In her artistic practice, Gala Alica Ostan Ožbolt deals with public space and current socio-political issues. She is currently studying visual arts at die Angewandte, the University of Applied Arts, and is concurrently completing her undergraduate studies in sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. She also studied at the University of Art and Design in Linz. She has participated in many group exhibitions, including: The Maybe Date at the Graz Skulpturpark (Graz, 2020), No Loitering Today, Cataclysm Is Nearby at the Alkatraz Gallery (2021), The Junction at the City Hall (Ljubljana, 2019) and Brstišče, which was part of the project Swisshouse: Community, Art and Nature at the Swisshouse Creative Centre, MGLC (Ljubljana, 2018).

 Co-production: Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana.

The works were produced within the study program of visual arts at die Angewandte, University of Applied Arts in Vienna.
Thanks to Luka Savić for all the help and support.

Photographies by: Nada Žgank.

Alkatraz Gallery program is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the City of Ljubljana.