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Barbara Jurkovšek: “Plastic is Forever”

02 February 2023 > 28 February 2023 Kindly invited to the opening of the exhibition "Plastic is forever" by Barbara Jurkovšek on Thursday, 2 February at 6 pm, at Alkatraz Gallery, ACC Metelkova mesto

Barbara Jurkovšek's work stems from classical easel painting, but this does not define her creativity as traditional, since it only represents the starting point of her work. Her art is thus not characterized by a nostalgic return to the past. The artist deals with current topics by bringing contemporary art in an understandable way closer to a wider audience that is not familiar with contemporary artistic content and practices. Moreover, with an artistic interpretation of science and in collaboration with researchers, the artist wants to bring the world of art closer to the scientific sphere. Her work contains the intention of starting from a reflection on modernity, thus remaining current and inspiring.

The ideological starting points, which she sees as crucial for herself as an artist and human, are protection of nature, respectful attitude towards all living beings without prejudice towards other biological species, and opposition to all forms of violence. Since the content of her work has distinct starting points, the artist frequently employs recycling technique in her artistic expression, which she sees not only as a source of aesthetic inspiration that enriches her artistic expression but also as a necessity that contributes to a more balanced presence of humans on earth and does not harm other living beings. For her, recycling is a tool that can at least moderate the pollution of the material (and, due to opposition to consumer practices, also the spiritual) world.

Using recycled (plastic) materials, the author affirms art as a democratic practice that can be accessible to everyone. With the choice of materials, motifs, and vibrant colours, which flirt with the concept of kitsch, she blurs the boundaries and opposes the distinction between the so-called low and high art, which are synonymous with social status. Such artistic practice is a way to build a more equal space both in the context of thinking about art and, more broadly, in connection with fundamental values that call for sustainable development, in which all living beings are being taken into consideration.

The artist's inclusive and egalitarian view of life becomes prominent in the context of her view of nature. In her work, she rejects dominant, hegemonic position of human within the global ecosystem and emphasizes its destructive role. The visitor of the exhibition notices visually strong images of colourful trophy antlered heads of deer, which are also carriers of photos or photo frames. The animals’ made-up eyes appear grotesque and parodic, like some kind of cartoon images that live in another dimension and are no longer a metaphor of triumph and domination over nature, symbolized by stuffed animals. This revolutionary or, as the artist calls it, vegan taxidermy, is an example of her subversive treatment of centuries old practice synonymous with macho violence and speciesism. The creative deconstruction of its symbols reveals a playful image of that other world that mocks inflated ideas about human dominance over the rest of the world and fellow humans. This is further enhanced by photographs of an older date, which speak of beauty, joy and, above all, love. The author adds that with them she intervenes in the field of gender, sexual orientation, and the right to love in all forms.

The installation, which, in addition to deer heads includes painted chairs and the inscription 'No being has been hurt in making this artwork', shows how message is more important than the choice of medium for the author. This is also evident in her paintings of animal embryos, which intentionally work like X-ray images and add the impression of scientific exploration to the works of art, which is otherwise the essential foundation of the artist's creative process. The depicted embryos, located somewhere between animate and inanimate nature, reside in the intermediate space, and transcend compulsory binaries that society imposes on us as the only normality and based on which it determines generalized and exclusionary rules.

The painting-sculpture project of Barbara Jurkovšek Plastic Is Forever defines the recognizable authorial expression of the artist, who, with the help of art, explores the meaning of socially dominant explanations and solutions in a phenomenological way. The critical charge of the author's exhibition project is harmoniously consistent with the desire that her art co-creates a message that supports movements towards an equal world, where every being lives in accordance with their wishes and needs.

Sebastian Krawczyk, Ana Grobler

Barbara Jurkovšek (Ljubljana, 1981) graduated in 2006 and in 2009 received her master's degree in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Ljubljana, in the class of Prof. Metka Krašovec. She later studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Lecce in Italy. She has had numerous solo and group exhibitions and projects in Slovenia and abroad (USA, UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy). Since 2009, she has been self-employed in culture. She works in the fields of painting, sculpture, graphic art, calligraphy, and scientific illustration.

Proof-reading in Slovene language: Neja Berlič
Translation to English language: Ana Makuc
Project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and City Council Ljubljana.

Photographies of the exhibition by: Nada Žgank.