Opening hours:
Monday - Friday:
11am - 7pm

Traces of Presence – a group exhibition of students of The Academy of Fine Arts and Design (ALOU)

06 April 2023 > 28 April 2023 Kindly invited to a guided tour and an opening of the exhibition "Traces of Presence" a group exhibition of students of The Academy of Fine Arts and Design (ALOU) on Thursday, 6 April at 6 pm, at Alkatraz Gallery, ACC Metelkova.

Artists: Renato Arnejčič, Lana Pastirk, Nika Šantej, Špela Šedivy.

For many years, the Alkatraz Gallery has been continuously collaborating with the youngest generation of artists studying at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana (ALUO). The current group exhibition brings something new to the established biennial presentation: it is focused on the production of unique design. The invited artists are distinguished by a diverse range of skills and interests, which they build on in their individual interdisciplinary creation by researching materials and experimenting with media.

Traces of presence is the result of following the exhibition and production activities of students of unique design, which have not yet been represented in the Alkatraz Gallery.  Since the space within which the Alkatraz Gallery operates is seen as marginal in the mainstream, we want to address the existence of various, non-hierarchical positions within the world of art. All with the aim of stimulating the connection and exchange of opinions of different genres of artistic activity through the exploration of creative expression. The exhibited works were created during the study process of the last two years, are made in different techniques, and content-wise they are all reflecting on contemporary society, which was also one of the guidelines for the selection. At the forefront of interest there was human, their relationship towards themselves and everything that surrounds them.

Lana Pastirk, through figurative art in various techniques, frequently explores different psychological states, interpersonal relationships, narcissism and the role of the artist. In the smallest work of art in the exhibition, Grave Goods (2021), the artist thematizes the artefacts that accompany the deceased to the afterlife: a wrapped figure of the deceased in a miniature wooden coffin is surrounded by a group of miniature porcelain objects. Considering the value orientation of modern society, the author wonders how grave accessories would look like today. She exposes completely ordinary things, from a toothbrush, personal computer, different packaging, to a pack of cigarettes and a can of drink. They speak about our (bad) habits and consumer culture.

Nike Šantej's work, Keeping Things Whole (2021/2022, 2023), is the most space-enhancing of all the works on display. The anthropomorphic glass figures were inspired by Mark Strand's poem, after which the installation is named. With it, she addresses the need for a more authentic contact, mutual connection and collective action, which an increasingly fragmented and alienated (post)pandemic society needs all the more.

A glass figure, illuminated and physically enclosed, also plays a central role in the work Family Matters (2021) by Renato Arnejčič. The work tackles the topic of violence taking place behind closed doors, removed from our direct gaze, but still in the public eye. At the same time, it critically addresses the traditional concept of family, which is a potential obstacle for the emancipation of the individual. The transition between public and private in this scenographically oriented work is not perceived as an everyday voyeurism by the observer, but rather is felt by them as a deep discomfort.

The basic idea for Špele Šedivy's work Disintegration (2022) dates back to the beginning of the pandemic, which prompted the author to question her own creativity in relation to stone as a material with which she often works. This led to a reversal in the manner of design — from creation to destruction. On a raised base for a display case, which is reminiscent of a laboratory environment, we can watch the outflow of hydrochloric acid, which, upon contact with stone, gradually erodes its surface, penetrates deeper and deeper, and actively shapes matter. Although the work is open to interpretation, it can be read either as a question of influence and effect at a distance, without direct contact, or as a melancholic contemplation on the unstoppable power of transience.

The exhibition Traces of Presence brings together different artists, active in various fields of art, who share a similar sensibility both at the level of the selected works and the messages they attempt to convey. Visually appealing artworks evoke a latent feeling of unease. The latter can be brought about by looking at the values of modern human, which reveal superficiality and narcissism; reflection on social patterns that dictate a way of life in a familial environment and their consequences; the absence of an existential category of wholeness that enables belonging; the course of a destructive process that is greater than the will and power of the individual. On a conceptual level, the works are linked to social changes in (post)pandemic times. They reveal musings on how being human has become a more difficult task in these times. As visitors, we can feel what a challenge it is to connect with others and to live according to a deeper purpose.

Anabel Černohorski, Sebastian Krawczyk.


Renato Arnječič (22 August 1991, Ptuj) has been fascinated by the art of creating and the plant world since childhood. After graduating from the Electrical Engineering and Computing in Ptuj, he enrolled into the School of Horticulture and Visual Arts Celje, where he became interested in garden art and bonsai. He began to discover the world of ceramics through bonsai pots. In 2018, he obtained the title of Horticulture engineer, and in the same year, he successfully passed the entrance exam at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana – with a major in unique design, where, among other things, he learned about glass. His works had often been selected for group exhibitions and for some of them he received awards and recognitions.

Lana Pastirk graduated from ALUO in industrial design. She is currently completing her postgraduate studies in unique design, majoring in ceramics. She has taken part in numerous group exhibitions and participated at the International Symposium of Art Ceramics (V-oglje 2021). During her study exchange at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, she was focusing primarily on life drawing. Her multimedia works are not only connected by different materials, technological and artistic approaches, but also have substantive width and breadth.

Nika Šantej (2000, Sevnica) graduated from Art High School – the Celje-Centre Grammar School – and is currently completing her undergraduate studies of unique design at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana (ALUO). Since 2022, she has been an assistant at the ALUO, at the Glass department, under the supervision of professor MA Tanja Pak. She has exhibited at several group and two solo exhibitions in Slovenia. Her primary medium in which she creates is glass, which in her works of art she connects with the fields of industrial design, photography, ceramics and sculpture. Her work is based on her essence, feelings, perception of the world and society. She explores the presence of nature in relation to other matter in time and space.

Špela Šedivy (1992) is finishing her postgraduate studies in sculpture at ALUO UL, where she already graduated in unique design, and before that she graduated from the Higher Vocational School in Sežana (majoring in stone design). She works in the field of sculpture. Her work covers such topics as fragility, transience, contradictions etc., whereas, at the same time, we can perceive also perseverance, strength and endurance. She exhibited at group exhibitions in Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. She co-created the project KipAktiviti II, which received the Prešeren Student Award in 2022.


Production: KUD Mreža/ Galerija Alkatraz and Academy for Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana.

Curated by: Anabel Černohorski, Sebastian Krawczyk, Ana Grobler.
Translation to English language: Ana Makuc.
Photographies of the exhibition by: Nada Žgank.

Project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and City Council Ljubljana.

Lana Pastirk, Grave Goods, 2021. Photo by: Luka Benedičič. Renato Arnejčič, Family Matters, 2020/21. Photo by: Maša Pirc Nika Šantej, Keeping Things Whole, 2021/22. Photo by the author Špela Šedivy, Disintegration, 2022. Photo by: Bine Šedivy.