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.