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Žan Gašperič: Alone, But Not Really

13 February 2024 > 01 March 2024 Kindly invited to the opening of the exhibition "Alone, But Not Really" by Žan Gašperič on Tuesday, 13th February 𝖺𝗍 6 𝗉𝗆, at the Alkatraz Gallery.

Žan Gašperič is a student of photography at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. He is active at the intersection of photography, video, sound and performative art. He is also the recipient of the first prize in the visual competition Tresk #14 (September 2023) in the category of documentation of a musical event, which is announced annually by Radio Student as part of the Tresk Festival. About his work, the jury wrote: 'The winning photograph is not just a conventional documentation of a music event. Instead of the classic documentary-realistic descriptive approach, the author dared to employ an experimental phototechnical and analogical approach. Using innovative DIY techniques, the author manipulates the medium of recording reality into a tool that visually recreates the spectrum of his emotional introspection while listening to music.'

Žan Gašperič's solo exhibition entitled Alone, But Not Really at the Alkatraz Gallery, co-produced by Radio Student, presents the artist's newly created works, which skilfully combine the author's love for photography and musical art. At the exhibition, we encounter three hanging textile objects, which are marked by a neutral light colour from the outside. At first glance, the exhibition appears minimalistic, but each of the works contains a visually rich interior made with the help of AI generator, wherein the artist's own photographs served as a starting point for manipulation. In creating the final image that is printed on the canvases, the effect that the artist wants to achieve is essential – a distorted image of the world that moves in the space between the digital and the physical and opens up metaphysical dimensions.

The title Alone, But Not Really touches upon the issue of authorship. Although Gašperič's work, which frequently places the artist himself in the centre, is characterised by the manipulation of various (photographic) artistic techniques and materials and follows the DIY principle, the author is also aware of the fact that he is not an isolated island. Each creative individual is subjected to external influences, either from other artists both in the field of music and visual art, or from a wider environment or frameworks in which they operate. The title also alludes to the use of artificial intelligence, which for the author is only one of the tools by means of which he can operate in modern times and which, in line with programmed rules, draws from the vast pool of past human creativity. In addition, the title reveals the viewer's direct contact with the work of art. The individual finds themselves alone in front of the artwork; however, what surrounds them is the artist's imaginary universe and vice versa: the artist and his works of art are never completely separated from the audience.

With the layout, the author creates fenced spaces that provide a sense of security. In other words, when the viewer dares to enter them, they are faced with an image that completely surrounds or encapsulates them at eye level. Inside, separated from the rest of the world, we can truly stop and connect with our experience: we breathe, observe and indulge in visual-audio stimuli that eventually trigger more and more (individualised) associations, feelings and memories. The artist encourages a longer interaction with the work, which strengthens the individual experience and brings about an enhanced contact with oneself.

As a member of the younger generation of artists, Gašperič organically navigates within the virtual worlds and tools enabled by new technology, which he skilfully complements with his inner need to create in physical form, also by resorting to non-classical approaches within modern photography, such as, for instance, developing sewing skills. With his work, the author strives to express beauty and an affirmative view of life, which, given the prevailing tendencies in contemporary art, is frequently pushed aside, since it often critically exposes the darker sides of humanity. The artist seeks to encourage visitors to stop for a moment in the hectic daily life and surrender to the dream worlds that he creates with the help of visual and sound language in three isolated spaces. His installations thus deliberately offer immersion in a holistic experience. These are stitched analogue works that simulate the feeling of virtuality through visual-auditory stimulation of the senses – we could as well imagine that we are standing in front of a video work frozen in time, where we can still sense the movement of frames and protagonists.

A self-portrait allows the artist to explore identity in the age of modern technologies, when the perception of reality is called into question. On the one hand, with the introduction of artificial intelligence, our instinctive desire to believe that the visual images before our eyes are part of the material world has been called into question. On the other hand, the world of experience of the individual has been given expanded opportunities for visual expression, as everyone can easily create images with the help of new tools (only with a few verbal commands), adapted, for instance, for expressing identity or portraying emotions. Regardless of the new opportunities that technological development opens up in art, an ontological doubt creeps into the viewer: what is true? Where can they find security if what they see before their eyes does not really exist, but is rather solely a representation of an algorithm?

Even though, in his work, Žan Gašperič explores the limits and meanings of self-portraiture, the purpose of his creative work reaches further, as he wants to offer the viewer a temporary emotionally safe space and a sense of connection with his images. The format of the photographs with which the artist experiments literally embraces the person attending the exhibition and appeals to their emotions. And this is perhaps another message that Gašperič conveys with his work: authentic contact and connection can be the beginning of the emergence of psychological security, which is the starting point for research.

Anabel Černohorski, Sebastian Krawczyk

Žan Gašperič (2001) is completing his undergraduate studies of photography at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. In his artistic practice, he explores and combines sound, movement and visuals. In 2022, he attended dance workshops in Poland and Greece, where he also conducted groups of children with special needs as a mentor. During his studies, he exhibited at several group exhibitions, among others at Photography Gallery, DobraVaga Gallery, as part of the Belgian art academy ESA St-Luc in Brussels and at the group student exhibition Tarpaulin 3 (Tobačna/Building 2, Ljubljana, 2023), where participated in a performance (in a special outfit created from his own works). In 2023, he won the Tresk competition in the category for the best documentation of a musical event. The exhibition at the Alkatraz Gallery is the artist's first major solo presentation.


Curated by Anabel Černohorski, Sebastian Krawczyk
Production: KUD Mreža/Galerija Alkatraz
Co-production: Radio Študent
Slovenian proofreading: Sonja Benčina
English translation: Ana Makuc
The Alkatraz Gallery programme is supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Ljubljana

Photos of the exhibition by: Nada Žgank.