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Removed Together / group exhibition between Ljubljana and Split

27 March 2012 > 11 April 2012 You are cordially invited to the opening of the first phase of exhibition Removed together by curator Miha Colner with artists: Maja Smrekar, Tomaž Furlan, Neven Korda, Peter Rauch, Robertina Šebjanič & Luka Frelih. The exhibition is a realised by Gallery Alkatraz and Multimedia cultural center and Udruga Kazimir from Split. The opening will begin on 27th March at 7 pm at MCC Split, at Kralj Tomislav street 15 in Split.

This exhibition represents a curated exchange between media artists working in Ljubljana and Split. The exchange takes place in two phases: an exhibition of ten artists from Ljubljana and Split in Multimedijalni kulturni centar Split and an exhibition of five Split based artists (Gido Bačević, Dan Oki, Toni Meštrović, Sandra Sterle, Ante Verzotti) in Alkatraz Gallery in Ljubljana curated by Brian Willems. Five artists from each city were selected by local curator and put into the specific thematic context closely related to the immediate local environment where these artists live and work.

Instead of offering a firm conceptual consistency part of the exhibition from Ljubljana, titled Tactics of Self-organisation, highlights the heterogeneous practices of included artists. Focal point of their practices is reflecting their commitment to follow specific working tactics within the production process that become a mean for constructive rebellion against fundamental principles of dominant ideological and economic discourses. Most of the art works within Ljubljana’s media art scene, including photography, video or various forms of multimedia practices, is produced under improvised and low budget conditions. That is indeed the immanent local characteristic.

The principal theme of Split part of the exhibition, titled Electrifying the Epic, follows the concept of “dialogic” and on the other hand “epic”. For Mikhail Bakhtin, the epic is concerned with an “absolute past,” meaning a time which is “walled off absolutely from all subsequent times” and is thus a part of what could be called traditional time. In contrast, the dialogic takes “contemporary reality” as its subject matter. As a result, dialogic work involves a mixture of domains, meaning that whenever contemporary language is used it will inevitably engage with traditional forms. Following this analogy, artists included in this exhibition are all engaged in developing a space for the dialogic multiplication of voices to exist within an epic cultural environment permeated by a rich and domineering heritage.



Tomaž Furlan / Neven Korda / Peter Rauch / Maja Smrekar / Robertina Šebjanič & Luka Frelih

Part of the programme, dedicated to Ljubljana, is titled 'Tactics of Self-organising' and it presents the selection of active artists working within the field of so called media art. Selection doesn’t offer any firm conceptual consistency moreover it rather highlights their heterogeneous practices. Starting points of art works have always been deriving out of different personal experiences, world views and aesthetic preferences. Focal point of these artists’ practices is mainly their commitment to follow specific tactics of self-organisation in the production process to become a mean for constructive rebellion against fundamental principles of dominant ideological and economic discourses. Self-organising and self-management were proved to be extremely important tactic within the process of production and presentation. This exhibition was developed on similar starting points. Unconventional working methods enable artists to function in the complex field of media arts but at the same time they have huge impact on artistic expression. Principles of non-institutional activities and working methods (by constructing their own formal or informal institutions) became one of basic and often only possible model of artistic work, especially in places like Slovenia – without public services and specialised institutions for such forms of art. Still today part of the protagonists from Ljubljana’s underground scene maintains the continuity of independent production and development according to their own facilities that as a consequence bring to substantial degree of improvisation and often collective creative process. For lack of adequate infrastructure and for quite modest funding tactics of self-initiative and huge personal involvement are inevitable. Most of the art works within Ljubljana’s media art scene, including photography, video or various forms of multimedia practices, is produced in very low budget circumstances. That is indeed the immanent local characteristic. Connections between selected artists are more obvious and relevant in their working methods, production and distribution of the artworks than on the level of comparative analysis of formal and conceptual approaches.

In order to understand broader concept of self-organisation it is necessary to explain various contexts of Ljubljana’s independent culture development and its constant struggle for the self-sustainability and acquisition of permanent autonomous space. Early platforms for independent and alternative production go back to the late 1970s and early 1980s. In that period experimental theatre group FV 112/15 emerged (group that quickly expanded its practice to various forms of arts), ŠKUC (Student Cultural Centre) was established and independent Radio Student was very active. During 1980s the scene saw the emergence of two clubs – KUD France Prešeren and K4. All these organisations represent the backbone of independent cultural production. Such organisations and individuals appropriated the models of entirely independent operating under specific circumstances: almost complete creative freedom but limited funding. As a consequence of political, societal, and economic changes in early 1990s the capital itself became the biggest threat to independent culture. However, in the period of transition the idea to squat a permanent space for independent scene matured and erupted with occupying of former military complex in Metelkova. Today, this alternative zone represents informal junction for independent art and culture in Ljubljana although the internal struggle for preservation of its complete integrity is still ongoing. In 2006 temporary occupation of Rog bicycle factory was carried out by artists and activists who despite very poor working conditions developed the place into the space for artistic production. Based on this general spirit and overall circumstances of Ljubljana’s scene artists have developed specific tactics of production and presentation where the process is also reflected in their valuable final results – art works.

Moreover the desire for independent operation doesn't appear only as a need but it rather reflects strong ideological statement. In their unique way selected artists reflect their relation to the environment and comment social and political reality from their own micro-perspective. As active citizens they question different generally accepted conventions of contemporary world. Therefore, in their works individual expressions and contexts of broad social, economic and political questions are intertwined. They are dealing with seemingly small and unimportant matters of everyday reality or they construct certain utopian (or dystopian) visions for the new society. Stemming from the intimate perspective they apply utterly universal questions of human existence and encourage the establishment of parallel systems; i.e. impacts of advanced technologies on the society, its possible unconventional usages, relations between individual and collective memory and alternative methods of engagement within the given circumstances. Although spotlighting certain social phenomena, which inevitably shape representation of given reality, their approaches are primarily based on the experimental practices and artistic media itself, its visual or sensual effects and formal derivation, while the content is left to the consideration and comprehension of each spectator. Thus interpretation depends on his or her individual experiences, views and visions. The message and the meaning are unlikely to be direct and obvious but rather covert within layers of visual metaphors. Therefore the spectator is very often mentally challenged by the art works since they - beside the visual sensation itself - require in-depth consideration.

Since 1983 Neven Korda (1956), one of the founding members of informal production company FV 112/15, is closely embedded in different fields of video art. His emergence on the scene is closely connected to the popularisation of technologies and their accessibility also outside of the institutions such as television. For him video is only the basic tool for construction of complex visual ambiences (video installations) and it has become certain gateway to the new media art. His visual expression is often included into various fields of artistic production such as theatre and indirectly music. Above all he deals with formal characteristics and creative possibilities of video language: manipulation of the sound and image in real time, constructing of the analogue video installation and performances. Ideologically engaged content, dedicated to the questions of individual art making by imposing direct comments or establishing parallel systems, is often hidden behind the idea of constant search of “beautiful”. With complex video installations he often explores the characteristics of very basic video language aiming to demystify advanced technologies and new media art. Although video ‘My Entire World’ and performance ‘How I Became a Video Artist’ are produced with simple resources they achieve radical results – ultimate beauty of abstract moving image.

Central interest of inter-media artist Maja Smrekar (1978) is oriented towards research and creative usage of new technologies that serve as important indicator of modern society’s state of mind, utopian visions of the future and devotion to the personal histories. By combining various artistic means she achieves visually luxurious results, combining different media such as video, interactive installations, performance or artistic research, to react on the status and role of mass media (television or internet) within the society. In videos such as ‘The Machinism’ she combines different forms of low-resolution online found footages and subsequently, with the assembling of fragments, she creates monumental and repetitive routine that brings out completely new contexts. Other section of her presentation is represented by the excerpt from last year’s solo show ‘Hypnagogia 00’ that was combining media of photography, video, space ambience and living rabbits. Artist visited the places of her childhood and youth where - although emotionally still attached to them - she doesn’t belong any more. Idealised world of naïve childhood, marked by alienation and uneasiness, is merging with the iconography of mass media influencing and shaping growing up individual.

Although conceptually influenced by various forms of cultural production, film, music, visual arts and real life, artistic practice of Peter Rauch (1978) is above all related to photography. Primarily educated as an architect he is engaged with visual investigations of space, relations of artificially produced environments and placement of humankind in its own world. Furthermore by questioning the self-evidence of certain relations and structures within everyday - life as they are becoming integral part of one’s consciousness - he generates visual metaphors, the situations, created only for photographs that are focused towards so called intermediate places and strange passages of monumental architectures. Images from the series ’17 Objects’, depicting associative imaginary situations as a tool for questioning the nature of the seen and meaning of visual codes, could be interpreted from precisely this perspective. With eclectic selection of motifs he narrates a non-linear storyline of individual and his omnipresence in his own natural habitat.

With a sense of humour and through constant connecting of different artistic media Tomaž Furlan (1978) reacts to social processes in his immediate surroundings by using video, sculpture and performance. Since 2006 he has been continuously working on heavyweight, sculptural-video performances 'Wear' defined as somewhat humorous but critical reflection towards unification of current Zeitgeist. Sculptures become extended functions of artist’s body in forced process. Videos from the series 'Wear' are produced in very simple documentary manner, exclusively for the camera, where the artist is an author of the whole process; he constructs non functional machine, performs his role and document the action in static video. Ongoing project represents unique personal testimony as the artist with his own absurd gestures subtly comments on the state of mind of the contemporary society: universal phenomena of alienation, mass production and consumption, and inevitability of succumbing to established social structures.

Beside certain common projects Robertina Šebjanič (1975) and Luka Frelih (1975), both functioning in the spheres of distinctly inter-media practices, work entirely independently. Šebjanič works in the field of video installations and computer generated works. In search of boundaries between rational and irrational, real and unreal, she often explores virtual constructions of imaginary world playing with the sensory perspective of spectator. Initially Frelih works in the field of computer art and virtual networking. In his engaged projects, often carried out in tandems, he advocates for open source systems and free circulation of information. Their common work 'Pufination' represent microorganisms living in an open ecosystem, while the collection of objects functions as a sensitive sensory network. Spectator is subsumed into the artificially produced »biosphere« through active sensor-based interaction. Therefore, ‘Pufination’ is incomplete without interaction. There's no leading role, we're all just cohabiting.

Miha Colner

Logotypes Robertina Šebjanič in Luka Frelih_Pufinacija Wear VIII - videoperformance photo-Tomaž Furlan (2010) Atelier of Neven Korda Maja Smrekar_Machinism_hipnagogija 00 Neven Korda_Odgovornost Peter Rauch_Hugmachine