Cinemaniac Think Film 2020: Vacant Hours
Mate Ugrin, Katerina Duda, Igor Grubić

Vacant Hours: Mate Ugrin, Katerina Duda, Igor Grubić
curated by Branka Benčić

Cinemaniac Think film is support program at Pula Film Festival

The exhibition that brings together three artistic positions evolves from the eponimous film Vacant Hours by Mate Ugrin, from which it borrows the name, imagined as the central film/video installation. It is expanding three ways, structuring a dialogue around artistic voices, with films How Steel was Tempered by Igor Grubić and Currents by Katerina Duda.
Placing three artistic positions in a dialogue, Vacant Hours functions like a common denominator gathering three recent film/video works of experimental-documentary genre which, framing space and time, place and identity, reflect associations and tensions between different spatial and temporal dynamics between a man and his surroundings. Today we can speak about the ‘documentary turn’ in contemporary artistic practices as a way for artists to establish a specific relationship with the reality, redefining visual language, aesthetics, experiment through portrayals of social reality and personal, individual stories.
Each film in its own way addresses forms of the social notion of work, featuring scenes and tales of current or former workers or work spaces, matters of collective memory and social and political reality, exploring and reflecting different positions and ways of structuring atmosphere, meaning and the experience of space. Abandoned spaces of the past, vacant potential for the future and the void of dystopian non-places are spaces of articulation of artistic imagination as an (im)possible perspective confronting chaos. Recording the existing and keeping the traces of past (hi)stories re-inscribed and dissolved in the new context, refracting in a series of moments, both collective and individual, visible and invisible histories engraved on the margins into the spaces of material and social exchange. – Branka Benčić from the catalogue essay

MATE UGRIN: Vacant Hours
The short film Vacant Hours is a documentary meditation about the flow of time, isolation, the city. The protagonists are temporary migrant workers of the 3rd May shipyard in Rijeka and we see them during their free time spent mainly around the singles hotel. Quiet and contemplative scenes build a specific atmosphere manifested in light, colours, slow movement, highlighting the sense of loneliness and void. Video technology supports the extended temporal dimension of the image as a manner of fictionalising time, while simultaneously the stretched temporal dimension accentuates the tension and potentiality of the scene. What we see is time after work, i.e. the daily life of workers arising from the background, focusing on the vacant hours as a form of time at the end of the day. The highlighted temporality of image and the flow of time are treated as the central event. We watch Vacant Hours as a tribute to work, postponed work, uncertain work, work on hold, time after work. In the close proximity of the Uljanik shipyard, a wide empty space, lacking the ships to block our view, Mate Ugrin’s Vacant Hours is perceived in an entirely new fashion, imbuing the view with a specificity of context and the location of screening. A screening which might create a feeling of unease or nostalgia as an homage to the uncertain fate of Pula’s shipyards and shipbuilding. (B. B.)

In an unoccupied office building the only thing left are the plants. In a large and once lavish space, the gardener still maintains the plants specially designed to fit the interior design, selects and prepares the potted plants to be moved to new locations. The plants, which used to dominate the awe-inspiring interior in the eighties, create a new temporality in the building without people. Apart from the gardener, one firefighter is in charge of patrolling the vacant building, touring and maintaining it for no one. Plants like dracaena, fig tree and philodendron used to be an irreplaceable part of the socialist modernist architecture in the 1970s and 1980s. Today these home plants remain a powerful visual reminder of the paradigm. In Currents the relocation of plants, the only remaining inhabitants of the building, can be interpreted as part of a broader context. A change of the current: as one paradigm of perceiving space is replaced with another, the concept of the social state (and its companies) gradually disappears.

IGOR GRUBIĆ: How Steel Was Tempered
The experimental-animation film How Steel Was Tempered by Igor Grubić (2018), like a double-exposure image combining the past and the present, represents a look back, on emptied and abandoned factory plants. The central thread of the film is based on a father-son relationship. The father takes the son to the abandoned factory where he used to work. Although the factory has been for a long time only a crumbling image of the new system, the space will briefly come to life in an image of workers’ solidarity and inspire a small gesture of defiance. This symbolical act grows into a moment of catharsis re-establishing the father-son relationship. The animation film How Steel Was Tempered, evoking the heroic era not only in industry, but also in cinema, introduced human and animal characters into empty and derelict structures, accompanied by historical documentary images. This is a dark and elegiac meditation, a condensed version of the failure of personal tales and individual destinies in a collapse of communities and collectivity – says Jasna Jakšić. Like the scenes of disappearance, demolished architecture or film burning moments, Grubić’s animation film, a layered visual orchestration combining different media and techniques – drawing, photography and archival found footage material, represents fragments of space and events fading and disappearing before our eyes. (B. B.)

Mate Ugrin was born in 1986 in Pula. In 2012 he graduated in film directing from the Academy of Art in Belgrade. He holds a BA in film from the HFBK Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg and an MA in art and media from the UdK Universität der Künste Berlin. He has directed several short films.
Katerina Duda (1989) is a multimedia artist. She graduated in animation and new media from the Academy of Fine Art and sociology from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. In her work she often uses the media of social practice, action and intervention in public space, as well as documentary film and video. She has exhibited at solo and group exhibition both in Croatia and internationally. Author of two documentary films, The Cutting (ŠDF Restart) and Currents (Restart). She lives and works in Zagreb.

Igor Grubić has been active as a multimedia artist since the early 1990s. His work encompasses artistic interventions in public space, photography and film. Since 2000 he works as a producer and author of documentary films, cover stories and social engaged commercials. His works have been presented in many international institutions and at different events and film festivals and are part of collections of Croatian and international museums (Manifesta, MoMA PS1 New York, TATE Modern, MSU Zagreb, MSUB Beograd, Belvedere 21 Vienna). He has won several awards for his work. The exhibition Traces of Disappearing at the Croatian Pavilion represented Croatia at the 2019 Venice Biennale.

CINEMANIAC > THINK FILM is an ongoing exhibition and research platform re-examining the connections between film, moving images and contemporary art, implemented since 2002 as a side event at Pula Film festival. The project arises in the interdisciplinary space of intersections between contemporary audiovisual culture practices and art and is committed to a systematic re-examination of tools and media thinking in contemporary artistic and curatorial practices, working with moving images, projector images, their mutual relationship, the ways of their exploration, contextualisation, presentation and reception, creating active interaction between the social and the cultural field. Focusing on the relations between the image and the world, artists’ moving images form a view on the current cinematic and artistic trends, new visual languages of contemporary art, opening views on the current aesthetic and social phenomena.
Cinemaniac > Think Film: Perturbations is organised in collaboration: Cinemaniac Deliberations on Film / Kino umjetnika (Branka Benčić), Film protufilm / Series for Invisible Cinema (Tanja Vrvilo), Kino Katarina (Marta Baradić), Kreativni sindikat / Videoforum (Igor Grubić, Sara Jakupec)

Venue: ECPD – European Center for Peace and Development, Kapitolinum Square
Date: 30. 8. – 5. 9. 2020

Organized by: Apoteka – Space for Contemporary Art
Partner: Pula Film Festival

Supported by Ministry of Culture Republic of Croatia, City of Pula, HAVC Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Region of Istria

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