5 years of apoteka….
work in progress
Ben Cain, Igor Eskinja, Tina Gverović & Siniša Ilić, Vlatka Horvat, Marko Lulic, Damir Očko, Mladen Stropnik, Marko Tadic , Dino Zrnec & Nick Oberthaler
Curated by: Branka Benčić
In the period between 2014 and 2018, Apoteka – Space for Contemporary Art from Vodanjan conceived a programme around the research of “temporary encounters”. During that period, over ten exhibitions of various formats and dynamics were held. The exhibitions explored the exhibition format and the conditions and possibilities of exhibition practices. Due to the inaccessibility of a larger space for organizing more complex exhibition formats, “Temporary Encounters” were held as an “exhibition throughout time”. Thus, it comes across as a loosely connected unit and form of an intervention, an exhibition which is not understood as a “fixed and complete constellation”, but rather as something that gradually changes over several months, chapter by chapter, during which every stage can be seen individually or as part of a continuity. “Temporary Encounters” deal with the exhibition model and format as means of exhibiting, grammar and the typology of the “solo” and “group” exhibition. Later on, it acquired an additional concept called “This is (not) a museum”. Through it, Apoteka, standing in opposition to the existing institutions, tries to articulate the local context in which it operates, its own position, and its organisational strategy in Istria.
The exhibition Temporary Encounters is focused on examining spatial relations and interactions between objects and subjects, conceptualizing procedures, treatments and relations within artworks, the art system and gallery space. It does so by enveloping the artistic positions which deal with the issue of (re)presentation and ‘exhibiting’ practices. The works reveal the tension between space, the observer and the observed. We encounter them as a series of interrelations and fissures which are entangled in a temporary environment. The unseen and hidden are made visible, construction and deconstruction are revealed; we are reminded of the temporary and constructed character of the exhibition. In different ways, Temporary Encounters conceptualize the relations between an art space, an artwork, the art system and the institutional context.
The exhibition presents several artistic positions and practices, while the artworks are produced in various media, such as video, animation, installation, object, spatial intervention, collage, photography. The participants belong to, more-or-less, the same generation of artists from Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Austria, Slovakia – Igor Eškinja, Damir Očko, Vlatka Horvat, Tina Gverović, Siniša Ilić, Dino Zrnec, Nick Oberthaler, Jasmina Cibic, Mladen Stropnik, Marko Tadić, Petra Feriancova, Marko Lulić…. The exhibition in the Galženica Gallery aims to give an overview of the exhibitions from Apoteka’s programme by (re)activating its artworks in a new context, within a group exhibition, to test them and examine their effects and discourses when decontextualized, displaced from a programmatic framework.By examining Jacques Rancier’s claim from The Emancipated Spectator – “The spectator is held before an appearance in a state of ignorance about the process of production of this appearance and about the reality it conceals;” the exhibition attempts to explicate fixed positions through the articulation of procedures and relations within an artwork and institutional context, thereby making them visible and comprehensible to the observer. In that sense, the self-reflexivity in the works of the featured artists situates the referential field within the space where an artwork and art as a system are created and set in motion. The focus is placed on space, objects and the art process, presenting the dimension within which the expression points to the situation, context and its own expressivity or structure.
Vlatka Horvat’s What Remains speaks about the process of gradual disappearance and the traces that are left behind. The work What Remains is self-referential, pointing to what is happening to the artwork itself, while we can apprehend it as an homage to the abandoned space of a former pharmacy, and its (after)life as Apoteka – Space for Contemporary Art.
Setting up his photography in dialogue with the exhibition space, Igor Ekšinja suggests the mechanisms of representation and reception behind the relationship between images and a 3D space which heighten our perception. Igor Ekšinja’s work is characterized by spatial interventions, simple procedures that result in seemingly complex structures, and are based on the transfer between two and three dimensions, ambiguity of perception and tensions between physical reality and sensory spheres, imagination, perception, materiality and dematerialization.
Damir Očko’s collages are usually based around a central cinematic piece. If viewed independently, as formal and conceptual experiments, we notice traces of Očko’s methodology. The artist explores the syntactic and linguistic permutations, interrelationships, distortions. The fracture on which the idea about collage builds up, is a fissure in the fabric of the text. Provoking a break in reception analogue to the fragmentation of the work of art itself, dismantles fixed constellation. It is in such places as breaks, ruptures and fractures that the meaning is formed and sometimes impossible to verbally articulate.
The video Chameleon, created by Tina Gverović and Siniša Ilić, was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, in collaboration with Tate Modern, London, whereby the museum context was crucial for forming the central narrative of the work. Chameleon was created in dialogue with the exhibition space and, in turn, constituted the space itself, which, in various ways – physically, metaphorically and phenomenologically – relies on the questions and methodology of exhibiting, joining together the concept, construction and narrative. Through a sequence of rehearsed actions, a scattered collective of performers introduce imbalance, insecurity and constant changes into the performative video. They strive to understand the space and objects; they move, join together and develop the choreography of their interrelations.
The joint works by Nick Oberthaler and Dino Zrnec foster a specific relationship towards, on the one hand, painting and image – as a medium, object and institutional practice – and, on the other, towards an exhibition and the exhibition process, within a broader field of painting and spatial relations and within a framework of performativity aimed at getting closer to the object, installation and space. Through minimalist and conceptual strategies, Dino Zrnec and Nick Oberthaler are creating works as an expanded studio practice, as part of a process and reflection on the spaces where art is produced and exhibited, as well as the displacement of that process.
Mladen Stropnik’s artistic practice is shaped around minimalist and conceptualist practices, and his artistic gesture builds upon the intervention into everyday spaces, immediate and recognizable spaces, while at the same time uncanny and distorted, hinting to materials, protocols and procedures used in seemingly formal experiments.
In her work, Petra Feriancova often intervenes in various forms of archives – vernacular, private, repository of memories, establishing possible forms of organization and interpretation of different materials – found images, photographs, discarded, forgotten objects or objects from nature. Petra appropriates the found photographs from a lost photo-album, together with other people’s memories which she collects and guards with care. She achieves this by maintaining a relationship with their lives, their history, existence, death, survival, vulnerability, with an “archival impulse” and through a personal vision marked by a specific economic expression, conceptual provenance and procedures of repetition, re-arrangement and reorganization.
Marko Lulić is interested in the mechanisms of translation and transposition, transference of context, the process of alteration of relationships and relocation of meaning. Lulić fills objects and spaces with completely new meanings with the help of a shift in the material or the concept, pursuant to formal aspects, cultural and social themes, while a series of text based drawings refer to the context of an artwork, exhibiting process, institutions of art and art system.
In the film The Pavilion (2015), Jasmina Cibic’s model of architecture plays a crucial role, while the film builds on the artist’s interest in the politics of representation. The narrative of the work develops around two architectural objects, that is, their “invisible ruins”, which belong to the cultural landscape of European modernism. Designed in 1929 and 1927, respectively, these are the national pavilion of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia at the Barcelona EXPO, designed by the Serbian modernist architect Dragiša Brašovan, and the house for Josephine Baker, designed by Adolf Loos, which remained unrealized. In line with Loos’ “ornament and crime”, the artist constructs and deconstructs the model of architecture as a performative act in which she merges together the Yugoslav pavilion and Josephine Baker’s hose into a unique architectural object. The film The Pavilion proposes an architectural model which simultaneously represents architecture and inscribes the potential and possibility of constructing physical architecture and social space, as well as frames the object of desire.
This is (not) a museum, the exhibition by Marko Tadić at Apoteka was formed around the idea of a museum and exhibition practises. Tadić’s works from the series Table of Contents or Accumulation of images from below were created based on the artist’s long-term interest in the art institutions. Tadic’s “accumulation” of images and contents take shape as different forms of reproduction and reconfigurations of museum exhibition displays and fragmented and imaginary scenes from exhibitions, collections and their appropriations; they represent fictional places of art institutions. Exhibition dispositives engaged by the author are the tools for deconstructing and revealing complex constellations: spaces, architecture, exhibition, works. Tadić’s models of museums, structures for exhibiting or projections, can constitute a metonymic model of architecture, as a place for inscribing different ideas and positions.