Closed Spaces (group exhibition)
Text by Majda Pardeilhan
The exhibition Closed Spaces connects six authors from six partner cities united under the project Maribor 2012 -European Capital of Culture. The six artists are connected by the same thematic origin, which is however interpreted by each one of them through the prism of their own creative poetics. The guiding theme of the exhibition thus splits into various direction s and forms several storylines, and it offers an insight from various points of view, and represents varying approaches to the interpretation of the fundamental theme. The thematic core is represented by c10sed spaces -spaces that are dedicated to people or tightly connected to them, but are currently c10sed or inaccessible due to various reasons. Every author searches for their own response to a challenge placed before them by the set starting point, they emphasize a different subject, and offer their own reflections. Each one chooses a motif of their own will-a space they see, perceive, or experience as a c10sed space, granting a personal and subjective character to the entirety. Most of the time, it is not the physical characteristics that shut the represented spaces, or make them inaccessible (actually, the presence of the photographer contradicts that idea). It is the symbolic material, and sensual levels that are denoted as such, creating certain barriers to how they are experienced or perceived. In most cases, the recognisability of the space itself does not play a major role even though individual elements (in some places expressed more strongly, in some places more concealed) allow the observer to reveal and recognize them. A more irnportant role goes to the iconographic meaning of the space, which reveals a certain topic, exposes individual space perception layers, or introduces new elements for its understanding. Beside various approaches by the authors, the collage is made up of diverse irnages that explicitly tell a story about the inaccessibility of an individual space, or emphasize details or symbols, thus indirectly telling its story, or create a whole new, symbolic space.
Jože Denko presents himself with a series of black and white photographs characterized by strong symbolism. The author builds and (re)creates spaces with compositional elements. In most cases, the photographs are about external spaces, which gain the contours of an "inner" space through the intervention by the author, and the choice of perspective. At the same time, playing around with the perspective additionally emphasizes its scenes and condition of being limited, which are as a whole only foreboded by the observer since they never rea1ly see its complete extent. The space is thus observed from the inside out, and light is an irnportant element that builds it and helps to create it on several levels. Strong contrasts in light warrant the story a dramatic element, and contribute significantly to its contents.
On the other hand, Boris Farič uses a much more direct or "realistic" language to tell his story. It offers viewers an insight into inner spaces - once grand, magnificent, and regal, but today deserted, abandoned, and left to the ravages of time. The images of decaying buildings hit us like a reminder, but the soft light and delicate colouring soften the heaviness of the contents, and envelop the photographs within a veil with a touch of romance, which usua1ly accompanies the images of rubble and ruins. The balanced composition and the harmony of the entirety allow the viewer to move away from the content itself at least for a moment without reducing its meaning, and allow them to surrender themselves to the aesthetic pleasures brought upon them by the photographs.
A range of diptychs by Tom Jeseničnik represents pairs of two space s that are completely different in their contents, as well as in their purpose, although those spaces are united by a formally similar design. The game of contrasts emphasizes the differences that take place on the symbolic level. On the one hand, we witness an orderly, majestic space, on the other hand a decayed and abandoned one. On the one hand, it is an immaculate, intangible sacred space (also non-sacral architecture gives this impression), on the other hand, it is an exposed secular space on which reality has begun to take its toll, or which it has already destroyed. With a sophisticated feeling the author presents numerous expressive images that provide possibilities to different interpretations on several levels.
Aleksander Kavčnik has dedicated his photographs to the Velenje Coal Mine. Despite recognizable images the author does not take us directly into the pits. His images talk about the space and the people who se lives have been marked by the coal mine, and are strongly connected to it. They tell this story indirectly or via attributes, which are part of this iconography. People are not usually present in the photographs. If they are, it is in the form of reflections, or only as a premonition, even though the material world shown in the photo-graphs, as well as the way in which it is shown very expressively talks about those people and their lives. The black and white photos are characterized by a cold atmosphere that provides the viewer with a certain feeling, and allows them to literally feel the additional dimension of the presented space.
In his interpretation, Bojan Radovič combines the abstract and realistic expression. The images of an empty, abandoned space that is shown from various points of view are connected into a polyptych with the details from the walls of that space. The isolated details function as independent images and give the feeling of abstractness. The alternation of the expressive rhythm gives certain dynamics and compositional balance to the entirety. The purified and minimalistic way of expression that marks the entirety, as well as its individual parts, supports the emptiness that is so strongly present in the space, and emphasizes the inaccessibility, which is additionally underscored by the whiteness of the space.
The group of six authors is completed by Branimir Ritonja, who has chosen a completely abstract language as his means of expression, which allows the viewer to recognize the space shown. An experienced observer can perhaps recognize merely from the details provided that the space shown is a wine cellar. With the choice of spatial elements, the author dedicates his works in the first place to the formal quest, and plays around with the selected perspectives, which gives the feeling of two-dimensionality and flatness. Spatial characteristics are concealed, whereas abstracted forms rise before the viewers. Still, the abstraction tells a lot and is verbose, as well as provides the perception of the space itself, which is only emphasized by the all but monochromaticity of the expression.
Fotogalerija Stolp, Maribor
18. 1. 3. 3. 2012