No Loitering Today, the Cataclysm Is Nearby

Meaningfulness, rather than numerousness, was the guiding principle for the selection of works for the group exhibition of students of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana (ALUO UL), which takes place biennially in the Alkatraz Gallery. The group exhibition is co-produced by the ALUO UL and features the works of Ajda Kadunc, Gala Alica Ostan Ožbolt, Jernej Šimec, Monika Plemen and Zdenka Pandžić. The title of the exhibition is a coinage, adapted from the names of two works of art, which can be viewed at the Alktraz Gallery. No loitering today, the cataclysm is nearby sums the everyday life of the past year or our (new) reality very well. It is a collective experience that everyone deals with in their own way. The exhibited works of art mostly belong to the mentioned time frame, but at the same time, they work outside of it.

A painter, Ajda Kadunc, who in her creative work often combines different materials and means of expressions, presents herself with a spatial installation. She employs techniques marked by spontaneity that are close to surrealistic approaches in art. Absurdity, nonsense and the intangibility of meaning, however, represent the essence that is established in dialogue between individual objects and paintings. She is interested in emerging relationships that are not subdued to conventions and are freed of patterns that characterise our perception in a materialistically and rationalistically oriented reality. It is a response to excessive objectification of not only objects, animals, but also interpersonal relationships. With the disorder that occurs when our mind collides with the unrecognisable, strange, it tries to shake our perception and provide the conditions for building a more authentic relationship towards the animate and inanimate or a different contact with everything that surrounds us: beyond meaning and reason, in the direction of logic dictated by intuition.

With the work titled Her, Monika Plemen explores the developing relationship between herself – an artist and an object – a copper plate as a substitute for a mobile phone. Although it is not a useful object, she adopted the plate to such an extent that before the end of the project, she named it Her. In her artistic creation, the artist derives mostly from graphic techniques, whereas her practice is, to a large extent, marked by processuality in connection with recording everyday moments. The final outcome of almost two weeks of coexistence with the plate is an audio book that records the allotted period of time. The cover of the book shows an empty matrix, the situation before the start of the artistic action, while the last page is the final print of the plate in the etching technique, which contains traces of thirteen days. Thus, the visual part is comprised of various prints of scratches and other blows that were created by chance, whereas the content presents a diary of contemplation on the plate, which can be read aloud. The other work with which Monika Plemen participates at the exhibition is a graphic, Forms of Nature, stimulated by the visuality of a wrinkled sheet, of which she became especially aware during one of the lockdowns. 

Among the darker works that address the present is the piece Considering that the Cataclysm is Today of a painter, Zdenka Pandžić. The artist deals with images associated with the topic of apocalypse, based predominantly on the last book of the New Testament, Revelations. Among the depictions, we find images of four horsemen of apocalypse, various beasts and mythological creatures. In this set of works of art, she combines influences from traditional religious painting with more modern forms of expressions in her own way. What is interesting is the choice of completely banal materials for the portrayal of biblical motifs. For the exhibited painting, for instance, she used a PVC floor mat and textile colours. Topics related to the predictions of the end of the world are, historically speaking, especially popular in times of major natural catastrophes and epidemics. In the process of making sense of hard times, there is doubtlessly the possibility of the increase of the irrational. Even though the topic is associated with anxiety and fear, Zdenka Pandžić balances this with a certain measure of humour and playfulness. 

Jernej Šimec opens the video entitled Memory Induced with the blueness of the water and a distorted voice of a narrator, who, thinking about his own transience, opens up the field of the existential. The work of art open to interpretation, at its core, juxtaposes the images of the city and nature. His work can be read very concretely, tied to a particular moment and place. Since the video was made in Warsaw during a rather turbulent period, it comes as no surprise that it captures the footage of mass protests against further violations of human rights (of women).  On the other hand, in his photographic practice, Jernej Šimec often questions the relations between people in a more general way, and he is also interested in humans’ attitude towards nature, which is twofold. On one side, there are humans as part of nature, whilst on the other, there is humans’ destructive attitude towards nature. The undertone with which the narrator concludes the video is grim, although it allows for the possibility of more favourable unravelling of events. 

The piece No Loitering is a commentary on the unfriendliness and inaccessibility of urban cities, highlighting the increasingly present ‘hostile architecture’, designed to deter the retention of unwanted city dwellers, often as an obstacle to sleep of the homeless people and refugees. With interventions into the city, Gala Alica Ostan Ožbolt temporarily corrects the deliberate ‘mistakes’ of such an architecture and, in this way, highlights how problematic they are as well as questions the future of the public space more broadly. At the exhibition, we can see objects, that is, some kind of negatives, created during the first implementation of the project in Linz.

The exhibition is available as a free virtual guided tour which you can visit by clicking on the player on the top of this page.

Venue: Gallery Alkatraz (Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Dates: 3.6 – 22.6.2021

Production: KUD Mreža / Galerija Alkatraz and Academy for Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana.

Artists: Ajda Kadunc, Gala Alica Ostan Ožbolt, Jernej Šimec, Monika Plemen and Zdenka Pandžić

The project “BITE of Art” is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

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