Historical gaps (and other absences) – Ksenija Orelj

Historical gaps
(and other absences)

Ksenija Orelj

With their specific architecture, Tadić’s works look like minimized gallery or museum polygons that o er a visual revision not
only of everyday perspective but also of exhibition frameworks and the ways in which works of art are normally displayed and presented. Their hybrid forms change the ordinary impressions of an exhibition space; they disregard the standard dimensions of gallery walls and abandon the usual ways of arranging the objects along these ‘partitions’. Tadić’s exhibition in Rijeka o ers a cross-section view of his films, scale models and sketches created over the past six years. It is a tribute to the medium of drawing as the foundation of thought and imagination and a sort of recognition of the technique of collage as the means of joining and recombining of individual elements into more com- plex structures, ‘packed’ in di erent forms and formats – from animation films to studies and sketches, books and objects. The process of arranging this exhibition was based on the autor’s process of creating the installation Man standing in a Museum looking at something (2017), and the creating of animated films Moving Elements (2016), Until a breath of air (2015) and We
used to call it: Moon (2011), with an idea of forming connections among these works, while also establishing a relation to the art- ist’s previous material that influenced the aforementioned works. Owing to its characteristic display, this exhibition appears as a reconstruction of an imaginary journey in which the exhibited works appear as gaps in time. Whether they symbolize myste- rious landscapes or some recognizable locations, these works evoke forgotten times and vanishing spaces.

Each film, placed in an object reminding of an open box, magnetizes our gaze with flickers of light coming from the pro- jection in the background. The movable images invite us to ex- plore these fluid ‘travel accounts’, pictures, memories and notes that are compressed in the form of a short film. In the meantime, the works on paper, placed in a separately built structure, pres- ent themselves as the palpable traces of the material that we see in the films. The intersecting relations between the di erent media – between the film image and the physical image – take us to a saturated time-space, drawing us into a crack in the coll- ective memory and the artist’s reinterpretations of that, which sometimes include surprisingly recognizable motifs, such as those we store in our own memory. As Marko says, I use all these discarded objects as the symbols of a period; for example, pho- tos become the window to a specific historical time. Interestingly, when that window is broken, these objects cease to represent a specific moment in the past and become signs of a timeless period. In this revision and reminiscence remains a trace of mel- ancholy for the past, even though none of the photos contain the year of their creation.

The author’s audio-visual archives are built up on the boundaries between fiction and documentary form, conjuring up displaced or suppressed stories that evoke the fragments of the collective memory. His work is based on interventions into the real world, on a selection of enigmatic forms and phenomena that border with reality and, using a recognizable language, tack- le the collective issues about the direction in which the world is going: between the upward trajectories of the post-war recon- struction and the current decline, against the background of ‘the society of knowledge’ and the promises of a global connection. Without assuming a didactic or illustrative character, Tadić’s works reveal a pulsating uncertainty that eludes the reaching of fast and one-sided solutions. They form a changeable cartogra- phy that simultaneously highlights spaces-shelters and erased or borderline spaces, such as dumps or landfills. This cartography relies on rhythmic alterations of ‘pictures’: of construction and destruction, of poverty and luxury, of a defragmentation of reality as opposed to the e orts of connecting di erent forms of life. Condensing the modern history of construction and destruction, these works depict creative endeavors and destructive process- es at the same time, without defining any of them with precise temporal and spatial coordinates. However, what connects them all are the traces of modernist visions and optimism of the post- war period, when the arts and aesthetics were important factors in creating the everyday life. As for the legacy of modernism, in my ideas, interpretations and reinterpretations, I see it in the context of the postwar progress and the world’s e orts towards reconstruction, along with the optimism that new technologies and wide-spread construction were o ering to the world. A new design, a new visual language, a new way of life that appeared in that period – for example, the idea of residential buildings where people would live together – corresponded to the political ideas of the entire Europe, which started to work towards cohesion again.

The question of today’s relationship to the heritage of modernism is posed as a subtle critique of the society of spec- tacle. It is expressed as an inversion of the frantic pursuit of material interests, along with the overemphasized, quantitatively defined benchmarks of success. It is placed against the back- ground of a collapsing landscape that we roam today, like in the dystopic film Until a breath of air. The entire space dissolves in a dynamic alteration of drawing methods. Drawing and redrawing of the existing structures indicates a collective fear of collapsing into a historical abyss and total disintegration. Yet, occasional- ly there’s a little twitch, hinting at possible turn of events that could stop this downfall and defragmentation of space. Instead of dealing with the decaying and the ghostly, Moving Elements, the film that pays homage to the works of the Zagreb School of Animated Film from the 1960s and 1970s, introduce us to a utopian story of modernism. In this movable reminiscence of the characteristic visual language of the period, we follow a car as the protagonist of urbanization and the mediator of the progressive vision that, with its technological inventions, should have made our daily lives easier and loosened the boundaries of working hours and free time. A ‘spatial’ revision of modernism, embodied in the work of Vjenceslav Richter, the architect who strived for a synthesis of all arts, can be seen in The Scale Model of the Scale Model, a work based on the recently created instal- lation called Man standing in a Museum looking at something. Richter’s guiding principle if we, in this whole world, are part of an art synthesis, everything is architecture, everything is sculp- ture, everything is painting, including the observer as a motor, sculpture and psychological element3, can be recognized as the guiding principle of Tadić’s installation and the exhibition in general. The idea of synthesizing everyday life and aesthetics un- folds in a scale model made of discarded and recycled materials. Tadić’s reconstruction of the museum and the surrounding park is based on the multifunctionality of Richter’s buildings and the desire for connecting the spaces of work and the spaces of lei- sure. With its irregular form, The Scale Model of the Scale Model connects institutional spaces with entirely open public spaces, suggesting them as a structure under constant construction. With its porous in-between spaces and ‘decluttered’ overall im- pression, it causes peculiar overlapping of exterior and interior spaces, and plays with the boundaries between aesthetical and non-aesthetical contents, somewhere between the depleted and the possible. Tadić’s ‘cleaning up’, the accentuation of voids and spaces-in-between, seems to be a gesture of subversion against the nonstop amassment, cluttering and saturation that characterize the claustrophobia of today’s urban life. It also draws attention to the fundamental fragility of spaces that can be dehumanized and destroyed in a blink of an eye.

The issue of progress of today’s society is also suggested in We used to call it: Moon, a stop-motion animation of postcards that contain the artist’s interventions. This condensed view, which the artist creates by drawing over, collaging and covering the postcards or photographs, creates a noise in the observation- al patterns. It tests the normalized logic of reality divisions and reverses the dominant impression of spaces, sizes and distances, gravity and weightlessness. It deals with a phantom-like appa- rition, the discovery of a second moon, and unlike the artist’s recent films, it tends to adopt and reinterpret literary elements. Referring to SF classics that explore the motifs of discovering an unknown planet, such as The Invention of Morel (Adolf Bioy Cesares) and Verne’s novel From the Earth to the Moon, (… ) a series of maps illustrates how this discovery might have been passed on to, or omitted from, the collective imagination and how, as an invisible catalyst, the alleged moon might still deter- mine our future4. We used to call it: Moon points to a long tradi- tion of a speculative fiction that has often drawn its inspiration from unresolved dilemmas about the subconscious. Strangeness and the reversal of everydayness and common perspectives serve to stir the current points of view and remove the subject from a crisis-ridden period of life where one remains stranded between the need to do something and the inability to change the course of events. Tadić’s speculative methods skip the stand- ard measures of ‘getting by’. The spaces between the living and the non-living, the aestheticized and the discarded, point to a parallel world of a collective imagination. They encourage a pos- sible turns of events through an exploration of the subconscious, where memory resists the digitally improved classification and does not serve merely as a storage of reality, but it o ers a di er- ent version of it. Let us remind ourselves that Freud’s discovery of the subconscious coincided with the invention of film. The subconscious continues to participate in film as a pulsating sur- plus, forming a hallucinatory e ect that can undermine the domi- nant points of reference and the parameters of progression.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the processes of nullification and disfiguration often appear simultaneously with the processes of creation, where pictures from reality border with memory traces and hallucinations. A figure that is common to all these works is prosopopeia, a rhetorical device in which the non-living acquires the characteristics of a living being. Prosopopeia creates an impression of presence of something absent or lost, of an event or phenomenon distant in time or space…6 It acts as a figure of ‘runaway’, skipped (hi)stories that makes them perceivable, regardless of whether they are based on memory or fuzzy traces of the collective subconscious. As the title of the exhibition suggests, Tadić’s works reveal a com- pletion through: a journey through the positives and negatives of the history, through historical peeks and historical gaps, through absent forms and characters. The suppressed meanings are not just products of censorship in the truest sense of the word; they also present ways of capturing and conquering new, untouched realities and relationships to the world. The essence, the core or the center, especially when it comes to art, should not be imagined as a final, one-dimensional truth and reality; the core of the symbolic reality involves comprehensiveness, inclu- sion, and not reduction; it surpasses particularities and partial meanings, but rejects those abstractifications that exclude the games of possibility or multi-dimensionality.

http://www.msu.hr/?/hr/21220/ Tadić’s installation was created as a site-specific work for the Richter Collection of the MSU in Zagreb,
as part of SintArt 07 project. http://www.laurabuliangallery.com/assets/press-release_marko-tadic.pdf Cf., https://www.ipu.hr/content/zivot-umjetnosti/ZU_92-2013_018-033_ Kovac.pdf

Cf., http://www.enciklopedija.hr/natuknica.aspx?id=50816
Muharem Pervić, U traganju za metodom, foreword in: Frederic Jameson, Političko nesvesno: pripovedanje kao društveno-simbolički čin, Rad, Beograd, 1984, p. 27