VLATKA HORVAT: BESIDE ITSELF
Opening: November 18, 2011, 6–9pm ŻAK | BRANICKA is delighted to present Vlatka Horvat’s first solo-exhibition at the gallery.Investigating the politics and poetics of spatial arrangement, order and organization, interpersonal and social relations, Vlatka Horvat’s practice explores the characteristics of interaction between the body, the built environment and the objects that inhabit it. In her collages, photographs and installations, Horvat often places the body in awkward, puzzling and uncanny positions, situating it on the horizon of objecthood—a move which questions the stability of categories and structures through which social and political meaning is made. Whilst the body in Horvat’s work is repeatedly depicted as disjointed and discombobulated, situated between functional and dysfunctional, between subject and object, the space in which it performs its often absurdist and Dadaist operations is itself “out of joint”.
Horvat approaches built space and time as series of elements, which can be re-arranged and reconstituted, as though the true nature of both might only become intelligible through the process of unraveling them. In these procedures—which include cutting and severing objects, merging them with other dismantled objects, or intervening in built spaces by emulating elements of architecture using cheap disposable materials such as sponge, cardboard and rubber bands—the space, the objects and bodies it contains (and which produce or contain it), all converge into a puzzling and uncanny field of new special and temporal becomings.
Ground Coil (2011) is an ephemeral arrangement of cardboard strips joined together to form a spiral which emanates from – or moves towards – the centre of the gallery space. The work transforms the space with a simple gesture using impoverished materials, negotiating and bringing into focus a dysfunction of several incoherent geometrical elements: the spiral, the square and the line. The linear cardboard strips have to be bent at different points as they follow the process of becoming a spiral. The round shape they eventually form will never be perfect and therefore the work’s transformation of straight lines of the cardboard strips into a circular shape contains a certain unresolved tension. The wider the spiral becomes, the looser and less circular it gets. The strips are bent at fewer points and the round spiral becomes (un)naturally more square, as if trying to adapt to the rectangular room that contains it. The viewer entering the space is forced to move along the walls and negotiate the obstacle, following its shape around the room. The gallery thus becomes a landscape, both constrained and activated by the presence of the parasitic object that inhabits it.
Horvat’s practice is embedded in ludic and often humorous investigations and inversions of the realms of the visible and the hidden, while at the same time pointing to the need to enter into new configurations of (individual, communal) potentiality—past, present and future. The latter especially comes to the fore in a new series of 30 collages, entitled With the Sky on Their Shoulders (2011), in which the artist reaches for what lies beneath the surface of her family photographs from the 1960s and 1970s, made in Socialist Yugoslavia, at the time when the idea of solidarity, belief in the future and progress were still at their pinnacle. Horvat’s mode of ‘entering’ these images—all featuring her parents as young adults—through a set of sophisticated (though nonetheless aggressive) formal gestures, suggests an almost infantile attempt of evicting the intergenerational transfer of the sense of loss and disillusionment. Scissoring between the figures or inverting the figures’ inside out in order to penetrate and expose what is beneath the image of the collective optimism is undertaken only to encounter the void, the blank spot of frozen time emerging as a distant sign of the coming fall.
(Sections of the text by Antonia Majača)