CONTESTING THE ROUTINE

Antun Maračić
(text from the exhibition catalogue – Space for the Public, Museum of Modern Art, Dubrovnik, 2012)

Silence, whiteness, light, shadow… evading, decelerating, halting, not moving… self-abnegation, absence, defensiveness, long-lastingness… these are some of the expressive attributes and categories that mark the thinking, conduct and work of contemporary Zagreb artist Božena Končić Badurina.

No matter whether it is her paintings, installations or performances that are concerned, we shall always meet the same spectrum of these or similar structural components that, in fact, are often suggested by the actual titles of the works: Temporary Body, Faceless, Not I, Quiet Places, Hour of Silence, For Hours, Soundless Space… The last title in the sequence could stand (at least provisionally, for in spite of apparent diversities, thanks to the very uncommon creative consistency, almost every work acts synecdochically) as a paradigm of her oeuvre. In the words of the artist herself: A Soundless Space is a silent chamber for a single person, serving for the purpose of physical and almost total acoustic insulation. The only contact with the external world would be a view of the sky though the transparent ceiling. Such a silent chamber would in an ideal case be located in the public spaces of a noisy, overpopulated, contemporary city, and people would be able to creep into it for some time, from several minutes to hours at a time, as they individually need. In its properties, similar to similar chambers that are used for testing in medicine or industry, in this context it could be a place for a break, a rest, a respite from the hubbub, but for some people at the same time a place for a more intense encounter with the manifestations of their own body or mind.

At first glance, this project of 2010 (currently in existence only in the form of meticulously elaborated sketches, as preliminary architectural design) evokes the utopian longings of John Cage for absolute silence; but in fact, however much Cages was spiritually akin, Soundless Space embodies the essence of the artist’s aspiration for a caesura in the daily routine, for contemplation as method of renewal, for maintaining a possible, bearable manner of being, of all-over continuity. The work entitled Quiet Places, of similar intentions, but simpler in the performance, was produced seven years earlier (2003) in Poreč. As she herself explains: Quiet Places is a site-specific project intended to draw the attention of tourists to the quiet and secluded places of the city, outside the paths the usually tread. The places selected are marked with blue painted chairs, and all around the city brochures are left for the tourists with a map of the city and the quiet places drawn in and marked with blue dots.

A more drastic version of the contemplative approach was created in 2004 in the work To Myself, which went on in the Matica hrvatska Gallery in Zagreb. The author again:

The exhibition consisted of two parts: a copy of text To Myself of Marcus Aurelius and a seven day performance. The whole text was copied by incising the letters in tracing paper with a needle, which slowed the whole process of copying down, and makes it impossible to get rid of the mistakes that arise in the writing. The text is then pasted on a kapa fix support and the observer can read it in mirror-wise. The work of contemplation begun with copying out the text was continued in the seven day performance that went on in an niche of the gallery, into which I withdrew into isolation every day. In teh niche, I sat practically motionless for seven hours with my back turned to the visitors, from whom I was separated by a cloth partition onto which my shadow fell.

In the same year in the Studio of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Božena carried out a similar form of spiritual exercise, the work For Hours. Božena’s description: I retreat into seven-day isolation, enclosed in an cabin of opaque cloth. Via microphones and speakers, for eight hours, the sound of my breathing is uninterruptedly transmitted into the space. I do not see the visitors, or they me.

A second work entitled Coming Closer in which she was also bereft of visual contact with the audience, was put on in 2006 in the Barrel Gallery of Zagreb’s Croatian Artists Association, at the opening of the collective exhibition 1:1. This time she exhibited herself to the visitors with closed eyes, standing alone in the centre of large space. Thus she established a different kind of communication, which included mutual uncertainty as well as the activation of new perceptive and cognitive possibilities.

In the context of the 9th Triennial of Sculpture in the Zagreb Glyptotheque, in 2006, Božena put on the work Temporary Body. Wrapping her body round in aluminium foil, the author turned herself into a pedestal among the other exhibits, until the heat underneath the foil forced her to break off the appearance. Apart from getting with her own body into sessions that exhaust her, Božena like a midwife catalyses the performances of other people, achieving the same energy charge. For example in the work Connected, done in 2007, in the Barrel Gallery again, engaging larger number of people, she achieved a certain inversion of the work Coming Closer.

Along the circular wall opposite the entrance into the room, 40 extras, of different ages and sexes, stood motionlessly, eyes closed. The visitors would enter the gallery one by one and confront these mute people who could not see them.  It is important to point out that in this performance people who usually work as film extras were involved. By being engaged in this project, they once again had the chance given them to act, in the deepest sense of the word, themselves. It was the very fact of their motionlessness and deprivation of visual contact with the visitors that produced such a powerful aura of the condensed contents of their capacious, mysterious and unfathomable interiors. Forty different infinities! The artist managed to catalyse the magnificent and terrible radiation of energy with which few indeed could be confronted with without deep impressions and emotions.

At the exhibition in the Dubrovnik Museum of Modern Art the artist, along with the presentation of photographic and video documentation of the 20 years of her performances to date –including the three mentioned above – organised new interactive works, closely connected with given space and even with the personnel of the gallery, which/whom she turned into objects of interest in the exhibition.

At the opening of the exhibition the performance Auditorium. Here there were quite a large number of hired persons of different ages and sexes seated in the central room of the gallery, waiting for the visitors to come. The author thus opposed the public-exhibit to the gallery visitors, turning them at the same time into an object of observation. The visitors found themselves in an unexpected, inverse role, which on the whole they endeavoured to avoid if they could.

With a simple shift, a simple operation, a bizarre, twisted mirror image was created that cast doubt on the conventions and customs, getting things moving and away from their position of routine apathy. After the opening, the empty chairs remained in that space, now used by the regular gallery visitors, now watching, on the monitor placed on the facing wall but in the opposite direction, the video recording of the same audience space, that is, of the actual performance from the opening.

The other three works related to the concrete exhibition space, because of their specific character, or the requirement for composed and intimate communication, were put on only after the opening of the show and were carried out individually while it was on. These are the works Waiting Room, custodian and Audio Guide to the Terrace.

In the reception area of the gallery, before setting out to look at the exhibition, the visitor is asked by the custodian and a voice from the speakers that have been installed to sit and wait a little time. This seemingly pointless dilatoriness the very outset of a visit to an exhibition enables the visitor to attain composure and become prepared for the perception of new contents. For a beginning, for example, it enables a study of the leaflet that gives the basic data about the exhibition and the artist. The voice form the loudspeaker then asks the visitor to proceed to the exhibition space.

In the work Museum guard, instead of on exhibits as such, the focus is on the (women) employees who in usual circumstances are just part of the background, an obtrusive part of the museum-gallery establishment. The museum guard of the exhibition will give the visitor headphones and an MP3 player, which plays an account of the guard herself, her family status, personality features, affinities, views about life and work in the Museum.

One more site-specific work is the Audio Guide to the Terrace which inducts the visitor into an unconventional perception of the space. Instructing him to observe the architecture, the sea and the horizon that are accessible to the gaze in a specific way, to sit down in a certain place, to imitate the posture of the Meštrović figure placed there, the artist enables new visions to be opened up, the experience of the space to be enriched and enhanced.

In brief, in this Dubrovnik appearance too, Božena Končić Badurina has produced poignant works that instead of the vulgar attributes of size, weight, colour, material spectacle and aggression against the senses (everything that we meet in both art and life), offer an inverse, minimalist approach of slowing down, discreet shifts, a subtle topsy-turviness. Someone who is ready to accept the rules of the game provided and decides at least for a moment to accept the artist’s proposal for self-imagination, will get a chance for a healing, spiritual gain. Or to rephrase the artist herself: for a more sustained and vigorous encounter with the manifestations of their own body and mind. In the space for the public.

Osporavanje rutine

Antun Maračić
(tekst iz kataloga izložbe – Prostor za publiku, Umjetnička galerija Dubrovnik, 2012)

Tišina, bjelina, svjetlo, sjena…; izmicanje, usporavanje, zastajanje, nepomičnost…; samozatajnost, odsutnost, defenzivnost, dugotrajnost… dio su izražajnih atributa i kategorija koje obilježavaju razmišljanje, ponašanje i rad suvremene zagrebačke umjetnice Božene Končić Badurine.

Bez obzira na to je li riječ o njezinim slikarskim radovima, instalacijama ili performansima, uvijek ćemo se susretati s istim spektrom navedenih i sličnih strukturalnih sastojaka koje uostalom nerijetko sugeriraju i sami naslovi: Privremneo tijelo, Bez lica, Ne ja, Tiha mjesta, Sat šutnje, Satima, Mjesto bez zvuka… Posljednji naslov u nizu mogao bi (iako uvjetno, jer unatoč pojavnim različitostima, zahvaljujući nesvakidašnjoj autoričinoj dosljednosti gotovo svaki njezin rad fungira pars pro toto), poslužiti i kao paradigma njezina opusa. Riječima same autorice: ‘Mjesto bez zvuka’ je gluha komora za jednu osobu koja bi služila fizičkoj i gotovo potpunoj zvučnoj izolaciji. Jedini kontakt s vanjskim svijetom bio bi pogled u nebo kroz prozirni strop. Takve gluhe komore bi u idealnom slučaju bile postavljene u javnim prostorima bučnih i prenapučenih suvremenih gradova, a ljudi bi se u njih mogli povlačiti na neko vrijeme, od nekoliko minuta do više sati, već prema vlastitim potrebama. Po svojstvima nalik na slične komore kakve se u industriji ili medicini koriste za razna ispitivanja, u ovakvom bi kontekstu mogle biti mjesto za stanku, odmor i povlačenje od vreve, no za neke ljude istovremeno i mjesto intenzivnijeg susreta s manifestacijama vlastitog tijela i uma.

U prvi mah, taj projekt iz 2010. (zasad prisutan tek u formi pomno razrađenih skica, kao idejno arhitektonsko rješenje) evocira utopijsku čežnju Johna Cagea za apsolutnom tišinom, no zapravo – ma koliko Cage bio jedan od njezinih duhovnih srodnika – Mjesto bez zvuka utjelovljuje bit autoričinih težnji za cezurom od svakodnevne rutine, za kontemplacijom kao metodom obnove, održanja mogućeg, podnošljivog načina bivanja, svekolikog kontinuiteta.

Rad naslovljen Tiha mjesta, sličnih je namjera no jednostavniji u izvedbi, ostvaren je sedam godina prije (2003.) u Poreču. Prema objašnjenju umjetnice, ‘Tiha mjesta’ su site-specific projekt koji je trebao skrenuti pažnju turista na tihe i skrovite točke grada, izvan uobičajenih ruta kojima se kreću. Odabrana mjesta ‘označena’ su stolicama obojenim u plavo, a po cijelom gradu za turiste su ostavljene brošure s planom grada i ucrtanim tihim mjestima označenim plavim točkama.

Drastičnija verzija kontemplativnog pristupa ostvarena je 2004. u radu Samoj sebi u Galeriji Matice hrvatske u Zagrebu. Ponovno autorica: Izložba se sastojala od dva dijela: prijepisa teksta Samome sebi, stoičkog filozofa i rimskog cara Marka Aurelija i sedmodnevnog performansa. Cjelokupan tekst je prepisan urezivanjem slova u paus-papir iglom, što cijeli proces prepisivanja usporava, a greške koje u pisanju nastnu nemoguće je ukloniti. Tekst je potom lijepljen na kapafix podloge, a promatrač ga je mogao čitati zrcalno. Kontemplativni rad započet prepisivanjem teksta nastavljen je u sedmodnevnom performansu u niši galerije u koju se svaki dan povlačim u izolaciju. U niši gotovo nepomično sjedim sedam sati leđima okrenuta posjetiteljima, od kojih sam odijeljena pregradom na koju pada moja sjena.

Iste godine  u Studiju MSU-a u Zagrebu, Božena je izvodila sličan oblik ‘duhovnih’vježbi, rad Satima. Boženin opis: Povlačim se u sedmodnevnu izoalciju, zavorena u kabinu od neprozirnog platna. U prostor se preko mikrofona i zvučnika osam sati neprekidno prenosi zvuk mog disanja. Ne vidim posjetitelje niti oni mogu vidjeti mene.

Drugi rad, naslovljen Približavanje u kojem se također lišila vizualnog kontakta s publikom izvela je 2006. u Galeriji Bačva zagrebačkog HDLU-a, na otvorenju skupne izložbe ‘1:1’. Taj put izložila se posjetiteljima zatvorenih očiju, stojeći sama u sredini velikog prostora. Tako je uspostavila neku drugu vrstu komunikacije koja uključuje obostranu neizvjesnost, ali i aktiviranje novih perceptivnih i spoznajnih mogućnosti.

U sklopu IX. Trijenala skulpture u zagrebačkoj Gliptoteci 2006. Božena izvodi rad Privremeno tijelo. Omatajući svoje tijelo aluminijskom folijom, autorica se pretvara u (kožarićevsku) skulpturu i, na otvorenju izložbe, mimikrično miruje oko dva sata na postamentu među ostalim izlošcima, sve dok je vrućina pod folijom ne natjera na prekid nastupa.

Osim što se sama, vlastitim tijelom upušta u iscrpljujuće seanse, Božena, poput primalje katalizira i izvedbe drugih osoba postižući isti energetski naboj. Primjerice uradu Connected, izvedenom 2007. ponovno u Galeriji Bačva, angažirajući veći broj ljudi, ostvaruje stanovitu inverziju spomenutog rada Približavanje. Uz kružni zid nasuprot ulazu u prostor nepomično stoji četrdeset statista, različite dobi i spola, zatvorenih očiju. Posjetitelji jedan po jedan ulaze u galeriju i suočavaju se s nijemim ljudima koji ih ne vide. Važno je istaknuti da je u tom performansu bila riječ o osobama koje inače rade kao filmski statisti. Naime angažmanom na takvom projektu njima je ponovno dana prilika da, u najdubljme smislu riječi, ‘glume’ sami sebe. Upravo činjenica njihove nepokretnosti i lišenosti vizualnog kontakta s posjetiteljima, proizvela je tu jaku auru kondenziranih sadržaja njihovih prostranih, tajnih i nedokučivih nutrina. Četrdeset različitih beskrajnosti! Umjetnica je uspjela katalizirati veličanstveno i strašno isijavanje energije s kojom se malotko mogao suočiti bez dubokih dojmova i potresenosti.

Na izložbi u Umjetničkoj galeriji Dubrovnik umjetnica je, uz prezentaciju fotografske i video dokumentacije dvadesetak svojih dosadašnjih performansa – među kojima i tri posljednja navedena – organizirala i nove interakcijske radove, blisko povezane s konkretnim prostorom, pa i osobljem Galerije koje ona promovira u predmet izložbenog zanimanja.

Na otvorenju izložbe izveden je performans Gledalište. Riječ je o većem broju angažiranih osoba različitih dobi i spola koje sjede u središnjoj galerijskoj dvorani i dočekuju publiku. Autorica tako suprotstavlja ‘publiku-izložak’ galerijskim posjetiteljima, pretvarajući istodobno i njih same u objekt promatranja. Posjetitelji izložbe našli su se u neočekivanoj, inverznoj ulozi koju su uglavnom nastojali izbjeći.

Jednostavnim zahvatom-pomakom stvorena je bizarna, ‘tordirana’ zrcalna slika koja dovodi u pitanje konvencije i običaje, pokrećući stvari iz pozicije njihove rutinske ustajalosti. Nakon otvorenja, u prostoru su ostale prazne stolice kojima se sada koristila redovita galerijska publika da bi na monitoru postavljenom na nasuprotnom zidu, u obrnutom smjeru promatrala videosnimku istog tog gledališta, odnosno samog performansa s otvorenja.

Preostala tri rada vezana uz konkretno mjesto izlaganja, zbog svojeg specifičnog karaktera, odnosno zahtjeva za sabranom i intimnijom komunikacijom, realizirala su se tek nakon otvorenja izložbe i provodila individulano tijekom njezina trajanja. Riječ je o radovima Čekaonica, Čuvarica te Audiovodič za terasu.

Na samoj galerijskoj recepciji, prije nego što se posjetitelji zapute u razgledanje izložbe, čuvarica izložbe i glas iz instaliranih zvučnika mole ljude da sjednu i pričekaju neko vrijeme. To naizgled besmisleno zaustavljanje na samom početku posjeta izložbi, omogućuje posjetitelju proučavanje letka koji daje osnovne podatke o izložbi i autorici. Glas spikera upućuje ga potom da krene u izložbeni prostor.

U radu Čuvarica umjesto eksponata u fokusu su zaposlenice Galerije koje u uobičajenim okolnostima čine tek pozadinski neistaknuti dio muzejsko galerijskog pogona. Čuvarica izložbe posjetitelju daje slušalice i MP3 player koji emitira tekst inforamcije o njoj samoj, o njezinu obiteljskom statusu, osobinama, afinitetima, stavovima o životu i radu u Galeriji.

Još jedan site-specific rad je Audiovodič za terasu koji posjetitelja upućuje na nekonvencionalnu percepciju prostora. Navodeći ga da na specifičan način promatra arhitekturu, more i horizont dostupne pogledu, da sjedne na određena mjesta, da oponaša stav  Meštorvićeve figure koja se tu nalazi, autorica omogućuje otvaranje novih vizura, obogaćujući mu i oplemenjujući iskustvo prostora.

Ukratko, i u ovom, dubrovačkom nastupu Božena Končić Badurina ostvarila je dojmljive radove koji umjesto vulgarnih atributa veličine, mase, šarenila, materijalne spektakularnosti i agresije na osjetila (svega onog s čime se susrećemo u životu i umjetnosti), nude inverzan, minimalistički pristup usporenja, diskretnih pomaka, suptilne inverzije. Onaj tko pristane na ponuđena pravila igre i odluči bar načas prihvatiti autoričin prijedlog samozamišljanja, dobiva priliku za ljekoviti duhovni dobitak. Odnosno, da parafraziram samu umjetnicu: za intenzivniji susret s manifestacijama vlastita tijela ili uma. U prostoru za publiku.

 

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