THE HARBOUR; INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE


1. We are stopped at the junction of two feverish Ljubljana streets, the daily migration zones of countless processions and informational impulses. We have therefore found ourselves at a somewhat unusual place for an artistic intervention, but one that is all the more accessible to many. From the semantic aspect, the word port suggests a meeting point of two elements, water and earth, a transitional area of arrivals and departures, a vibrant communication intersection, perhaps even a place concealing Columbus' latent hope. In the street context, the author wishes to reinterpret the port as an imaginary place that would preserve the role of fluency, and anchor our view in the swarming of visual stimuli. He can only do this by assimilating and winning attention and recognition in a public area of urban bustle and informational overabundance (particularly on the display dominating the intersection from a height once granted to icons).

2. The perception of a place – display window, showcase, which is primarily designed for market promotion, but is now temporarily being used for a more liberating creative intervention – is immanent in the very presentation of Jemec's visual, illuminated object, the Port. It determines the very reception of a work and invites us to contemplate on our attitude towards the globalizing effects of images which, having the identity of market logotypes, are forcing themselves on us from everywhere and dictating our view. Jemec confronts the challenge of a visually aggressive place by accepting its rules and even the exhibition of its promotional mechanisms as a co-creative part of the project. By setting up a visual, illuminated object in a market niche, with light show effects and of supernatural size – which is the only way it can compete with »jumbo« advertisements –, and in particular with a logo that already has the function of a »stamp«, thus making it a brand of a product replacing the author's signature, Gašper Jemec consciously designates his presentation tools and their context with an advertising »aura«, which he simultaneously attempts to surpass.

3. In this opportunist presentation of an artistic work that is decisively transposed into a daily context out of the desire to be visible and accessible, nothing useful or concrete is being sold or advertised. On the contrary, by confronting the motif, which maintains a »meditative« stance, with the noisy strategies of its presentation, which stimulate its own functionality, the interpretative ambivalence of Jemec's illuminated object becomes apparent. This is additionally accentuated by the paradox between the placement of the image on the street, outside of an art gallery, and the physical distance created by a fence in front of the showcase, obstructing any attempt to approach it. This is reminiscent of the strict museum safety protocols for valuable works of art, ironically presented by the author.

4. In an alluring and disturbing way, Jemec unites the appearance of natural and artificial: upon closer inspection, the portrayee's overdimensioned »photographic« face and the sea background reveal digital processing; the multi-coloured light effects replace natural sunlight, making the static image more dynamic; bands of lively pop colours crawl across the structure of the face, creating rainbow reflections on the water surface – a blur that can eventually be seen as the »dissolved« figure of an otherwise absent body under water; there is a tension between the tendency towards flatness typical of a two-dimensional image, and the magnetism of an illusion.

5. Blissfully floating in this in-between space is a gigantic, shaven, completely uncovered and accessible head, a sensorium of experience and a communication relay, whose absent, colourless expression is stimulated only by visual impulses resembling the waves of information surfing that we use to connect to the modern world.

6. Again, we are brought back to the beginning, to the showcase, transformed into a screen of our illusion which stimulates desire and dictates a longing for belief in something that in reality doesn't exist, but is nevertheless realized in our heads. Illusionism intensifies the physical withdrawal of the image from the windowpane into the showcase and the gleaming border, which is reminiscent of a traditional painting frame and functions as the foreground, a threshold for entry into the image. Using the selected presentation strategies, Gašper Jemec draws our attention to the structure of the image's reception. Even the text before you, like everything else in this context, enters the image's reading code. Nevertheless, let us allow ourselves to hope for a meaning that escapes the power of the (con)text.

7. Have we ever imagined how long we can ignore gravitation and float?

 

Nadja Gnamus, 2007

 

Author bio

Nadja Gnamus (born 1975) is an art historian and a free-lance art critic. She is finishing her doctoral dissertation in Historical Antrophology of Visual Arts at Ljubljana Graduate School of the Humanities. She writes art criticism and studies for exhibition catalogues and publishes articles on modernist and contemporary art and theory.




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