Človek in okolje

Program Človek in okolje (2010)

Video programme offers a selection of seven videos by artists of different generations and diverse sensitivities, chosen for Heights from the DIVA Video Archive of the SCCA, Center for Contemporary Arts – Ljubljana. The archive, both physical and virtual, promotes research, documentation and archiving of works based on videos and on the new media since the beginning of the videoart, offering an interesting insight on the vast production of Slovenian artists.
The variety of methodologies and approaches present in these works offers an idea of the multitude of possible viewpoints on the complex relationship between the man and his environment.
Once the logic of domination is set aside, the man seems to dream about or rediscover the possibility of an equilibrium, which opens to a spiritual dimension of regained wellness. But in what terms, in the Western world, which has always conceived the relationship with the environment in terms of exploitation, can we speak of reciprocity between the man and nature?
If in the individual and subjective dimension of being immersed into dreams a reconcilement is possible and brings with it the overcoming of the traditional dualism between physicality and spirituality, rationality and emotiveness, the collective perspective inevitably clashes with the contradictions implicit in the presumption of being able to interpret, live and manage nature.
Starting from these reflections, a continuity can be found in the proposed videos, if we consider the man as the real protagonist, even when absent. It is par of the human nature to establish relationships with all that is out of his self. The human being is curious, and precisely from the confrontation with the outside derives his need to define his identity.
In the video Unbreakable by Ana Čigon, nature is personalized up to becoming a metaphor, and above all an instrument that allows to explore actions, reactions and thoughts which are part of the human behaviour in any everyday context. It is the starting point for a reflection about the female condition and about the human condition in general, in its fragile and precarious equilibrium between vulnerability and resistance.
Nika Oblak and Primož Novak look for a communication with the environment that becomes a real adventure. The two artists document their journey from Slovenia to Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, started with the aim to establish a world record for a walk by foot with a wheelbarrow. Their personal challenge is accompanied by ecological themes and tries to sensitize about a more authentic way of living, obviously with great irony towards the stereotypes with which the media very often treat environmental issues. But Going South is above all a document on a total life experience, which has allowed the travelers to find the purest human dimension in connection with the earth.
This connection is transformed into a spontaneous fusion in the video by Mirjana Batinić, and in identification in the one by Vesna Čadež. Medusa is the artist, moving sensually and fluidly under water, in some kind of particular dance. The legs are wrapped into a long draping that emphasizes the sinuous movements of swimming, while the light contrasts and the black and white technique add up to create the effect of continuity between the body and the water, giving the sensation that the creature is immersed in its natural habitat, or into and intimate inner world.
The nature of Vesna Čadež moves away from reality to take the mind into the dimension of dreams. Using a pictorial language, Layering generates a glowingly lush environment by superimposing colours. Trees, branches, flowers are recognizable, as is the man, in some kind of primeval harmony, an expression of a fresh aesthetical creativity. It seems as if the generated image could be enriched by new elements to infinity, offering a renewed version of a landscape painting.
With the video by Damijan Kracina, the attention is moved to the animal world. The artist reverses the viewpoint, leaving the man outside, yet considering him his privileged interlocutor. From the screen emerges the figure of a marble trout looking at the observer, but its attempt to establish a dialogue fails in a mute, potentially infinite conversation. By starting from a criticism of the animals breeding system, which upsets natural equilibrium, Interview with Threatened Kind warns about the problem of incommunicability between the two dimensions. The silence, the obscurity and the exceptional dimensions of the trout disorient, causing a sense of unease, but probably also the desire to understand better.
Andrej Lupinc – Lupo enlarges the perspective again, offering a concentrated excursus with music and images on the world and its variegated humanity. The beauty and grandeur of nature in its diverse forms, as also the artificial charm of the cities and the chaos of the urbanized landscapes are narrated with an extremely lyrical, yet not idealized freedom. It seems that the author wants the point out how traditions, needs and life paces are inevitably conditioned by the different relationships established between the communities and the environment.
If the video In Eight Minutes Around the World transforms reality into poetry, the experimental documentary by Nataša Prosenc explores the real translation of an illusion. This last work shows the construction phases of a building in the Arizona desert at the beginning of the 90s, one of the most spectacular green houses ever built in the world, “Biosphere2”. By artificially reproducing the conditions of the nature biosphere, it was planned to become a perfectly self sustainable and ideal habitat in which man should have been supposedly able to live. Of this experiment, failed both from the sociological and the environmental point of view, the video documents only the construction phase, which illustrates the ambitious human efforts in challenging the limits imposed by nature. The images are accompanied by the words of Gertrude Stein, which aim at bringing the naive and spectacular dimension of the utopia to a more human perspective, introducing repetitions and idiosyncratic elements. Construct thus makes us remember that even the construction of new environments belongs to the human nature, often in competition with the environment itself, as it contributes to man’s perception of his identity and responds to the temptation, probably indelible, to feel being a “creator”.

Laura Spolero

Laura Spolero, študentka Università degli Studi di Udine, Scuola di specializzazione in Beni storico-artistici, v Udinah, je bila na trimesečni študijski praksi z naslovom “Metode arhiviranja avdiovizualne sodobne umetnosti” pri SCCA–Ljubljana (april–junij 2010).