Monumental Landscapes

Miha Colner

The artistic practice of the group diSTRUKTURA (Milan Bosnić & Milica Milićević) stretches across various creative approaches depending on the medium and on the content of each particular project. Their approach is immensely broad. Through collaborative projects they profoundly discuss a wide spectrum of socio-political as well as personal issues in order to capture both the universality and particularity of their immediate surroundings. Their works are visually appealing and, to some extent, narrative in order to point out their world view as well as to explore the possibilities of artistic language, be it film, photography or painting. These features can be seen in a variety of works such as the series of paintings Urban Utopia, the socially engaged public intervention We are living in a beautiful wOURld, the video Providers and the two ongoing series of photographs, Face to Face and Not So Far Away.

The medium of photography has proved to be of exceptional importance for diSTRUKTURA in the past several years even though both its members are primarily painters. That might be, however, one of the reasons why their photographic aesthetics appears to be so picturesque and thus so distinguished. The grandioseness of motifs is very effectively reflected especially in the Face to Face series, an ongoing project which intuitively, based on their own experiences, creates a strong narrative on the relationship between man and nature. It is to be emphasized that the group applies different formal and conceptual procedures, from the monumentality of 19th century Romantic painting to the perfectionism of contemporary landscape photography.

 

In the first half of the 19th century the so-called Romantic movement established a completely new relation between man and nature. One of the most famous and radical representatives of that era was the German artist Caspar David Friedrich who, in his mature period, created a series of monumental landscape paintings showing small figures standing in front of magnificent and mystifying natural structures, like coastal lines, forests and mountains. With this in mind, diSTRUKTURA pursues the creation of ambivalent and often contradictory works by combining traditional visual elements and photography. These works are about the ordinary man, the individual who is lost in modern society’s colossal cacophony. Nevertheless, in recent history mankind has made significant industrial, technical and scientific progress that inevitably resulted in ideas aimed at subordinating and exploiting nature. Furthermore, in the Face to Face series the artists subtly question some of the most striking social and cultural norms, that is the boundaries between public and private space, the space of an individual within society. In doing so they indirectly also expose ecological topical issues that are reflected in images showing the destruction of what used to be nature through mankind’s continuous colonization of more and more space for living.

Some images echo Friedrich’s painting Monk by the Sea, while others show the face of contemporary man-made landscapes. Repetitive motifs of a couple staring at massive urban and/or industrial structures highlight the zeitgeist of the now, when man’s longevity is increasing, when lifestyles are more complex and have significantly accelerated compared to what it was just a few decades ago. Moreover, the new world order requires an omnipresent political discourse that promotes the incontestable benefits of democracy and of the free market as inseparable concepts. Thus, one of the photographs of the artists holding hands set on the fringes of Belgrade, their home city, in one of the most typified neighbourhoods, shows, in a quintessential manner, traces of global capital and local poverty. And this picture is universal. The horizon that occupies a significant part of the photograph is blurred with haze, mist and the vast lines of apartment blocks. Similarly striking are the panoramic photographs of Cairo seen from the hill above the city or the shots of the closed gold mine in the town of Majdanpek, Serbia. They all have the similar effect of anguish and anxiety one might sense in the always forward-looking but short-term thinking modern global society.

* Miha Colner (1978) is an art historian who works as independent curator, publicist, writer and editor across different fields of contemporary art. He lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Monumentalne krajine

Miha Colner

Umetniški dvojec diSTRUKTURA (Milan Bosnić in Milica Milićević) se v svojem avtorskem ustvarjanju poslužuje različnih pristopov, pogojenih z rabo umetniškega medija in pomenom posameznega projekta. V svojih delih se dotika širokega spektra tako aktualnih družbenih kot povsem intimnih tematik, da odražajo univerzalne in partikularne zgodbe njene neposredne okolice. Dela skupine diSTRUKTURA so vizualno privlačna in do neke mere narativna, s čemer umetnika poudarjata svoj svetovni nazor ter raziskujeta različne možnosti rabe likovnega jezika, pa najsi bo to film, fotografija ali slikarstvo. V tem duhu je moč brati slikarski ciklus Urban Utopia, družbeno angažirani javni projekt We are living in a beautiful wOURld, video Providers ali fotografski seriji Face to Face in Not So Far Away.

V preteklih nekaj letih se je v izrazu skupine kot izjemno pomembna izpostavil fotografski medij, četudi sta oba umetnika primarno slikarja. A morda je ravno zaradi tega njuna estetika tako svojstveno slikovita in monumentalna. Grandioznost motivov se učinkovito odraža v seriji Face to Face, kontinuiranem projektu v procesu, ki intuitivno in na podlagi intimnih izkušenj gradi zgodbo o odnosu med človekom in naravo. Slednje poudarjata s privzemanjem različnih formalnih in konceptualnih pristopov, ki se napajajo tako pri monumentalnosti romantičnega slikarstva 19. stoletja kot pri perfekcionizmu sodobne krajinske fotografije.

Romantično slikarstvo je v prvi polovici 19. stoletja vneslo v filozofijo in umetnost povsem predrugačen odnos med človekom in naravo. Eden najbolj slavnih in radikalnih sledilcev te ideje je bil nemški slikar Caspar David Friedrich, ki je ustvaril cikluse monumentalnih krajinskih slikarij. Neznatne človeške postave je umeščal pred veličastne in mistične naravne strukture kot na primer morska obala, gozdovi ali gore. Skupina diSTRUKTURA nadaljuje in nadgrajuje to tradicijo ob pomoči ambivalentnih in pogosto dvoumnih del, kjer kombinira tradicionalne likovne elemente in fotografijo. Dela se tako dotikajo predvsem malega človeka, posameznika, izgubljenega v kakofoniji velikanskega kolesja sodobne družbe. Pa vendar si je prav ta človek skozi novejšo zgodovino uspel do popolnosti podrediti naravo, jo predrugačiti, prikrojiti sebi in jo neizmerno izkoriščati. Skozi fotografski ciklus Face to Face se izrisujejo tudi subtilno izražene družbene in kulturne norme, ki pod vprašaj postavljajo meje med zasebnim in javnim, položaj človeka znotraj družbe ter se posredno obračajo k problematiki ekologije. Slednja se odraža tudi v podobah fizičnega uničevanja narave, ki je odraz nenehne človeške gonje po prilaščanju vedno novega življenjskega prostora.

Določene podobe tako spominjajo na Friedrichovo sliko Menih na obali, medtem ko ostale kažejo podobe sodobne umetelne krajine. Ponavljajoči se  motiv para, ki zre v masivne urbane in industrijske strukture poudarja duh današnjega časa, ko se človekova življenjska doba daljša, ko življenjski slog postaja vse bolj kompleksen in mnogo hitrejši kot pred le nekaj desetletji. Tovrstna nova svetovna ureditev pa je pripeljala so političnega diskurza, ki brezpogojno zagovarja demokracijo in prosti trg kot dva neločljiva koncepta. Ena izmed podob v daljavo gledajočega in za roke držečega se para je postavljena na obrobje njunega domačega mesta Beograda, v enega tipičnih predelov, ki hkrati kažejo znake globalnega kapitalizma in lokalne revščine. In prav ta podoba je univerzalna in apokaliptična. Visoko obzorje, ki zaseda večino vidnega polja, je napolnjeno z meglicami ter nepreglednimi vrstami stanovanjskih blokov. Podobno osupljive so panoramska fotografija Kaira, posneta z vzpetine nad mestom, ali posnetek zaprtega rudnika zlata v mestecu Majdanpek v Srbiji. Vse podobe pa prinašajo podoben učinek tesnobnosti, ki jo posameznik zlahka občuti v svetu vselej naprej zazrte in kratkoročno razmišljujoče sodobne globalne družbe.

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