• Ljubljana / London
Miha Colner

Monumental Landscapes

Monumental Landscapes

Monumental Landscapes

The text was initially written for the Face to Face show by artist group diSTRUKTURA at Photon – Centre for Contemporary Photography (Ljubljana) in 2009.

The artistic practice of the group diSTRUKTURA (Milan Bosnić & Milica Milićević) is stretched across various creative approaches depending on the medium and on the content of each particular project. Their approach is immensely wide. With collaborative projects they profoundly discuss wide spectrum of socio-political as well as personal issues in order to capture both, universality and particularity of their immediate surroundings. However, 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 could be seen in a variety of works such as the series of paintings Urban Utopia, socially engaged public intervention We are Living in a Beautiful World, video Providers and two ongoing series of photographs, Face to Face and Not So Far Away.

diSTRUKTURA, Not So Far Away 4, 2010

diSTRUKTURA, Not So Far Away 4, 2010

In past few years medium of photography has been proven to be of exceptional importance for diSTRUKTURA even though both of its members are primarily painters. However, that might be one of the reasons for their photographic aesthetic appears to be so picturesque and thus so distinguished. 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 dealing with the relation between man and nature. The group thus applies different formal and conceptual approaches to the art making, from the monumentality of 19th century romantic painting to perfectionism of contemporary landscape photography.

diSTRUKTURA, NBGD3, Face to Face, 2007

diSTRUKTURA, NBGD3, Face to Face, 2007

In the first half of 19th century completely new relation between a human and nature was established by so called romantic movement. One of the most famous and radical representatives of that era was 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, i. e. coastal line, forests or mountains. Bearing that in mind diSTRUKTURA pursues the creation of ambivalent and often contradictory works by combining traditional visual elements and photography. These works are about an ordinary man, an individual who is lost in enormous cacophony of modern society. However, throughout the recent history humankind managed to make significant industrial, technical and scientific progress which inevitably resulted in ideas to subordinate and utilise the nature. Furthermore, in the Face to Face series the artists subtly question some of the most striking social and cultural norms, i. e. the boundaries between public and private space, the space of an individual within a society, and thus, indirectly, they also expose topical issues of ecology. The latter is reflected in the images showing destruction of what used to be nature as humankind constantly seeks to colonise more and more living space.

diSTRUKTURA, Missing Hill 1, Face to Face, 2005

diSTRUKTURA, Missing Hill 1, Face to Face, 2005

Some images resemble Friedrich’s painting Monk on the Shore, while several others show the face of contemporary man-made landscape. Repetitive motifs of a couple staring at a massive urban and/or industrial structures highlight the zeitgeist of now, when human lifespan is increasing, when lifestyle is more complex and significantly faster than just few decades ago. Moreover, new world order requires omnipresent political discourse which promotes unquestionable benefits of democracy and free market, as inseparable concepts. One of the photographs of the artists, holding their hands, is therefore set on the fringe of their home city of Belgrade, amongst some of the most typified neighborhoods, quintesentially showing traces of global capital and local poverty. And this picture is universal. The horizon that occupies significant part of the photograph is blurred with haze, mist and vast lines of apartment blocks. Similarly striking are panoramic photographs of Kairo, seen from the hill above the city or shots of the closed cold mine in the town of Majdanpek in Serbia. They all have similar effect of anguish and anxiety that one might sense living in the always forward-looking but (too) often short-term thinking modern global society.

Miha Colner, May 2009

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