• Ljubljana / London
Miha Colner

Case study on vernacular photography

Case study on vernacular photography

Case study on vernacular photography

The Doubles project that displayed works of Ljubljana based artists Noemi Veberič Levovnik and Arven Šakti Kralj Szomi was initially shown at DLUL Gallery, Ljubljana in frames of Month of Photography in Ljubljana.

The joint project entitled Doubles showcases photography by Noemi Veberič Levovnik and Arven Šakti Kralj Szomi. Duality, the leitmotif of the project, shapes the works of both artists on several different levels.

Arven Šakti Kralj Szomi, Empty or Full, 2014

Arven Šakti Kralj Szomi, Empty or Full, 2014

Both artists deliberately choose to disregard the postulates of photography, each in her own signature style. They search for the extraordinariness of everyday moments using the language of vernacular photography as their artistic statement. This makes them atypical seekers, or creators of images. They explore various ways of using or recycling photographs, a highly undefined medium, in terms of message. Utilising found photographs and drawing on her own references, Noemi Veberič Levovnik constructs the fictional story of a complete stranger. Arven Šakti Kralj Szomi, on the other hand, focuses on exploring so-called informal photography, where images are taken spontaneously and without profound deliberation, as visual vignettes for some unarticulated ideas. Both artists tell stories of intimate environments, stories that hide more than they reveal. Yet they produce highly associative photographs, the lack of context only increasing the challenge of attempting to interpret their works rationally.

Noemi Veberič Levovnik, Burn Old Love, Burn, 2016

Noemi Veberič Levovnik, Burn Old Love, Burn, 2016

In her series Empty or Full, Arven Šakti Kralj Szomi exhibits photographic diptychs, reflecting on everyday chores and occurrences. Their square format implies (or indeed derives from) the instantaneousness of Instagram, an online platform used primarily to directly capture and circulate private occasions. Today, Instagram is the most elementary form of vernacular photography. The artist’s motifs are highly informal and intimate, ambiguous yet associative, invariably based on subtle duplication of motifs and meanings. Each diptych tells its own non-linear story, pointing to archetypal subjects such as birth and death, captivity and freedom, and the life cycle.

Arven Šakti Kralj Szomi, Empty or Full, 2014

Arven Šakti Kralj Szomi, Empty or Full, 2014

In a sense, the ‘life cycle’ is also a subject matter for Noemi Veberič Levovnik. If a personal album of photographs is a reflection of one’s life, then the loss of an entire archive could, at least symbolically, represent one’s death. By chance, the artist happened upon a vast collection of personal photographs of a complete stranger chronicling a long period of his life. The found material opens up a number of questions: Who is the person in the photographs? And most importantly, what is the reason the photographs were discarded? Noemi Veberič Levovnik reconstructs his life based on her own expectations, notions and fixations, which hint at the obsessiveness of modern voyeurism. The photographs were subjected to examination, attempted interpretation, performative refinement, and physical intervention by the artist culminating in a fictional story steeped in the universal power of image.

Noemi Veberič Levovnik, Burn Old Love, Burn, 2016

Noemi Veberič Levovnik, Burn Old Love, Burn, 2016

 

© Miha Colner, May 2016

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