An essay about the group project Nothing is Forever interrelating recent works of three artists from Slovenia: Aljaž Celarc, Klemen Ilovar & Dan Adlešič and Name:. The display of the project takes place at the new Project Space of Museum of Architecture and Design, Ljubljana.
The Nothing Is Forever project is dedicated to contemporary practices in media art. After some years of ongoing research on the status of media images and the visual distortion of viewer perception, three artists and groups from Ljubljana (but living and working internationally) showcase their recent projects, in which the transmitted image gradually transitions into factual matter. The transmitted image is thus supplemented or replaced by first-hand experience.
The work of Aljaž Celarc, Dan Adlešič & Klemen Ilovar and Name: focuses primarily on the idea of the transitory, the volatile and the ephemeral, all of which represent distinct responses to the state of affairs in the contemporary world. The only permanent thing in life is constant change. Nothing is forever: everything is in motion. This idea, on the one hand, refers to the creative practices of the featured artists, who are constantly on the lookout for new solutions and don’t merely settle for established patterns. On the other hand, it also relates to the never-ending natural and social processes of formation, change and disappearance. The exhibition will showcase three spatial interventions related to the perception and organisation of the living environment, be it natural or artificial.
The artists, all of who were originally active in photography, design and street art, draw attention to certain situations and phenomena that have had a defining influence on our time. These issues are related to ecology and our relationship with, and towards, the natural environment, a relationship that changes constantly and irrevocably as a result of human impact in the age of Anthropocene. These issues are at the core of a person’s unwavering loyalty to an ideology in a world that, being heterogeneous and complex, precludes truly radical forms of creation and utterance. These issues are also connected to the self-evident nature of a work of art in a world saturated with a multitude of images and content.
In his project In Vivo (2016), Aljaž Celarc focuses on glacial and post-glacial landscapes, their dynamics, and the way they leave their mark on the life of this planet. If In Vitro (2016) saw the artist storing a piece of ice from an Alpine glacier and replicating its original form using 3D technology, the next stage, entitled In Vivo, features a group of volunteers moving an improvised cooling system to a mountainside that has been carved out by a glacier, where the missing piece of ice is recreated under artificial conditions. This piece of ice is then laid into one of the crevices created by glacial activity. In so doing, Celarc raises urgent questions about the rapid changes in our natural environment and the ability of the human race to maintain this delicate balance using artificial means – as well as questioning whether there is any sense in doing this? Performed by a futuristic-looking group of people in an Alpine setting, this Sisyphean task can be understood both as a visualisation of the future of glacial landscapes and as a metaphor for humankind’s Lilliputian size in relation to the vast and resilient natural world.
In his work Nothing Is Forever (2017), artist Name: highlights the fragility of an image created from scrap material and in situ, in the exhibition space. The image, designed as a written slogan, chiefly serves to point out (from the artist’s point of view) the volatile and contradictory nature of the art system and its protagonists (including himself). Name: is primarily a street artist, and in recent years this art form/practice has been, occasionally, interesting to the institutional art world. But a street artist, whose work is essentially to perform or conduct illegal interventions upon public and private properties, cannot perform and build his/her own brand on the basis of his/her name. For this reason, the current unstable spatial installation, which could easily be blown away by a mere gust of wind, invites the viewer to intervene because, sooner or later (but certainly at the end of the exhibition), it will only be recorded and preserved in the form of a document.
The new dialogic work of Dan Adlešič & Klemen Ilovar is an in-depth discussion regarding the status of an object within the hierarchy of contemporary reality. Using visual associations that reflect their working process, the artists research the thin line between the artefact and its base that serves to highlight the artefact’s dedicated function. The artists create a dialogue between the artistic and the non-artistic, between the common object and the object carrying a surplus symbolic value, thereby forging unexpected and associative visual links. In the past century, almost any object could acquire the status of a work of art, if the artist (explicitly acknowledged by the system) declared it as such. The work thus demonstrates the ambivalent nature of discourse and the volatility of a work of art which, compared to a useful, designed object, is often understood as useless matter.
© Miha Colner, 5 May 2017