The text was initially written for the overview exhibition Variations of Photography (1969-1980) by Slovenian artist Stane Jagodič at Photon – Centre for Contemporary Photography in Ljubljana in December 2013.
Stane Jagodič’s practice is based on variety of artistic practices, including photography and their creative variations such as photo-montage, photo-collage and photo-performance. The exhibition showcased a selection of the most significant works from his extensive oeuvre – amongst them also some of the previously unpublished works – which characterise his artistic activities in the expanded field of art photography; one of the strongest aspects of his body of work. Between 1969 and 1980 Jagodič created a number of works exploring and questioning the possibilities of the photographic medium within the field of visual art. Despite his seemingly formalistic approach, his works from this period profoundly reflect the spirit of his time and place.
Jagodič’s extensive body of work in the so called field of experimental photography was crucially exposed and acclaimed in 1973, when he was selected to take part in the Nova fotografija (new photography) exhibition which was the predecessor of the ongoing project now known as Nova F. Some of the most active and significant Yugoslav artists working in the medium of photography were shown within the frame of this exhibition (the curators were Stane Bernik, Radoslav Putar and Ješa Denegri). Even though Jagodič’s works have always been based on formalistic artistic premises he, above all the exhibited artists (Mirko Lovrić, Željko Jerman, Enes Midžić, Petar Dabac, etc.), addressed topical socio-political issues most directly and expressed a markedly ironic and critical position towards his immediate surroundings. This position originates partly from his involvement in the field of visual satire. Jagodič regularly published his photo-collages in a number of newspapers and magazines, which as well as being an important source of his income was also a means of reaching beyond the exclusive and narrow world of (fine) art.
A key, substantive aspect of his work deals with the perception of the human mind, addresses acute economic and political issues, and questions the humanity of the humankind. He has been influenced by the aesthetic and formal properties of avant-garde movements, which have been processed, through his own artistic vision in order to actualise those once revolutionary artistic practices, once again. For this reason Jagodič’s body of work has significantly denoted the field of art photography in Slovenia and Yugoslavia. Furthermore, he was also afunding member and driving force of Grupa Junij (Group June), a loose international group of artists working across different media. However, throughout the active period of the group (1970-1985) photography, as a medium, thoroughly defined its artistic practice. At the time, a significant part of influential local photographers and theorists insisted on preserving classic formulas of documentary photography, which is probably one of the main reasons why Jagodič’s body of work has been largely overlooked in the local history of art. Together with internationally acclaimed artists he promoted, both in Slovenia and Yugoslavia, alternative possibilities of using photography which aspired to become an equal discipline of visual art.
© Miha Colner, November 2013 (edited September 2016)