ALEKSANDAR KOSTIĆ presents MIRJANA VRBAŠKI ●
March 3 – April 7, 2022
Artget Gallery | 21st year
Mirjana Vrbaški’s Odd Time photo exhibition concludes the 20th jubilee season of the Artget Gallery, in which the artistic directors of the Gallery in the previous decade re-mapped the domestic scene with one selected exhibition each. Mirjana Vrbaški is presented by Aleksandar Kostić, artistic director of the Artget Gallery in 2020.
BY MIRJANA VRBAŠKI
“Love has to be reinvented…”
Arrhythmia is a condition of the heart and soul. In this part of the world, it is an expression of fate, often manifested in the melos that summons to dance. Restlessness and passion. Irresistible and always on a dangerous edge.
What a lot of wonderful contradictions in the story of an exhibition. In the story about departure and return, about home wherever it may be, about memory, about travel and languages, about music, about women’s faces, about sight, about the sea, about coincidence, about Schmerz that smoulders and, paradoxically, fills the heart with joy, after all, about love. Because in these different but simple, large but minimal pictures, in which peace and unrest intertwine – the quite yet noisy content s love.
Mirjana Vrbaški vivisects her inner world, her memories and feelings with much tenderness and care. Reconstructing and building on impressions and insights from various parts of the world, she presents us with a well-grounded vision. And we are amazed by her strength. Curiosity and method, patience, precision of intention can be seen in every image. She has a valuable skill to combine incompatible elements into one visual opus and to patiently build it over the years. The first encounter with these images, besides curiosity and attraction, aroused a search for what lies behind. These pictures carry a secret, as do the faces of the women portrayed. Respect for the viewer gives them the opportunity to find their place in the space of the exhibition. But it can also entice them into the formality of photographic genres and conventions if they observe it one-dimensionally. They won’t find anything by searching through photographic grammar. They will get lost in the woods.
The Odd Time collection consists of two series of images. Verses of Emptiness are portraits of women, and 7/8 are landscapes. The series correspond, reflect and complement each other. They communicate each other.
Verses or the poetics of emptiness are a paraphrase of the thought (J. Berger) that similarity (between the image and the model) is what remains when the model physically disappears, when they are no longer present. Without emptiness, without absence, there would be no motive for photography, for immortalizing; there would be no poetry.
The portraits are reduced and touching in their sincerity. There is no visual infamy and calculated beautification, characteristic of the epoch. Here, the sophisticated approach of the photographer is expressed not only through photographic skills, but also through the psychological play between the artist and the model. By placing the camera in front of the protagonists, she strives to both reach the humanity of the other and addresses that humanity (just like in the landscapes). On the one hand, the characters become universal, iconic images. On the other hand, they preserve their identity, not ashamed of their vulnerability.
In their iconicity, the portrayed women move away from their psychology and personality. Presented in a group, aesthetically and emotionally consistent, they begin to speak a language different from that of the classic photographic portrait and irresistibly reminiscent of Fayum portraits. There is a similarity in the concept, too, for both are in the service of the transcendental, as if they serve another reality, as if they were assigned a specific role. Mirjana Vrbaški mentions the memory of Orthodox icons from her childhood and their influence can be felt both on the formal and ontological level.
7/8 is the time measure, the irregular rhythm (odd time, odd meter, odd signature) of the melos of this part of the world that summons to dance; arrhythmia of the heart and soul. The landscapes are stripped of any expected aesthetic and find their beauty in the clutter of unadulterated nature. Their content is emblematic enough to give us determinants in space and memory. The artistic properties of overexposure lead us to consider that what we see may belong rather to the imaginary than to the real. The Mediterranean refers to the place of origin of civilization, Dalmatia is a generational reference and a nostalgic note, which refers to memories and summers that belonged to not so distant past and to a country that has disappeared. Unlike in the portraits, here, through “visual indifference” detached from familiar visual vocabulary, the process of capturing an image suggests randomness and coincidence.
Mirjana Vrbaški’s gaze is a curious gaze of cognition and love for what is observed, for who and what she points the lens of her camera at, even when the creation of pictures is prompted by a deeply personal urge.
And if in that gaze one can assume the heat of a summer day on a Mediterranean landscape, mysterious in itself, then all that remains is to indulge in imaginary, inseparable chirping of the crickets.
Mirjana Vrbaški (b.1978 in Montreal) is a Serbian/Canadian lens-based artist. After obtaining a BA in Literature in Canada, Vrbaški turned to photography, graduating from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (2010). She has participated in numerous international exhibitions and is represented in international private and public collections.
Her ongoing series Verses of Emptiness has been nominated for, among other, the Renaissance Photography Prize (UK), the Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize (UK) and LensCulture Portrait Prize (NL).
Vrbaški’s practice is rooted in the photographic image as a palpable site for contemplation of complexity. Generally working with large formats and repeating motifs, she pushes past the narrative, seeking to foster a deeper engagement with the photographic image. In such a process, depicting becomes carving, burrowing, until the image is “hollow enough to echo”.
Aleksandar Kostić is a photographer and cameraman, full professor and head of the Camera Department of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. He graduated from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, Camera Department.
His artistic work encompasses various forms of photographic and cinematic expression. As an author, he has been awarded in the country and abroad. He was art director of the Artget Gallery in 2020.