Branka Benčić. Text for the exhibition Slowing Down: Liquid Territory

Structures are not the shape of things, but the underlying principles behind how things appear.[i]

Articulating a display space, its temporariness, ephemerality, its fluid, almost performative character of moving through space and the interest in the matters of uncertainty, insecurity, tensions and expectations, the state of crumbling down and anxiety, are the subjects that take place in Tina Gverović’s project Slowing Down: Liquid Territory. Tina’s images are fluid and fragile notions, and the drawing cycles evoke an impression of terminated, unfinished, temporary. They focus on the lack, deficit, void, the state of temporariness.

Tina Gverović’s works were made in different media including drawing, gouache, text, video or installation. They examine space as a place of articulated content, a system of formal elements of spatial construction taking part in forming the structure of the exhibition as a construction, and installation encompassing and structuring space and uniting different elements or work like the exhibition of the process of making, inviting an observer to connect different narratives of the fragmented whole – “an exhibition is a construction that continuously unveils”[ii] – as a series of experience oscillating between different conditions. In that sense, the displayed works are seen as a series of interrelations and cracks intertwined in their temporary environment.

“The spectator is held before an appearance in a state of ignorance about the process of production of this appearance and about the reality it conceals,” claims Jacques Ranciere in The Emancipated Spectator[iii]. Setting the works in a dialogue with the display space, Tina Gverović points to tensions between the space, the observer and the observed. Her gesture focuses on examining spatial relations and interactions between the objects and the subjects. The displayed dispositions she engages are the means of deconstructing and unmasking layered constellations – space, architecture, exhibition, works, bodies. Such self-reflection finds its point of reference in the space where a work of art acts and the manner of its ‘displaying’, with attention drawn to the space, objects and artistic procedure, representing the dimension in which an expression warns about a situation, context or its own structure. The invisible, concealed, appears as visible.

The exhibition revolves around a series of drawings and a video based on them. The drawings are set on wooden palette constructions made on location and in relation to the gallery space, forming a spatial installation, where these carefully designed props are structures as elements of the display set-up and as a kind of ‘support system’. Tina arranges her works on the ‘props’ – on a floor installation which reminds of a platform or stage, and on a series of shelves which are not only neutral plinths, but as a display system seem to become a constituent element of the piece, ‘support’, a self-reflexive gesture and a form of colonising the space, acting as an integral part to the whole, both homogenising and pointing to the lack of unity, fractures in the space and cracks. A space dealing with different conditions and pointing to instability, temporariness, fragility. Combining the concept, construction and narration results in loosely connected scenes without a strict narrative thread, of seemingly recognisable content, like fragments of a whole.

The video From Above and the floor installation both position the viewer as one who looks ‘from above’. In the video, every piece of paper frames a scene. In it the artist’s hand, shot from above, is making a tiny gesture, almost like a calligraphic brushstroke in colour on colourful papers that represent a frame devoid of spatial characteristics. The unfinished parts of the drawing made as a brushstroke seem to float on the surface, the monochromatic paper, accentuating the two-dimensionality of the image and screen space. In voiceover, the artist’s voice uses a self-reflexive meta-narrative procedure to tell a story about how the work was made. Almost abstract narrative develops with a text which seems to speak about lines, traces, dots, background, space, textures, relations, unveiling the artistic procedure.

Interrupted lines, body outlines and traces are inscribed on an empty surface that constitutes the background, become metaphors of taking different stands or views. The works encompass drawn out sequences of conditions, positions and movements, a fragile and uncertain space, the ephemeral and the transient. In them, Tina articulates the subject of time as a time-lapse, its flow, duration and passing.

The non-objective paper backdrop eliminates any traces of the objective world. The reality space we recognise is gone, it is devoid of coordinates. Line and drawing as a trace are placed in rectangular frame on an abstract territory of the image’s space / world. The loss of a ‘centre’ is a loss of focus – optical, symbolical or physical and material one. The gestural and procedural repetitiveness accentuates fragmentation. The illusion of depth that guarantees stability and integrity of the image and subject is erased. As a consequence of the representational crisis, a reorganisation of the sense of time and space is activated, pointing to the decentralised subject’s position, as well as the fragile, fragmentary character of our identities.

The subjective imagination is inscribed in spatial and temporal discontinuities, the works trying to establish relationships between dominant, usual assumptions and visible narratives. The whole is perceived as not forming a fixed narration that delineates certain content, but as participating in creating a series of interrelations and cracks, pointing to fractures and potentials as locations of potential transformation and imagination, places where a meaning is re-constituted between the known and the unknown, between the visible and the invisible.

[i] Celine Condorelli, Support Structures, Sternberg Press, 2009

[ii] Mathieu Copeland, Choreographing Exhibitions, JRP Ringier, Zurich, p 23

[iii] Jacques Ranciere, The Emancipated Spectator, Verso, 2011