Phantom Trades: Sea of People, Tina Gverovic
Sea of people Publication
Tina Gverović – Sea of People
Tina Gverović – Diamond Cuts: Sea of People

Sea of People
2016
Installation View
Museum of Modern Art, Dubrovnik
Curated by Rozana Vojvoda
Photo: Marko Ercegović

Exhibition including:
Raft, installation including wooden raft and 8 paintings on canvas (Series of paintings At First Sight I –III, 2006, acrylic on canvas, 90 x 124 cm / Series of paintings Second Sight, North Atlantic, Polaris, 2007, acrylic on canvas, 90 x 110 cm / Series of paintings Choose Your Time I-III, 2007 acrylic on canvas
80 x 120 cm)
Without Delay, installation including OH projection of the text
On the Waves, Testing the Waves I, Testing the Waves II, video, HD loop (Coastal Flume Tank, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, University College London)
Wave, audio loop (Mechanical Engineering Wave Tank, recording by Kate Oliver, University College London)
Limbo, installation with 150 risograph prints (each 40.5 x 30cm)
Inventory, installation with indigo dyed clothing and fabric
Swimmers, installation including 6 paintings (acrylic and oil on canvas, 20 x 25cm) and coloured wall
Without Delay, text on the wall

Sea of People: Found and Told Stories – text on the wall

Visit
A friend came to see me in a dream. From far away. And I asked in the dream: ’Did you come by photograph or train?’

In half
They were let into the mountains just across the frontier and left there. Totally disorientated, some found their way back. They devised a system to protect themselves. Before leaving they had their photographs taken. They tore the photograph in half, giving half to their guide and keeping the other half themselves.

Images
The courage of departure, the endurance of the journey, the shock of arrival, the deaths far away, the black foreign nights, the proud obstination of survival.
Images are sometimes in colour, and sometimes purely verbal; the instantly recognizable moments refer to different experiences.

Champs-Elysees Economy
Amidst the tents and portable shelters housing 160 000 a busy little commercial district has sprung up with shops and people offering all manner of services.
The military, who helped out here in the early days, dubbed the main street Champs-Elysees and today you can buy anything here from a washing machine to a bridal dress.

Fire and the Sea
I was on a deck of the air-craft carrier that collected us earlier that day. I recall watching the burning remains scattered on the sea surface, hanging over the fence in my T-shirt. One of the arsonist leaders, a former army man, dropped by to tell me not to worry, I was completely safe. I had never imagined that I was in danger.

Girl is the Ocean
Somewhere, out on the Ocean swell, a dot in the ocean off the shores of storm-lashed land, there is a fishing boat. And on it, is a man who doesn’t yet know he’s a father.
His family got word that his boat and all souls on it are safe, hundreds of kilometres away. But that’s all they know, they didn’t manage to pass on word that they are safe too, and that his wife gave birth on a classroom floor as a Cyclone raged all around. Finally, he doesn’t know that his first-born child’s name has already been chosen. She’s Ocean, of course. Her mother says the 12-hour labour, assisted only by other mothers, was “easy”.
I ask her what she wants for her child, in the future. She thinks for a long time, so long that I think she’s forgotten I am there. Finally she says, “I want her to work on the sea, because sea helped us through the storm.”

Will the Last One to Leave Please Turn Out the Lights
I live with someone whose country no longer exists. The culture my wife was brought up in as a child, the festivals, the education, the products, like the country itself, exist only in books, films and memories. But the land, the land is still there. The people still tell their stories, sing their songs, grow their crops, raise their families.
In my own migrant nation, entire villages from the 19th century, ravaged by famine, lie decomposing. Once-thriving islands have lost centuries-old communities to modernity. Only the birds and the seals remain.
Countries disappear, are renamed, and borders are redrawn. And other countries are dying. The sea is encroaching on them, ever higher tides making the soil unfit to grow plants or raise animals. The coast, where fishermen need to live, is crumbling into the sea. Houses calve off the cliffs like the melting glaciers that feed that change. Storms swell rivers, washing away the soil, creating new floodplains, or simply covering precious land where houses once stood.
Those who can, pick up their corrugated iron sheets and their planks and move on to the next raggedy edge where they start again, without jobs, without health care, without schools, without any thought other than a brighter day for their children.
But could this ever happen to a whole country? Will a whole nation ever pack up and leave? If they do, there are a million questions to be answered, micro and macro, apart from the whimsical “Will the last one to leave please turn out the lights?” Can a citizen exist if its country is no longer on the map? What identifies a country; land, people or culture?

I am thinking about the coast of the Mediterranean sea in the current context, as a place which is a significant topographic area in the imaginary of the West from the romantic European landscape (renaissance, baroque, later 19 century- restorative health destinations or adventure) to a place of collective holiday destination later in the 20th century. The Mediterranean is a place through which people passed, to which they came to and came from (migrations to South, North America, Australia etc). Today The Mediterranean is a site of political conflict, where the concept of freedom and European unity meets the concept of otherness – of the waves of migrants from Asia and Africa. Migration routes partly use The Mediterranean as the most convenient route to take them to the European continent and to the illusion of safety and stability.¹

The work focuses on the idea of the coast as a place of arrival and departure. A place where explorers, seamen, travelers and recently tourists travel to, both in terms of travels in the imagination and physical travel, in each case meeting with fantasy and actuality. In the contemporary climate of enforced travel, the seeking of political asylum and simply livelihood, and escape from violence and oppression, the place from which you set off might well be idealized, as might be the place in your dreams of the far-away places that you’re travelling to, determined of course by imaginings of a better tomorrow. The place where belongings are washed ashore, where animate and inanimate cargo attempts to meet with the land. I am thinking about different types of movements here – water, migrations, materials.

Waves travel in groups called wave trains – each triggered by the forward movement of the sea’s water due to the oscillation of water particles by the frictional drag of wind over the water’s surface. The movement of the wave happens simultaneously in different directions, horizontally, back and forth on the surface and vertically, upwards-downwards. Once triggered waves are set in an unstoppable motion oscillating like a materialized echo over space and time.
In thinking about waves, how they are triggered, how they relate to each other, and about the force that accompanies them, I am encouraged to think of the unstoppable affects they have on both life and matter. It also makes me think about the impact of sheer force, and the knock-in effects of that force which ultimately reach unimaginable scales. But besides water and waves and how they resonate I am also thinking about other similar but different processes, ones which are also triggered through an encounter with another body or thing (a human can be a ‘body’, but a mass of water can also be referred to as ‘a body’ of water), such as assimilation or mimicry, i.e. trying to behave like someone or something else.

I am thinking about the encounter with the work and how to prolong it – both in time and space – taking processes such as adaptation, mimicry, and resonance as triggers and as connecting threads through all the rooms.

The series of paintings shown here are extracted from previous installations depicting far-away places, places yet to be discovered. The paintings are on a large scale raft, positioned upright, propped up with makeshift sticks. I wanted to include older work so that the work has a connection to its own past and has a sense of its own history. Two adjacent rooms host OH projections of text on the wall. The font of the text is broken, disjointed, wavy and diffused. The text is comprised of a collection of stories, fact and/or fiction, related to migration, the movement of people between places, and the movement of the sea. The installations in the rooms on third floor present transitional scenes – scenes which are caught between the desire to explore the possibilities of media and form, and the complexities of content. There is a sound of a wave at the point when it meets the shore, although its an artificial sound – the sound is of a large scale wave-testing tank housed in a scientific research laboratory where impact and the strength of the waves are measured.

The fourth floor takes one tone, one colour, as a thread that seeps through all three rooms- it’s a connecting element that ties them, unifies them. In the first of the three rooms there is a composition which includes prints of a figure that is walking. The prints are presented in a continuous line which encircles the room. The walking ‘sequence’ of 5 steps was first painted then printed and here it is presented as a loop, as a series of still frames in space.
In the next room are items of clothing and fabric gathered in various sculptural formations on the floor. All the items are dyed blue. I see this room as an extended painting, one that leaked, was taken somewhere else by the currents, here collected – constitutes a new beginning. I suppose there is a lot of possible directions here – possible currents to follow. Works adopt properties from one another, colours mimic sounds and sounds mimic rhythm of animation or the recording of the wave.

1. Excerpt from the proposal entitled Welcome (Croqui) Sketch realized within the frame of EPK project.

Tina Gverović

Phantom Trades: Sea of People, Tina Gverovic
Sea of people Publication
Tina Gverović – Sea of People
Tina Gverović – Diamond Cuts: Sea of People

Welcome Sketch
Workshop on the rocks near the sea in Dubrovnik.
11 – 16. 1. 2016

With:  Anđela Bušurelo, Silvia Čeperković, Mara Piskulić, Mihaela Zlojić, Helena Radoš, Bruno Di Reda, Karmen Kovačić Karamatić, Haron Mehić, Ivana Dražić Selmani, Tina Gverović, Siniša Ilić.
In collaboration with Luko Sorkočević High School in Dubrovnik.

The workshop focuses on the idea of the coast as a place of arrival and departure. A place where explorers, seamen, travellers and recently tourists travel to, both in terms of travels in the imagination and physical travel, in each case meeting with fantasy and actuality. In the contemporary climate of enforced travel, the seeking of political asylum and simply livelihood, and escape from violence and oppression, the place from which you set off might well be idealised, as might be the place in your dreams of the far-away places that you’re travelling to, determined of course by imaginings of a better tomorrow. The place where belongings are washed ashore, where animate and inanimate cargo attempts to meet with the land. We were thinking about different types of movements here – water, migrations, materials.