ABOUT With her latest projects Urša Vidic is stepping into the world of nature with ever greater decisiveness. In her work she is interested in depicting nature’s non-depictability, recreating its mysterious beauty, utopically searching for an unreachable point that would reveal and explain our spiritual essence as well as that of the world surrounding us. She sees nature as a mirror through which one can flirt with the human essence. In her carefully created micro environments objectivity is replaced with neo-romantic intuition and imagination that create a meaningful play of illusions, and through the simulation of nature and atmospheric effects show the artist’s fascination with nature and her desire to capture and mediate those extra transcendental experiences that nature enables.
The artist’s objects are purposefully constructed display cabinets with complicated and well thought out technological equipment which enables the creation of atmospheric effects in closed micro environments, in which nature is manifested through the presence of the emblematic object. In her somewhat older display cabinets she hid small, but very naturalistic fragments of the arctic landscape, but this time she chose a tree as her central element. The tree is surrounded by a mysterious mist, which appears and disappears from and into the tree’s canopy. A minimised tree, trapped in a glass display cabinet, thus becomes visible and manageable, while remaining unreachable, “separated from the world.” The tree assumes the position of the symbolic essence of nature; it becomes the central signifier of the invisible landscape, changed into a technological habitat accompanied by sound which emphasizes its poetic value.
The artist’s new romantic “turn towards nature” mainly focuses on the research of nature’s visual space and the possibilities of its representation, and the analysis of the spiritual concepts that nature evokes. In her work Urša Vidic flirts with the romantic tradition, which was the first art period in the modern times to raise nature to the subjectivist expression (of the artist’s) spiritual world, to a place that enables the experience of the sublime. The artist has developed a minimalistic and contemporary visual vocabulary, which enables the construction of a specific context, in which nature is presented through simulacra, as an obviously created museum exhibit that is hidden behind the glass and thus distanced from the viewer. The nature that the artist presents is thus deliberately and obviously fabricated and turned into a museum piece, while its phantasmal presence demands the operation of a demanding technological apparatus. It seems that the artist uses this to point towards the ambivalent relation between man and nature: people have been appropriating and using nature from the beginning of time, we persistently classify and analyse it, so that we could subdue it even further, while on the other hand we unconditionally admire it and use it and its unfathomable essence to constantly search for the path to ourselves. Thus it seems that the tree in the display cabinet appears as a reminder of the human incompetence, so that we could protect nature – and with this also ourselves - from ourselves. text: Matjaž Brulc
Installation VŽIGALICA GALLERY MGML ( The Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana) / May 2016
ABOUT The project Glassworks #1 is an artistic object, a showcase that embodies the idea of a sublime nature outside our cognitive limitations and of the wish to embrace it. Thus the work functions as an oxymoron, the nonsense of depicting the undepictable. The attempt to embrace and encompass the world, the nature in all its greatness and beauty, represents the paradox of the impossible. The artist with her romantic gesture thus attempts the alchemistic and philosophical search for the universal elixir. Chemical flasks, through which mists and air flow, allude to the utopian process of the search for the 'primal matter', the enigmatic substance that is said to be hiding in all of us as a dark spirit, a pure core hidden behind chaos and raw matter.
Installation Tobacco 001 Cultural Center MGML (The Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana), Ljubljana / 2014
CREDTITS curator: Alenka Trebušak sound: Luka Uršič / KALU photo: Uroš Abram photo of installation: Nada Žgank text: Alenka Trebušak
ABOUT: The art project Uncharted is an ambient installation combining sculpture, drawing, and sound. The viewer enters it as if entering a story about the Earth’s southernmost continent, marked by ice fields, prehistoric icebergs, and the sea covered in ice. With regard to its content, the installation reflects the artist’s loyalty to the motif of a landscape, while symbolically it addresses the question of the concept time and space.
Although nowadays Antartica is considered to be one of the most inhospitable continents, in its recent past it cast an almost magical spell over humankind with its remoteness. The fascination with the earth’s poles,1 which today is comparable to the fascination with space exploration, developed from the fundamental curiosity of man and his desire to discover the unknown. In the modern, information age, burdened by the constant search for data, inaccessibility is utterly unacceptable, therefore we tend to ceaselessly check on the availability of information and to visualize the unimaginable.
The history of polar representation can be accessed through a myriad of intertextual traces, myths, and stories – extending from classical mythology to the drawings and diaries of explorers and their followers, from the first photographs to documentary films and modern intermedia depictions. As opposed to other continents, Antartica began its path as a virtual reality as its existence had been envisaged even before it was discovered. Already in ancient Greece, it was believed that the Earth must have an extensive continent at the South Pole which would balance out the mass of the then known continents in the northern hemisphere. As a real and metaphorical landscape, Antartica served as a proving ground for all who wished to test their strength in a uniquely beautiful but dangerous environment. The foreign nature of the South Pole landscape has always presented a specific challenge also to artists. First documented by members of various navies, the ice continent has been immortalized by painters already since the second half of the 18th century. Within the framework of European colonial policy, the tradition formed of including artists in exploration for the purpose of documenting unknown territories for reason ofstrategy as well as propaganda, namely to provide funds for future expeditions.3 The history of artistic practice shows that the development of such depiction went from the direction of existential fear and uneasiness towards firmer scientific shadings and technologically supported curiosity. Only by the last quarter of the previous century had artists accumulated enough information and documentary materials to be excused from strategically important work and able to focus on “exploiting” Antarctica in the modern aesthetic and broader cultural sense. And if aesthetics is the philosophical discipline that deals with the study of beauty in general, and if the experience of it often involves the interpretation of a particular entity as being in balance and harmony with nature, then the polar region is an exceptional locus for exploration of diverse interpretations of how humans feel in nature.
Antarctica also inspired Urša Vidic’s artistic project entitled Uncharted. It is an ambient installation that combines sculpture, drawing, photography, and sound. It touches upon the issues of mapping the cultural space from colonialism to the post-industrial era of globalization and testifies to the ice continent remaining an attractive proving ground for exploration due to its uninhibitedness and unmarked “voids”. The viewer enters the installation as if in a story about Earth’s southernmost continent, marked by fields of ice, prehistoric icebergs, and the ice-covered sea. At the substantive level, this reflects the artist’s commitment to the motif of the landscape, while in a symbolic sense it raises issues connected to the notions of time and space.
While Urša Vidic’s previous project, Crystal Sea (Kazemate, 2014), did not feature the medium of painting, which is otherwise the primary expression in her artistic practice, in the current exhibition she has once again returned to drawing. Drawing as the most basic, simple, and direct form for translating artistic considerations into a visual image is used by her in such a manner that it is much more at home in the field of geography: in the form of a topographic map, an altitudinal cross-section, and an outline of the landscape is a source of information on a particular part of the Earth's surface and as such it proves to be inherently objective. The plans are verified by the mountainous landscape carved out of ice that is placed in a special glass box. Created with mathematical precision on the basis of models, it makes the viewer feel the image of the actual landscape as if without the intervention of the artist. Thus, we see a sculpture whose form easily overlaps with our image of a landscape caught in ice. Furthermore, the audio background that takes on the role of a constitutive element of the story also leads us to believe that we have found ourselves in some wonderful, faraway world that otherwise only adventurers and explorers wander into. In a place far from mechanized calculations and the human concept of time burdened with tick-tacking.
With its audio-visual image, the project Uncharted testifies to the artist's unique artistic poetics. It offers more than just a space for meditation, which it creates by arousing the viewer's unconscious knowledge and memories. By playing with extremely subjective material – the drawings and the sculpture present a mental landscape, the landscape of the artist's mind, and thus a completely utopian construct – it actually creates a metaphor. The empty landscape that will never be put on any earthly map hints at the lonely contemporary person, while the impression of eternity and the never-changing nature of things is mere deception. The existence of the miniature model is possible only under precisely determined conditions. If such were not fulfilled, the model would melt and disappear. By means of a premeditated duplication of “virtual” reality in Uncharted Urša Vidic forms her individual memento mori of the 21st Century, which calls our attention to the fact that nothing is forever.
Installation Kazemate Gallery - Ljubljana castle / 2014
CREDITS curator: Michele Drascek text: Michele Drascek sound: Luka Uršič / KALU photography of installation: Nada Žgank
ABOUT In the past few years, Urša Vidic research has been focused on a particular concept of Romanticism: the sublime. The theme returns powerfully in the new work Crystal Sea. She refers explicitly to C.D. Friedrich, artist of the first German Romanticism. In his paintings Friedrich gives expression of high sublime melancholy accompanied by a sense of solitude. The existential anguish of a man confronting nature becomes arcane and symbolic.
With this reference in mind, she moves towards her personal feeling of attraction toward nature, in particular towards the ice landscapes of Antarctica.
The attraction doesn’t exclude a feeling of separation, incommunicability and isolation. It is the consequence of a single human being confronted by the overwhelming power of an inhospitable nature. But it is contemplation that creates an overturn in Crystal Sea. Hugh of St. Victor writes that contemplation requires the use of intelligence and it is not confined specifically to mystical experience but can arise when attending to the sensible world.
But, like the viewer of C.D. Friedrich paintings in XIX Century, Urša Vidic observes the terrible beauty of ice landscapes from a safe point of view: from images and in literature, not in the field. So, with hard technological fabrication, mutations of lights and sounds, she creates objects that evoke a surge of white icebergs and landscapes. With a strong spatial reversal: it is the viewer, here, who overhangs the landscape. In fact, the landscape is a miniature sheltered in a show-case, protected as ephemeral Microsystem to be contemplated. This Microsystem lives till the technology that sustains it is running energy. To switch off the engines means to let the Microsystem melt.
As human beings, we often feel a sense of isolation and drama. This feeling is greatly intensified in a harsh, uninhabitable nature, where we are strongly confronted with all of our inner turmoil, but there is a connection to the sense of isolation in a more civilized environment. Social rules can wrap us in a bubble of comfort, but can just as easy alienate individuals, pushing them deep into their own reflexion. The artist takes in this feeling and transforms it into visual beauty by recreating an ice structure, providing us with the aesthetic metaphysic of light and splendour of white.
By realizing a certain idea of form and sound, the Crystal Sea becomes a vision for the viewer.
installation / performance Lighting Guerilla Festival - Škuc Gallery Ljubljana / 2013
CREDTITS authors: Meta Grgurevič & Urša Vidic choreography and dance: Nina Fajdiga in Leja Jurišić music: Tine Grgurevič, KALU, Jaša costume design: Nika Ravnik / niOka text: Žiga Dobnikar photography of installation: DK
ABOUT: Meta Grgurevič and Urša Vidic’s Galanterie Mécanique is a symphony of kinetic objects, videos, performances, and music that the two artists combine into a unified spatial whole, driven by reflections about the man-machine relationship, collaboration and cooperation between individuals, and the position of the individual in wider social relationships. The motor of this spatial presentation involved the coexistence of all elements, both necessary and seemingly unnecessary. Precisely the latter, revealed in the title, took on the role of tiny links in the chain that entered a dialog about the apparent routine and functionality of mechanical elements, thus imbuing them with a lyricism and organic note, while at the same time assimilating a part of the mechanical essence themselves. The emerging amalgam became a working system that functioned alone to some extent, though its perfect realization needed the combination of all components, both organic and mechanical.
Installation KiBela / KIBLA Maribor / 2012
CREDITS curator: Žiga Dobnika authors: Urša Vidic & Luka Uršič (KALU) photography of installation: Nada Žgank
ABOUT: The authors connect their individual expressions into an installation, which in its essence explores the manipulation of perception through a re-contextualization of everyday images and sounds, as well as references to past periods of art. It is, however, not a pure appropriation in the Warholean sense, but a formation of a comprehensive ambient installation that tries, above all else, to embrace the viewer and his auditory-visual apparatus. The videos are projected in imaginative ways, often included in furniture pieces, creating an atmosphere of a specific, nearly homelike intimacy. Once the authors separate the familiar scenes from their natural, obvious context, they begin to create a content and formal tension on the micro-level of the videos, which is further highlighted on the macro-level of the complete setting by the juxtaposition of the intimacy and the sublime or distinctively urban connotations. The sound component, just like the visual, is based on everyday imagery. The sound serves as a means of video de-contextualization, and at the same time it underwent a similar process of de-contextualisation: the audio records of banal actions become rhythmicized, occasionally even close to melodic, and the natural source of sound is always more or less obscure. The interaction of a universal sound set and individual sound recordings belonging to each of the videos creates a dynamic sonic landscape, which changes according to the position inside the room, and at the same time assumes the role of the narrative element of the subtly present story of the whole. text: Žiga Dobnikar