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Tanja Verlak,


Tanja Verlak Polno~ v Mumbaju/Midnight in Mumbai 26. 10. - 16. 11. 2012


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Victor Burgin se je na za~etku svojega eseja o Barthesovi zadnji knjigi La Chambre Claire lotil ponovnega branja (Re-reading Camera Lucida, prvi~ objavljeno v reviji Creative Camera št. 215, november 1982, ve~ kasnejših ponatisov v antologijah in zbornikih) te danes že naravnost miti~ne razprave o teoriji fotografije z izpostavitvijo fonološke istovetnosti angleških izrazov za »jaz« in »oko« (v izvirniku I/ eye ). V tej homonimi~ni besedni dvojici se pravzaprav razkriva globoka pojmovno-smiselna povezanost med subjektom, ki gleda nekaj, kar je pred njim videl nek drug subjekt – v mislim imamo seveda podobo, ki jo je gledalo in potem s pomo~jo izbrane tehnologije fiksiralo fotografovo oko, zdaj pa vanjo zre in jo skuša doumeti oko gledalca. Kar oko zazna, um (torej »jaz«) prepozna(va). Semiologija je v svoji zgodnji fazi, izhajajo~ iz spoznanj strukturalne lingvistike, uvrstila fotografijo med sisteme pomenjenja, organizirane kot govorica, s tem pa berljivost vsake posamezne fotografije zastavila v perspektivi upoštevanja razli~nih kôdov branja. Ta pristop se je na za~etku sedemdesetih let radikalno spremenil, lingvisti~ni model je nadomestilo ve~ kompleksnih metodologij, med katerimi sta posebej izstopali freudovska in lacanovska psihoanaliza. Vsaka entiteta, ki je predmet analize, je zaklju~ena celota, njeni potencialni pomeni so vsebovani izklju~no v njej sami, neodvisno od podobnih entitet, ki bi jih lahko povezali v ciklus ali serijo. Fotografije Tanje Verlak že v svoji zasnovi temeljijo na na~elu singularnosti, neumestljivosti v primerjalne kontekste, ki bi gledalca navajali k prepoznavanju krajev ali okolij, v katerih so bile posnete, ali v tematske sklope z evidentno narativno konfiguracijo, kjer se motivi nizajo kot stavki v zgodbi, ki se nenadoma za~ne in nadaljuje v ve~krat presenetljivih smereh. Verlakova pa, nasprotno, vsako fotografsko izjavo artikulira kot samostojno misel, ki v vsebinskem smislu nima ni~ skupnega z naslednjo ali s predhodno podobo, ampak je obrnjena navznoter, k lastni biti, determinirani s formalno in strukturno koherenco, ki osmišlja njen obstoj. Zgodba (celo ve~ zgodb) se konstituira znotraj posamezne fotografije, ki je po svoji naravi polisemi~na, ne samo na ravni »jaza« (avtori~ine izjave), temve~ tudi na ravni »o~esa« (gledal~eve investicije v podobo, ki jo gleda). Iz videnega je mo~ razbrati dolo~ena na~ela, na katerih je podoba zgrajena, pravzaprav dihotomije v širokem razponu od klasi~nega chiaroscura do preizpraševanj obzorij možnega, ki vedno znova postavljajo pod vprašaj razmerja med realnostjo in njeno iluzionisti~no reprezentacijo. Avtorici je forma vsekakor pomembna, ni pa sama sebi namen, kot mnogokrat lahko vidimo pri marsikaterem fotografu, ki ho~e izbrani motiv ali motivni niz »poplemenititi« s kompozicijskim perfekcionizmom in vztrajanjem pri strukturni skladnosti, ne da bi temeljiteje premislil, kako to lahko zamegli sporo~ilni u~inek

podobe. Formalna dognanost, ki kaj hitro zdrsne v pretirano estetiziranje, namre~ pogosto prekrije smisel, ker obstane na ravni denotacije – primarnega prepoznavanja motiva, ki je »lepo« aranžiran. Z vidika »fotografskega paradoksa« (po Barthesu) to seveda ni dovolj, ker vsak posnetek implicira tudi konotacijo, pomen izza videnega. Tanja Verlak konotacijski moment prestavlja v polje metagovorice, v raziskovanje konstitutivnih elementov fotografije kot specifi~ne diskurzivne prakse, ki ima lasten besednjak, gramatiko in sintakso. Generiranje pomena je s teh izhodiš~ prepuš~eno gledalcu kot aktivnemu udeležencu procesa, ki ga za~ne »jaz« z namenom, da aktivira »oko«. Psihoanaliza nam je razkrila, da mentalni procesi, ki se jih zavedamo, niso edini procesi produciranja pomenov, za katere vemo – kot pravi Burgin, »odsotnost« pomena lahko pomeni samo to, da je »pomen zapustil sobo in se skriva v kleti«. V realnem paradoksa ni, je pa zato v na~inu, kako je realno opisano. Pri Barthesovi definiciji paradoksa fotografije se soo~ata dva protislovna diskurza, semioti~ni in fenomenološki. Kar zaznamo in prepoznamo iz splošne izkušnje s svetom pojavnosti (lahko tudi primerjalno, s fotografijami, ki smo jih že neko~ nekje videli, ~eprav niso stovetne s fotografijo, ki jo trenutno gledamo), pri razli~nih gledalcih sproža razli~ne reakcije: ~e je nekdo do dolo~ene sestavine podobe ali celo do podobe kot celote indiferenten, bo morda kdo drug do istega fenomena zavzel mo~no osebno ~ustveno stališ~e, ki je neprenosljivo, ker je skrajno individualizirano. Intimna izkušnja, ki jo vsebuje doživetje skozi pogled, tako zasuka razmerje med »jazom« in »o~esom« - fotografov »jaz«, ki je ustvaril konkretno fotografijo, nenadoma postane gledal~ev »jaz«, ki podobo percipira skrajno subjektivno, neodvisno od avtorjeve intence in ob~ih konotativnih kategorij. eprav marsikatera fotografija ~ustveno presune mnoge ljudi, je treba razlikovati med to izkušnjo in individualnim dojemanjem tega, kar je na fotografiji. Prav ta dvojna igra pomenov je v opusu Tanje Verlak posebej izpostavljena, zdi se, da avtorica pri njej vztraja zato, da bi ~im bolj ekplicitno opredelila ontološko bistvo medija. Dihotomijski zastavki, na katerih gradi svoj ustvarjalni credo, se v kon~ni posledici zreducirajo na nasprotje med vidnim in nevidnim, med svetlobo in temo, med védenjem in ob~utjem. Možnosti artikulacije tega nasprotja so seveda neštete, treba je le prepoznati tisto majceno cezuro, ki lo~i retori~no banalnost od zanesljive avtorske sugestivnosti. Verlakova ta rez suvereno preseže in se postavi tja, kjer mora biti ustvarjalni »jaz«, da bi ga »oko«, kateremu se kaže, neobremenjeno sprejelo. Brane Kovi~


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Iz serije Polno~ v Mumbaju, 2012, srebro-bromidna fotografija, 83 cm x 83 cm From the series Midnight in Mumbai, 2012, silver gelatin print, 83 cm x 83 cm


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In his essay on Camera Lucida—Barthes’ last book—Victor Burgin (Re-reading Camera Lucida, first published in Creative Camera No 215 in November 1982 and since then reprinted in several anthologies and analects) has undertaken a review of Barthes’ writing, which by now has turned into a seminal treatise on the theory of photography based on the phonetic identity of the English words I and ‘eye’. The homophony of these two words reveals a deep conceptual connection between the subject looking at something that was previously seen by another subject, i.e. an image first observed by the photographer’s eye and consequently fixed by the selected piece of technology, and now being seen and interpreted by the viewer’s eye. What the eye senses, the mind (i.e. I ) recognises. In its initial phases, semiotics—based on the findings of structural linguistics—has classified photography as a signifying system, organised as language, and thus the readability of individual photographs was set on the backdrop of a range of different reading codes. In the early Seventies, this type of approach changed considerably, as the linguistic model was replaced by several complex methods, most notably by Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis. Every single entity being analysed is an autonomous whole, whose potential meanings are exclusively contained in it, independently of other similar entities that may be connected into a cycle or a series. Tanja Verlak’s photographs are—from their very conception—relying on the principle of singularity, their implicit reluctance to be classified in comparable contexts that could enable the viewer to recognise places and locations of shooting, or in thematic surroundings having a self-evident narrative of motives proceeding as sentences in a story, which starts abruptly and often continues in surprising directions. On the contrary, Verlak articulates each photographic declaration as an isolated thought that has nothing in common with the following or the preceding image, but is rather self-contained, pointing to its own being, determined by a formal and structural coherence giving a sense to its existence. One or several stories arise within each photograph, which is polysemic by nature, not only at the level of I (the artist’s statement), but also at the level of the ‘eye’ (the viewer’s commitment to the image viewed). There are certain principles that may be derived from the images viewed, a kind of wide dichotomy ranging from the classical chiaroscuro to the re-examination of an array of possibilities, which constantly question the relation between reality and its illusionistic representation. Although recognised by the artist as important, form is not an end to itself, as is the case of many photographers, who want to ‘polish’ the selected motif or series with perfectionist composition and with their insistence on structural harmony, without considering how such an endeavour may inhibit the expressive force of an image.

Formal perfection, which may quite rapidly slip into excessive aestheticising, often tends to hide the meaning, since it halts at the level of denotation, i.e. the primary recognition of a ‘nicely’ arranged motif. From the viewpoint of the ‘photographic paradox’ (according to Barthes) this is definitely not enough, as each shot implies a connotation, a meaning beyond the visible. Tanja Verlak transposes connotation into a meta-language, into the exploration of the constitutive elements of photography, conceived as discourse in action with its own vocabulary, grammar and syntax. In this sense, it is the viewer—the active participant of a process initiated by I with the aim of activating the ‘eye’—the one entrusted with the production of meaning. Psychoanalysis has shown us that conscious mental processes are not the only known processes producing meaning, because in Burgin’s words ‘absence’ of meaning may only mean that “meaning has left the room and is now hiding in the basement”. There is no paradox in reality itself, but in the way, in which the actual is described. Barthes’ definition of the photographic paradox implies two opposed discourses: a semiotic and a phenomenological one. Everything we sense and recognise on the basis of our general experience of the phenomenological world (or—by analogy—with the photographs we have seen somewhere before, although not identical to the photograph viewed now) generates different reactions in different viewers: While one person may be indifferent to an element of an image or to the image as a whole, someone else may have strong personal feelings, which are so individualised that they may become unbearable. An intimate experience evoked by the act of observation may thus shift the relation between the I and the ‘eye’: the photographer’s I, which created the given photograph, suddenly becomes the viewer’s I, which perceives the image in an extremely subjective way, regardless of the artist’s intentions and general connotative categories. Although many a photograph may have an emotional impact on many people, we still need to distinguish between this experience and the individual perception of what is displayed by the photograph. This double interaction of meanings is so strongly emphasised in Tanja Verlak’s works that it almost seems the artist is reiterating it in order to very explicitly define the ontological essence of the medium. The interplay of dichotomies—upon which she has based her creative tenet—could be finally reduced to the antinomy between the seen and the unseen, darkness and light, knowledge and feeling. Although this contraposition, of course, could be articulated indefinitely, we need to recognise the thin dividing line between rhetorical banality and reliable artistic persuasion. Verlak convincingly overcomes this gap and takes up a position, where the creative I is supposed to stand if the observing ‘eye’ is to willingly accept it. Brane Kovi~


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Iz serije Polno~ v Mumbaju, 2012, srebro-bromidna fotografija, 83 cm x 103 cm From the series Midnight in Mumbai, 2012, silver gelatin print, 83 cm x 103 cm


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Iz serije Polno~ v Mumbaju, 2012, srebro-bromidna fotografija, 83 cm x 83 cm From the series Midnight in Mumbai, 2012, silver gelatin print, 83 cm x 83 cm


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Iz serije Polno~ v Mumbaju, 2012, srebro-bromidna fotografija, 83 cm x 83 cm From the series Midnight in Mumbai, 2012, silver gelatin print, 83 cm x 83 cm


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Iz serije Polno~ v Mumbaju, 2012, srebro-bromidna fotografija, 34 cm x 52 cm From the series Midnight in Mumbai, 2012, silver gelatin print, 34 cm x 52 cm


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Iz serije Polno~ v Mumbaju, 2012, srebro-bromidna fotografija, 34 cm x 52 cm From the series Midnight in Mumbai, 2012, silver gelatin print, 34 cm x 52 cm


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Iz serije Polno~ v Mumbaju, 2012, srebro-bromidna fotografija, 34 cm x 52 cm From the series Midnight in Mumbai, 2012, silver gelatin print, 34 cm x 52 cm


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Iz serije Polno~ v Mumbaju, 2012, srebro-bromidna fotografija, 34 cm x 52 cm From the series Midnight in Mumbai, 2012, silver gelatin print, 34 cm x 52 cm


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Izbor samostojnih razstav 2012 Mestna galerija Nova Gorica, Nova Gorica Last Ship, Mumbai, Indija 2011 Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana 2009 Galerija TLR, New Delhi, Indija 2009 Atelier de Visu, Marseille, Francija 2008 Gallery of Contemporary Art, Pan~evo, Srbija 2007 Galerija Stolp, Maribor 2005 Velryba, Praga, ^eška Izbor skupinskih razstav tanja.verlak@network.rca.ac.uk Tanja Verlak (1979) je leta 2003 diplomirala na praški FAMU (Akademiji lepih umetnosti, Fakulteti za film in televizijo), kjer je 2006 tudi magistrirala. Podiplomski študij teorije umetnosti je zaklju~ila leta 2009 na Jawaharlal Nehru University, School of Arts and Aesthetics v New Delhiju. Trenutno je doktorska študentka fotografije na Royal College of Art v Londonu, kjer raziskuje reprezentacijo kulturno pogojenega šoka v fotografiji. Je tudi docentka za predmetno podro~je fotografije na Univerzi v Mariboru. Živi v Londonu.

2012 Nova F, Tendence v slovenski fotografiji / kustos Vasja Nagy, Galerija Stolp, Maribor 2012 Umetnost zdaj : Interier / kustos Oto Rimele, Univerza v Mariboru 2011 Fotografija je ženskega spola / kustosinja Monika Ivan~i~ Fajfar, Galerija Rika Debenjaka 2010 Paris Photo, Carrousel de Louvre, Pariz, Francija 2009 Photo Speaks 2009, Museum of Photography, Pusan, Korea 2009 Fotografija, ki je ni / kustos Vasja Nagy, Obalne galerije Piran 2008 Vanishing Points: the Vicious and Virtuous Circle, London, Velika Britanija 2006 Nova F, Slovenska sodobna fotografija / kustosinja Breda Kolar Sluga, Umetnostna galerija Maribor 2006 Intimno / kustos Vasja Nagy, Obalne galerije Piran š 2004 Jinak / Differently, National Museum of Photography, Jindrichuv Hradec, ^eška Nagrade in nominacije 2010 nominirana za LUCIE FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP, New York, ZDA 2008 nominacija za 1. nagrado, PHOTO ANNUAL, PDN, New York, ZDA 2006 1. nagrada SLOVENSKA FOTOGRAFIJA LETA 2006, EMZIN, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana 2002 nagrada IN side OUT, Vilna, Litva 2001 nagrada SLOVENSKA FOTOGRAFIJA LETA 2001, EMZIN, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana Portfolijo in strokovne ~lanke je objavila v pomembnejših revijah, kot so Camera Austria International, Revolver Revue, Found Photo Foundation/FPF, Emzin, Fotografija, Forum, Borec. Deluje kot predavateljica (Univerza na Primorskem; Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi; French Institute of Design and Communications Arts, Mumbai; Devi Art Foundation, Gurgaon) in urednica. Sodelovala je pri predstavitvi kon~nih projektov študentov na International Center of Photography, ICP v New Yoku.

ovitek/cover: Iz serije Polno~ v Mumbaju, 2012, srebro-bromidna fotografija, 83 cm x 103 cm From the series Midnight in Mumbai, 2012, silver gelatin print, 83 cm x 103 cm Izid kataloga sta omogo~ili:

Katalog izdal: Javni zavod Kulturni dom Nova Gorica, Mestna galerija Nova Gorica – Zanj odgovarja: Pavla Jarc – Uredili: Mateja Polj{ak Furlan, Pavla Jarc – Besedilo: Brane Kovi~ – Prevod: Peter Szabo – Oblikovanje: Adenda d.o.o. – Tiskt: Graphtech – Naklada: 300


Mestna galerija Nova Gorica Trg E. Kardelja 5 SI 5000 Nova Gorica T + 386 5 335 40 17 E mestnagalerija@kulturnidom-ng.si W www.mgng.net Urnik: od ponedeljka do petka od 9. do 13. ure in od 15. do 19. ure. Ob sobotah od 9. do 12. ure. Ob nedeljah in praznikih zaprto.


Tanja Verlak: Polnoč v Mumbaju / Midnight in Mumbai