Slovenian pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennial
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Interference in Process
The work of Miha Štrukelj is based on researching the mechanism of perception, which he analyses with the aid of traditional representational media – painting and drawing – but so as to include critical examination of the act of perception and the act of painting as committed existential acts of the contemporary subject.
In relation to a work of art, the artist's perception is a silent, invisible prerequisite, which, however, is excluded from the final product – it is the blind spot of the final image. How to access it? How to make it visible? How to retain a material presence of perception in the final image?
In the Slovenian pavilion at the Venice Biennial, Štrukelj examines the issue of perception in five equal segments.
'Notes on a board' will be a recording of the creative process in situ, disclosing to the viewer the seemingly marginal, preparatory stages of work based on calculations of matrices and coordinates. However, this framework is the constituent core of the exhibition as a unified project, a meta-painting, a processual planning and construction matrix of the final visual product.
The processual element continues in the segment 'drawings', which centres around the seemingly impersonal and mechanical outlines of images which are no longer the product of an incomprehensible artistic inspiration, but are revealed as carefully constructed images with the aid of grid drawing as a residue of traditional painting. Most often, Štrukelj examines the issue of constructed images through media-mediated images of infamous sites of human disaster or ephemeral scenes from anonymous urban areas.
The issue is further explored in the segment 'works on tracing paper'. Intimate or even subjective lyrical scenes softly build a fragile artistic subjectivity, as they seek to find a firm and substantial reference point in reality in the fleeting motif captured by the painter's consciousness, which represents the greatest possible, yet still traumatic and relative fragment of existential certainty.
In the segment 'Lego-picture' the issue is transformed into a playful Lego jigsaw puzzle. Building an image from Lego bricks is an extreme paraphrase of the subject's perception, as it uses only prefabricated elements, the minimal building atoms of an image. Here, Štrukelj toys with the idea of a digital image, which is similarly constructed from minimal atoms imperceptible to the eye – pixels. However, this is not a formalistic flirtation with digital aesthetics, but an ontological examination of the existence of images in the world: the final generated image of the contemporary – the digital image – is not linked to its real reference through an index as an imprint of reality, nor is it mimetic, a realistic copy, but a digital, abstract series in numerical sequence, which is transformed back into an image in front of the viewer. The digital relation of the image to the real reference is not unproblematic: in the void between them, the utmost traumatic experience can emerge, which, however, in the digital era no longer holds the guarantee of its original presence in the consciousness of the viewer, television audience, global public, as there is no original, substantial instance. Therefore, the digital image is subject to the most refined manipulation mechanisms in the history of the visual image.
In the final segment – 'painting' – these dimensions of the mediated image which seeks to overcome the void between the subject's perception of the world and its manifestation in an image are expressed, paradoxically, through traditional painting techniques. With the painted image, the starting point of Štrukelj's exploration of the nature of subjective perception comes full circle. Nowadays, painting, which once embodied the aesthetic experience, can only embody a constructed image, the outlines of an uncertain reality, penetrated by digital 'interruptions' of dark fields, which draw the painting experience of the world close to the abstract field of indeterminate digital matrix.
By juxtaposing different aspects of interruption in the process of re-presentation, Štrukelj constructs the possibility of accessing the world, which is as subjective as it is universal, in so far as it appropriates a universal issue.
Interruption is revealed as highlighting the artistic process when it begins to function as a separate artistic object. Interruption is manifested through the impersonal quasi-computer-like rendering of an image, as an impersonality whose subject is formed while attempting to produce impersonality. Layers of tracing paper constitute interruption, as they transform realistic references by constructing an artificial proximity. Material removed from reality means an interruption, because in the process of removal, the material is robbed of the dimension of reality in order to produce an optical illusion; however, the material has not been erased; it is still present, and its reality is juxtaposed to the reality of the illusion without it being clear as to which has the upper hand. The grid, a technical aid, constitutes an interruption, because the moment before it disappears, it assumes the role of an art object, and thus the excess by-product returns as a constituent element of an art work.
The artist is not the subject of perception because of a biographical or psychological moment, which is only relevant if it is presented and objectified in the artist's production. The action taken by the artist does not mean that perception is erased; on the contrary, an artistic act produces an extension of perception, showing a way in which the prerequisite of an art work can materially persist.
Miha Štrukelj does not avoid reality, but enters it to shift it. Also, he does not shy away from the traditional painting process: he penetrates it, but to pause in it, in order to highlight its problematic instances, which are made present as problems, problems of the world and its perception through this interruption.
Artist: Miha Štrukelj
Commissioner: Aleksander Bassin
Deputy Commissioner: Tevž Logar
Curator: Alenka Gregorič
Co-curator: Noel Kelly
With the collaboration of:
Aurora Fonda (Galleria A+A)
Ajdin Bašić (Graphic design)
Tadej Troha, Martina Vovk (Assistance with texts)
U.T.A. Prevajanje (Translation)
Jani Pirnat, Aleš Korpič and Strid (Technical assistants)
Miha Štrukelj is a visual artist working primarily in painting and also focusing on drawing and site-specific work for the last two years. He examines the process and the boundaries of painting and explores urban environments and their perception. He has recently received three awards – the Pollock-Krasner Grant 2008, the Henkel Drawing Award 2008 and the working scholarship of the Slovenian Ministry of Culture. This year his work has also been included in the National Collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana. He has also been selected for “Slovenian Art 1995–2005” and “Seven Sins; Ljubljana–Moscow” at Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana, and various other national and international selections. His work has been presented in “Vitamin P; New Perspectives in Painting” (Phaidon). He is currently artist-in-residence at ISCP in New York.
Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana
Galerie Ernst Hilger, Vienna
Slovenian Pavilion - Miha Strukeljat at 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009
More Miha Šrukelj images on flickr