Leonida Kovač: Blind Spots of Vision

KIC, Preradovićeva 5, Zagreb

Through a parallel reading of Harun Farocki’s film “Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges” (“Images of the World and the Inscriptions of War”) from 1988, W.G. Sebald’s poem “After Nature,” published the same year, and Sebald’s essay “Luftkrieg und Literatur” (“Air War and Literature”) from 1997, Leonida Kovač prompts us to reflect on the blind spots in the interstices of visibility and the act of seeing, situations in which what is visible remains unseen or unrecognised.

What connects Sebald, a writer, scholar, and founder of the British Centre for Literary Translation, with Farocki, a visual anthropologist and one of the most important contemporary filmmakers, is not only the common theme of aerial warfare but also the fact that both were born in Nazi Germany in 1944, at a time when the Third Reich was finally collapsing due to Allied carpet bombings, known as “firestorms.” Both artists were preoccupied with German silence after World War II and the oblivion they perceived as deeply rooted in the structural violence that is often not perceived because it is naturalised through a series of cultural practices. Among them are undoubtedly the visual arts. In their artistic inquiries, Farocki and Sebald focused on the gap between “historical truth” and “material truth,” or, in Derrida’s terms, on the “truth about truth,” or more precisely, on the modalities of memory construction.

Leonida Kovač is an art historian and theorist, curator, and full professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Zagreb. Her focus of interest lies in contemporary art and critical and feminist theories. She has conceived and realised over forty exhibitions in Croatia and abroad, as well as several international professional and scientific conferences. She has served as commissioner and curator of national presentations at major international exhibitions, including the International Biennial of Visual Arts in São Paulo (2002) and the 50th Venice Biennale (2003). She has held positions in the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) based in Paris, where she was a member of the Board of Directors (1998-2002), Vice President (2002-2005), and again a member of the Board of Directors (2005-2007). In 2002, she received the annual award from the Croatian section of AICA for outstanding critical and curatorial work. She is a member of the International Council of the Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation. She has delivered a series of invited lectures at prestigious European universities and numerous public lectures in Croatian and international museum and gallery institutions.

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