In front of the Pavilion building, a windbag has been mounted. A windbag measures real wind in a real life situation here and now. A windbag visualises the wind for us to determine its direction and strength. However, here it is not about the wind. If I were interested in the wind, I would be studying the air pressures, the causes that generate the wind, and the types and characteristics of the winds. I would be talking to physicists, sailors and hang-gliders. But I am not interested in analysing the wind. The wind is only a means by which I produce movement, that is, change, and change is something that has always interested me. To be more precise, the perception of change. In the novel The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, P. D. Ouspensky deals with the futility of man”s will. Ivan Osokin messes up all life”s opportunities. After pleading, he is given another chance, but does everything the same again. The work Heap shows this futility. It consists of two videos in which the wind takes turns in scattering and heaping. Between the scattering and the heaping the print Wind appears as a static picture of the continuous now. In an imaginary return to the original order, the papers, carried away by the wind, return to the heap from which they flew off.
They return only to the same position, but in new time. In real life there is no “undo” option, that is only a digital invention. Even when erasing with a rubber, we keep going, keep creating, keep burning. Sometimes, although we unavoidably go on, our efforts are futile because everything returns to the original state. We make a heap, and the wind scatters it. It is as if, despite our will, nothing has changed, and there is only a traversed path, a closed circle, or a spiral which brings us back to more or less where we were. Is striving in vain, and progress an illusion? A heap can also be an utopia of correctability of unwanted events. The difference is only in whether we consider the change to be a positive or a negative one. If we were entirely indifferent towards change, possibly for us it would not exist at all. Possibly the change came into being as a consequence of valorisation, will and decision.
Will and decision are themes of the works Departure, Ice and White. In the video Departure I simply walk off into a field and disappear in the distance. I am recorded as I really walk. It is entirely irrelevant when and where, but there is no stopping, no doubt, no hesitation. The work Ice is carried out in two media because within the work there are two different planes of existence. On the print there is the space actually recorded, in which the action is taking place and where the footprints in the snow point to my presence and the path walked along. The footprints end at the edge of a frozen lake. Walking on ice requires courage and decision-making. Here, as at any moment, there is a possibility.
Once I had a dream. I was climbing at night up a hill, along ancient weed-choked temples and further amongst low vegetation. I came to the peak, and behind the peak there was a light so strong that I could not see a thing. It was marvellous, supernatural and entirely overtaking me. But I was afraid of walking further. I turned around and got down to the valley, where there were my friends and some other (drunk) people.
What was needed? Courage. Often when carrying out some of my decisions I feel so unreal as if I were sketched doing that, and not real. Sometimes I give up, turn around and go back to my footprints. The footprints in the snow in the picture do not with certainty tell whether I have returned or left.
Between the two works is White. I am standing amidst whiteness, so motionless that at first glance the scene appears as a projected image. However, if spectators look more closely, calm down and concentrate, they will notice that I am breathing. And not going anywhere. On the other side, a spectator who walks around the projection screen will again find an image of me from the back. My front part is not there, there is no forward to go. Everything is the same. That is what makes movement unnecessary.
In the central part of the exhibition area there are several photos and a drawing. In the photos, laundry dream of being released from the hanging line even though they are not able to control their path, feathers escape from the pillow and leaves fall off the branches (to fade). Between the photos there is a drawing of me flying, but actually I am falling. Just as the scarves, leaves and feathers fly in the air carried by the wind, without conscience, will or power of control, in the same way we are left to the flow of time without any tools or the ability to control movement in time. It carries us. The only thing that gives us an illusion of control is the will to choose among the possibilities we encounter. The same will which I have above accused of generating changes and time.
Which reminds me of another dream. I dreamed that I was flying above hills at dusk. Below me were groves, fields and villages with lights in a valley. On the ground something was running, wanting to grab and destroy me, something dark, like a horrible animal, or more of them. Probably death. But my flight, as it mostly is in dreams, was of such a nature that I was not able actively to fly or rise, but only to maintain the height, and that only when I was entirely calm, and not striving. As soon as I attempted to maintain altitude, I began to fall, and any action on my part made me fall. Fortunately, the landscape below me gradually declined towards the valley and, as I occasionally lost altitude, the ground declined. I was aware that the valley had its lowest point and that there the end of me was unavoidable. And I was resigned to it, enjoying the beauty of lights, the space around me and the wind.
Text: MIRJANA VODOPIJA
MIRJANA VODOPIJA graduated from the Graphic Arts Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb under Professor Miroslav Šutej in 1987. Since 1985 she had 28 solo exhibitions and participated in about two hundred group exhibitions or curatorial concepts in Croatia and abroad and in several international residence projects. She has won numerous national and international art awards. In her artistic accomplishments – by imbuing different artistic disciplines, from drawings and graphics, through light objects, drawings with filaments, installations and video installations up to the large size photographs and ambiances – Mirjana Vodopija has created a unique and versatile artistic body of work, whose main characteristics are contemplativeness and innovativeness in the specific approach to the phenomenon of light and movement. Art historians and theorists have written about her work – in books, Croatian and international specialized and art magazines (Kontura, Grafika, Grapheion, etc.). A comprehensive monograph about her art written by Branko Franceschi was published by the publishing house Fraktura in 2004. Her works are included in the collections of major Croatian museums and galleries: Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Modern Gallery in Zagreb, Department of Prints and Drawings of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka, Print Collection of the National and University Library in Zagreb, as well as the Print Inventory of the Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, and other museum and private collections. Since 1987 she has worked as an external consultant at the Croatian National Television (HRT) as a designer of numerous sets, title sequences, jingles and illustrations as well as visual identities for the shows in their production. From 1987 till 2007 she worked as an independent artist. She is also a member of the Croatian Association of Visual Artists (HDLU). Since 2007 she has been employed at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb as an associate professor and since 2012 she has been the Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs.