My Artist-in-residence time at the Autonomous Cultural Zone Metelkova Mesto in Ljubljana, a cooperation of the Srečišče Gallery (KUD Sestava) in hostel Celica and Studio Asylum (KUD Mreža & Julij Borštnik), gave me manifold experiences and inspirations in various ways. I had the opportunity to meet many different people from Metelkova, sharing their diverse involvements and experiences about this unique place with me.
Especially staying in the beautiful and cosy Studio Asylum right in the center of Metelkova, I got the chance to experience and be part of the multifarious daily life of the “backstage” Metelkova as well.
“THROUGH MY WINDOWS/EYES”, video projection
Beside the cooperation with Slovenian artist Katja Oblak, I was working with my perception of Metelkova, in which the Studio Asylum started to play an important role. It induced the image and term of the “Zwischenraum” (space in-between), which became the conceptual background of my own work and as well represented an important element in the body artwork “Lipa 08-31” with Katja Oblak.
As the Studio Asylum is located in close neighbourhood to the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (+MSUM), the view from its windows provided a daily visual link to this “Zwischenraum”, an encounter as well a border between different implementations of architecture and urban (infra-) structures as the result of diverse socio-cultural and political backgrounds of the so called “sub-culture” (Metelkova Mesto) and “high culture” (+MSUM e.g., part of the museums area). At the same time, these spaces, structures and behaviours with their diverse appearance next to each other are sharing an identical history, having been part of one big military place, the traces of which are still visible at both places.
According to my perception one important quality of the “Zwischenraum” implies the image of emptiness and therefore rejecting precise definitions, some attribute I perceive as lack in urban public structures. Beside the constant presence of advertisements, propaganda and forced consumption, most of public places seem to be defined and directed by the city council how to be supposed to be used by people. So the “Zwischenraum” can generate a critical approach to political and economical motivated acts how to use public space and Metelkova seems to be one of the most alive examples of this “Zwischenraum” potential, I believe.
I started to experiment with different performative interventions in the studio and outside the studio, with my body and without my body using instead appropriate implements like a mirror (daytime) and a torch (night) or a big mobile tower from Metelkova. These little experiments can be perceived to temporary expand Metelkova, interfering and using existing urban structures by really moving objects e.g. But primary I was focusing on the “Zwischenraum” of my studio and the neighbourhood (+MSUM) in opposite, using its facade for more intangible interventions, like a projecting screen for my videos, reflecting proverbially my perception and involvement of my ambiance.
The video work “THROUGH MY WINDOWS/EYES” involves all videotaped interventions and will be presented on the facade of +MSUM in Metelkova springtime 2014.
“Lipa 08-31”, video
Collaboration with Slovenian artist Katja Oblak
Katja Oblak working at interface of sculpture and Butho-dance and part of KUD Sestava, invited me to join a Butho-dance-workshop at Festival Histeria in Gračišče to get prepared for our collaboration during my artist in residency in Metelkova Mesto.
At the beginning of my residency, Vesna Krmelj, art-historian, founding member of KUD Sestava and curator of the Srečišče Gallery, introduced us to a big old stump of a lime tree (“lipa” in Slovenian) at Ljubljana city-district Rožnik not cut long time ago. The matter of the city council to remove the tree seemed blurry and it reminded me on the ongoing conflict in Turkey, which started with the defense of students against the decision of the city to destroy the Gezi Park (starting with cutting the trees) in Istanbul for economic reasons.
However, the elimination of the lime tree appeared as a coherent subject for our collaboration or rather Butho seemed to be an adequate method to deal with the subject and to drive attention to “the place of Lipa”.
The result of dealing with “Lipa” was an experimental Butho performance at its stump and surrounding, dealing with the absence of the tree and the specific area around it. At the same time the final performance was done for the two video cameras – setting, to record the material for our work “Lipa 08-31”, which was shown in the Srečišče Gallery. Therefore the work “Lipa 08-31” achieves neither the pure presence of a performance nor the purpose of a video documentation: both mediums were necessary for the result.
For me working with Lipa (object) meant working with the space (context) around as well; so the performance was directly inspired by the concrete natural attributes of the place, like the streetlight in opposite of the stump and the road passing by. The streetlight illuminating the stump became part of the “Lipa space”, acting like a natural stage light for Lipa and putting attention on its story. In this regard the light became an important element in the performance-setting and as well an essential composition element in recording and editing the video.
The lime tree is known to be planted next to borders and used as a meeting point of villages in the past. In this case, the lime tree seemed to be plant for border-reasons marking the road next to it, which could have been the historical boarder of Ljubljana-city and the nature around. So Lipa became a metaphor of the idea of the “Zwischenraum” (space in-between) and one of the main subjects in the performance. The quality of the “Zwischenraum” may be something like “the grey area of existence” and seemed to expose well the condition of the Lipa stump: a trace of the absence of the tree but at the same time an image of its presence, ambivalent qualities the performance may be able to express.
Beside the natural sound of the environment, the performance was supported by a live played traditional Slovenian Lipa song (violin by Eva Rajh) and a via smart phone uploaded sound, which was the result of transforming a picture of the Lipa-stump into sound by a spectrogram-analyzer software. Both sounds are results of the existence of Lipa and may be a little hint that there is no gap between nature (analogue sound) and culture (digital sound); it all comes from the same source, the space in between.
During my residency in Metelkova, I received various kinds of support from many people.
So I would like to say special thanks to following people:
Staff of Hostel Celica
Alojzij Oblak & Julija Pečnikar
and all the people of Metelkova
Anna Watzinger, Vienna 2013