Videofestival Natures 20
This year’s Natures festival is dedicated to Živko Kladnik, a versatile artist who has created and co-created a number of films in cooperation with groups from Kranj (Ime, KSK – Kino skupina Kranj).
The festival will feature short films that he made from the late 1960s to the 1980s. His portfolio includes over seventy films. Bežigrad Galleries have displayed his artwork (collages and visual poetry) in the past as part of both solo and group exhibitions.
The festival maintains the tradition of Bežigrad Galleries of presenting Živko Kladnik Films, Photos, Sound and film
The films and video works presented at the Festival Natures are based on images of nature, or else include images of nature in some of their sequences, or are derived from things found in nature. The Video Festival Natures is marked by people and their natures.
The film era 50 years ago, before and a bit after that
Živko Kladnik's beginnings in the world of filmmaking can be tracked as far back as the start of the 1970s. At the time there were numerous photography, cinema and film groups, which often blended photography with film. Sometimes as many as forty people worked on a single film. Directors often edited the films themselves. Groups of filmmakers owned all the equipment: cameras and tripods, editing tables with splicing tape, projectors and all kinds of sound equipment. They also had Magnetophons, large reel-to-reel tape recorders with amplifiers and speakers. The films were usually shot on 8 mm, Super 8 mm or 16 mm film. Sometimes they sent the footage abroad for editing, from where they would also buy film, equipment and splicing tape.
As for screenings, they were usually held at the clubs, local community premises or houses of culture. But not just there. Their films were shown at numerous festivals, even the largest national and international ones.
It is safe to say that there were many places available to showcase the bustling cultural activities of the time. Often their doors were open the whole day: in the mornings they welcomed the older population and later in the day a younger crowd, including elementary school pupils, high schoolers and students. Many discussions ensued. Coffee, tea, Cockta and mineral water were drinks of choice. They played chess and Ludo and solved crosswords. The artists set up newspapers and magazines for the attendees. A cultural event could be organised at any time. And without any rent for using the place. This started to change after 1991. For the worse, of course. None of it exists anymore.
Živko Kladnik's Framework
Each frame in Živko Kladnik's films can exist as an individual artistic photograph.
The still close-up shot from the ground in the film Escaping from Paradise features eight round shapes from the camera's front. Some of them are actual lenses and round camera parts. The camera itself is placed on the sandy ground next to the head of a boy lying right there with open eyes.
The camera to the left and the boy's head to the right. He is staring at us. And so do the lenses. It seems as if they are recording us. After a few moments the boy starts to get up. His head slowly moves upwards and disappears from the frame. The only thing left on the ground is the camera, staring and recording us.
This frame and the one from the film Aleksander from Bratislava is synonymous with Kladnik's framing style. In one of the still frames there is a man standing on a railway line, his face turned towards the viewer. A black surface with an oval opening covers the lens, thus only revealing a small part of the landscape with the track and the man. This emphasises the sense of expectation and drama, but also makes the observer more covert.
Kladnik's angles are intentionally different to those we are used to. He kept looking for new ones and explored unusual and ingenious compositions.
Živko Kladnik's films
Živko Kladnik used his surroundings, especially nature, as scenography. Many of his films were shot in nature, which he cleverly and inventively used as a tool for various lighting and compositional effects. He left nothing to chance, incorporating his surroundings into the shot with a clear vision. This is proof that Kladnik was a keen observer of his environment – a virtue rarely seen today in the Anthropocene.
Typical of his films are certain natural features, such as vegetation and branches, placed at the forefront of the scene, thus obscuring the view of the main activity. In turn, this awakens the viewer's curiosity and draws them closer to the action. As if the viewer stood all alone behind the branches, or rather behind the camera, secretly observing what is happening right before their eyes.
Some of the works, such as I Have Found the White Plains, were filmed in a snowy landscape. Once again nature plays the role of scenography – the shape of white plains in this instance. The black and white contrast is emphasized by the white of the snow and the characters in black attire. In some instances, the characters turn into black silhouettes on a white background, which bring to mind animated films by Lotte Reiniger, a pioneer of silhouette animation.
Rather than shooting from traditional angles, Živko Kladnik opted for unique ones. There is plenty of experimentation with camera positioning – in the film Don't Look Down he placed the camera on the floor and shot the scene from the point of view of a frog. In the film A Page from the Diary he filmed the actor from a high window, partially covered by a tree in bloom that stands between the camera and the viewer. The film includes many angles that catch the eye right away. Kladnik also paid careful attention to the composition of his shots, thus ensuring that every frame could be a photograph on its own.
Overall, Živko Kladnik's creations are proof that a silent film can grab one's attention as effectively (or even more so) than a film with sound and dialogue –with moving images that are the essence of the film.
Živko Kladnik was born on the 11th of June 1948 in Novo Mesto, and lived in the region of Gorenjska – Kranj and Cegelnica pri Naklem. He was a poet, a film director,head of the Film Festival of Kranj, president of the Kranj Football Club (1973-1979), secre-tary of the Chess Society of Naklo, a member of the Kranj film klub KSK, co-founder of the Kranj film group 'Ime' and the concretist group 'Stu-dio Signum', co-creator of the international publica-tions WESTEAST, a member of the 'Jasna' visual arts meet and coordinator and/or creator of numero-us other cultural events in the city of Kranj. He died in Kranj on the 23rd of January 2017.
Production: Bežigrajska galerija 2 / MGML
Exhibition curator: Miloš Bašin
Artist: Živko Kladnik
Design: Miloš Bašin
Editors: Miloš Bašin, Žoel Kastelic
Text: Miloš Bašin, Žoel Kastelic, Živko Kladnik
Tehnical design: Marko Tušek
Photodocumentation: Živko Kladnik
Translation: Dunja Elikan
Language editing: Dunja Elikan,
Promotion: Marina Mihelič Satler
Realisation of the exhibition: Technical Service MGML, Miloš Bašin
The exhibition was made by: City of Ljubljana
Sunday, Monday, holidays: Closed