Lela B. Njatin: I Did Not Want to See but I Have since Come to See
The exhibition involves three visual installations and one sound installation by Lela B. Njatin, which were created in the period 2010–2013 as a result of the author’s research into the perception of art in urban space.
As Lela B. Njatin wrote, by taking a collective codification of life in towns and cities as their major theme, the installations point to what is dehumanised in the functionality of a city and show the extent to which man has been functionalised. Apart from that, these works test the boundaries of art, creating real-life situations in which it is impossible to avoid considering the function of art. By introducing interventions in the exteriors as well as by redirecting attention in the interiors, they challenge our awareness of a gap between that which is looked at and that which is seen. Three of the works on display are linked to a relatively limited location in the very centre of Kočevje. By making a barely discernible intervention, the author has turned this location into an artistic medium; she did this with each individual work, and in a different manner for each of them, without changing the authenticity of the setting itself. In so doing, Njatin succeeded in opening up a clearly trivial appearance to all its mighty complexity and ultimate extraordinariness.
Created specifically for this exhibition, the fourth work aims to activate conscious reception in place of automatic reaction: rather than allowing viewing, it demands reading. Overall, the project directs our attention to the missed messages of an urban landscape and urges us to make out those texts of the cultural identity which have remained unfinished – unfinished by virtue of being caught in a palimpsest-like and dimensionally fluid network of texts of triviality. Yet what stands in front of the door leading to this philosophical-aesthetical labyrinth is a simple message: Ecce homo. The author searches for man in the labyrinth of materiality which he has created himself. She sees man amidst the complexity of art which he has alienated himself from. Art as such is presented by the artist as equalling the perception of a mental ambience, which amounts to what man is in his own right. And in art – it is in the field of mental visions that seeing takes place.
Lela B. Njatin has devoted the central part of her life to literature. However, her creative career started in the 1970s in the field of visual (she was a member of the mail art international movement as well as of the Slovenian avant-garde called Westeast). Njatin made her first appearance in the group exhibition Dasevididanekidela (Likovni salon, Kočevje 1980): 3D poetry, installation and ready-made. She has since kept returning to fitting together the visual and the literary in an autopoietical fashion, for instance in a performative installation called I Did Not Want to Know but I Have since Come to Know (Muzeum, Ljubljana 2005). Since 2010, this vein of her creativity has been on an upward trend, generating a highly varied visual oeuvre based on conceptual considerations.
Production: Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana
Artist: Lela B. Njatin
This project has been made possible by: City of Ljubljana