The Match Gallery is delighted to be hosting Soap Opera, a sequel to an earlier installation by the Stran22 collective. Stran22 are now taking over more of the gallery, transforming the interior into three different viewing modes and juxtaposing it with its music-filled surroundings so as to create a new "soap opera": an opera based on soap water and an audience.
Soap Opera was first presented at the Match Gallery as part of the 2019 Lighting Guerrilla festival. That project explored the visual effects generated by a membrane made of soap water: its translucency, its reflectivity, its flowing colours in motion. Rather than an artwork per se, the installation functioned more as a scenic element that allowed the audience to experience many different ways of viewing. This was the first successful step towards the use of soap water as part of a stage design that could feature in a performance. Soap water film – a material so prone to bursting and disappearing – proved sufficiently durable, turning the vision of using it in a stage production into something achievable.
As a result, Stran22 are now taking over more of the Match Gallery for their latest installation, transforming the interior into three different viewing modes and juxtaposing it with its music-filled surroundings so as to create a new "soap opera": an opera based on soap water and an audience. The result is a deconstruction of an art form that is otherwise intact on the one hand, and a series of sequels on the other. While the soap water motif creates the conditions for wonder, the title of the project, Soap Opera, alludes to a work of art of lesser value, characterised by melodrama.
Creating a confrontation between form and its outward appearance has been a feature of all Stran22 projects in recent years, be that for Izis festival, where with each new exhibition they have paid closer and closer attention to the space in which the artworks are displayed; or their interventions as part of an interactive visual treasure hunt and its sequel, the radio drama Ježek in mehkomodri [English: The Hedgehog and the Soft-Blue]; or their permanent installation, Dante Copiosus, which, in addition to providing information about historical events, also guides the visitor through a first-person sensory journey that connects Dante Alighieri, the manuscript tradition, the role played by the city of Izola in the creation of two codices of the Divine Comedy, and the issues still raised by the Comedy today. Something similar happens with their Podgane [English: The Rats], a play staged at the Glej Theatre in which the stage space is ignored and the performance is instead conceived as one ambience transitioning into another, one scene passing into another, using both the surroundings of the theatre building and the spaces inside it, which are normally seen as mere supports for the stage.
In a way, Stran22, too, is like an impermanent screen: a group of friends who sometimes call themselves a family. The boundaries between those who belong to the collective and those who do not are hard to define, since both the input of each individual and the composition of the group as a whole are reshuffled in line with the specifics of each new project, and yes, in line with the personal circumstances of individual members at any given time too. But whether we are freelancers working in culture or employees spending our days in a job, for us Stran22 is an attempt to create a form of co-existence that seeks to make the 21st century, with its monotony and its breathlessness, more bearable. With all the strangeness that entails.
The premiere of Soap Opera by Stran22 collective will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, 23 November 2021.
Production: Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana
Co-production: PiNA, Strip Core/Forum Ljubljana
Exhibition Curator: Jani Pirnat
Artists: Stran22: Matej Bonin, Marko Čeh, Karlo Hmeljak, Kaja Kisilak, Anja Kozlan, Neža Mekota, Katja Pahor, Marko Turkuš, Marko Vivoda
Sponsors: KoPro - KOYO Orient Japan Co., Ltd.; Dipa.SI d.o.o.
This project is supported by: City of Ljubljana, Ministry of Culture
1 January, 1 November, 25 December: Closed
24 and 31 December: 10:00–14:00