Alen Ožbolt: Untitled

Alen Ožbolt


19. November 2014 – 7. December 2014

Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia

I am repeating myself. In 1996, for the exhibition Bellevue I wrote:

There is not enough bread for all eyes.

We are looking forward, we are looking now and we are looking afterwards.

Are we looking outside or inside?

What do we see and what are we looking at?

What do we really see and what are we really looking at?

We live in our heads, do we see – look with our eyes?

Our eyes are dreaming.

The modernists said: what is, is; what you see is what you see.

Today, the opposite is true: what you are looking at is not what you see.

For the exhibition Letters/Art via Mail in 2004 I wrote:

We are communicating and consuming.

In and out.

Inside and outside.

Import – Export.

We are consuming emptiness. Emptiness in the centre.

Superficial form without a core.

Kinder egg and S. Ž. fill the emptiness.

The world only acknowledges you if you are plugged in, if you are in circulation.

We are forced to propagate, spread our ideas, agitate.

Multiply the seed, sell, sell ourselves and our ideas.

In 2010, for my exhibition with Bojan Gorenec and Žiga Kariž entitled Visual Bureaucrats. A Triple Divorce of the Image / A Troubled Divorce of the Image / A Multiple Exclusion of the Image: The Most Beautiful Painting, The More Beautiful Painting, The Beautiful Painting (No Title), I thought: as far as I am concerned, it is about the painting, the materialisation of an image, which can be the result of rough or dirty or dangerous operations. Naturally, a painting also speaks about its outside, the world, the context, yet it can be in opposition, in conflict with the outsider, the visually predominant. In my works, the media world is not reflected but erased; by different means and procedures I turn off the screen. In my works, I examine the status of the painted and sculptural image within the framework of, the context of and in retreat from, in avoidance of the determining media environment. Artworks can at the same time take media influence into account, be critical towards them or erase them.

Today, I do not know. I have said everything through the exhibition. There should be a media blackout now. Our representations are created by others; we are experiencing a hypnotic (perhaps even radical and brutally telematic/digital) annihilation of our bodies and real space. The tremendous manipulation of our wishes, the creation of our beliefs, the construction of our views and the directing of our gazes. The hallucinatory core of our reality: we all dream the media dream. The virtual cloud is changing the material world. Fantasy, myths, stories, fairy tales have always existed; there has always been a multitude of worlds, yet they used to be imagined and created by people. But today do we really know who is behind it all, or do we not know? It is not us, not our dreams, not our imagination – today the virtual and digital world is what seeks, what strives, to become real.

Everybody’s work should have some social effect but is this really the case? An increasingly relevant question is: what should we do? Or, perhaps even more, what should we not do? Should we do nothing? In other words, should we not do? Not do anything? Many words, far too many, have been said, and many more images sent into the world. What now and what next? The answer could be emptiness and silence, yet here, in this catalogue, as always, again there are words, commentaries, statements and images, photographs of works. Only things know silence. Now, and also next, we must, and will have to, say as little as possible in the shortest and fastest time. This is an order: write minus. Write only what is the least urgent – not the most, but the least urgent. Emptiness is the important idea – a hole, erasure. The basic idea here is to wipe the image off the screen. To see what is not seen. Not “to see nothing”, but to see the erasure, the absence of the image. A screen without an image. Naturally, this seems impossible, utopian, because there is always something; everything is information, everything is a message, everything is a text and an image; the erasure of an image is an image, etc. Yet I insist that in the bustling media world, which is today constantly and everywhere present, there needs to be a hole somewhere, a deficit, silence or emptiness. Even if this is just an intermission. “Space out”. Or can this hole exist only outside media space and not inside it? A deficit of the dominant media image and word in order to create a deficit. Art and silence. Silent speech, empty images, the space of silence and empty surfaces. Creating a hole in the medium. Silence is older than the image and the word.

Views, questions, working processes, procedures and steps:

What do we see, where do we see it and how? What do we feel, where do we feel it and how? Do we really feel with our bodies? Does the body really feel? Does it feel the screen? And how is the body caught – or not – onto a surface and why not? Endless production of media images. Full screens and full stomachs. Endlessly efficient technology of bodiless media images that continuously pile up, devour each other. Touch-screen telephones and tablets mean stroking and stroking and stroking, i.e. screwing around in the digital information media world.

Lights and light shows and glittering images, momentary, quick, bodiless images. Does the bright or glittery image cast a shadow? And is this the shadow of the bright image?

The media image is never without words, without a message. An image is not without a voice. An image is not without a message. The final message of the media image is “buy”, “have me”. “Buy” and “have me”!

What are my workshop and kitchen of materials like? What is my laboratory like? Is there silence? Is there darkness? My studio is underground, like some kind of a mine.

A space of reflection. A form of différance / a shape of difference. There is form and non-form, working and not working, so there is an option: to work, to do or not to work, non-doing or not to do. Works and non-works of art at the exhibition have no words, subtitles, titles, no voice.

Dynamic relationships. Construction and deconstruction, building and demolition. Painterly/sculptural form with different (natural and artificial) construction materials. By hand, from hand, from the body. The work of the hand and the work of the body. The capabilities of the material. Mixing, spinning, turning, squeezing, applying, rolling, submerging, pouring, gluing, merging, lighting on, cooling. Warm, soft, bodily, sensual form. Erosion and entropy. And thermodynamics.

Every form has a thickness. Why this is interesting and why should it be stressed that a form has a thickness and three dimensions? There is the inside of a form, something that a form is hiding; what we see is hiding something. There is a behind of a form. And an underneath of a form. Therefore, a view of a material form is always partial and incomplete.

The challenges posed by the materials and the material foundation. Painterly/sculptural form with different (dead and living) materials: colours, pigments, polymers (polyurethane, polyester), binding materials, cement, plaster, clay, glues, asphalts, bitumen, resin, canvas, cardboard, wood, aluminium.

Drawing by hand, contact, grasp, stacking, applying, turning, kneading, moulding, contracting, touching, grasping, squeezing, gluing, submerging, pouring, dissolving, lighting on, grasping, smoothing, imprinting. Spaces and settings, “material painting scenes” are captured, located, physically punctuated. The event is stopped, stalled, suspended in one place, it is a condition (in both senses of the word), so being still, not moving, and a position, both is a circuit of former and suspended aggressive processes. The process that has been stopped, suspended on the spot (perhaps it is wandering around at the spot!?). While moving and working, “working” environment and the framework of a work moves, changes from place to place, from one material to the next, from one painting to the next (from one image to the next, from a painting of a sculpture, the sculpture of a painting), here it always stops. What happens then with a certain painting-object (or with a sculpture of a painting, a painting of a sculpture), what happens with the reception, the gaze, is actually completely unpredictable. Naturally, the “here and now” of the exhibition is also a thereafter.

Materialised image is oriented within, into itself. Densification of energy. It is collapsing. Entropy and thermodynamics of the image. A physical, sensory, dense and full form. The operation of form, the form of operation. The logic of form and then a dialectic form. And a contradictory form: a heavy, wild aggressive painterly sculptural, panting-sculpture form, as if I was hitting the image, breaking it, erasing it.

The issue of social space is; moreover, there is an issue of width and depth of personal space. The width and depth of a person from below, above, the front, the back, over and under. Three things at the same time. An in-depth leap from below, from the mine, from the first sketch to the next, the upper one, the last one, the top one and the one in the back.

The sculptural/painterly form as a form of difference and secession. Constructing an image with material. Painterly or sculptural form as a transformation, re-shaping and translating form. Is it really necessary to turn around, to overturn, to re-shape into something else? Something new again?

Image in matter, image in material form. Energy and material densification of an image. Densified, heavy, dense from the inside, heavy painterly-sculptural form. A contradictory form in contemporaneity.

Manual construction of a painting and a sculpture. Manual construction of something that is both a sculpture and a painting. Sculptural painting and paintings of a sculpture. Point x, y of the encounter. The dominance of language, language and text on a pedestal. Does only what is visible and can be read survive? Duchamp was against the tyranny of the hand, against crafts. Today, there is a tyranny of the machine, the computer and language, of concepts. Today it is blah blah blah blah blah and blah…The hand is cut off. Today we do not handle things with our hands, machines handle things with machines. Do hands still exist? Do we still have hands?

Materialised image. An object for thought. Image-object goes within, into itself, does not travel on endless cables. The question of volume and flesh of an image. Controlling the space of the image Creating a 3D-space for the image. Person, their space and volume is reduced to the size of the screen…and the image of the person is only a screen image. Extreme diminution. Diminution of a person to the size and format of the screen. To reach the size, to reach a space worthy of a human there must be de-screening, materialisation.

Image as an object, bodily image, image from the material. The object of the image of the image object as a foreign object, something foreign in today’s world. Moreover: each person is an object, each object is a person. So each thing, each object is a subject. And this means more and more.

I repeat and build pictures of the world, I am repeating this just like I did in year 8, 9 or 10, I am repeating this just like I did in year 11… and the media world is not reflected in them. It is being erased and is disappearing. Black screens. White screens. Silver screens. Clay screens. Empty screens. Dead screens. Here, it is being erased and is disappearing. I repeat: black screens, white screens, silver screens, empty screens. Dead screens. Here, it is being erased and is disappearing. Black screens. White screens. Silver screens. Clay screens. Empty screens. Dead screens. Here, it is being erased and is disappearing. I repeat. Black screens. White screens. Silver screens. Clay screens. Empty screens. Dead screens. Here, it is being erased and is disappearing. Black screens. White screens. Silver screens. Clay screens. Empty screens. Dead screens. Here, it is being erased and is disappearing. Black screens. White screens. Silver screens. Clay screens. Empty screens. Dead screens. Here, it is being erased and is disappearing. Black screens. White screens. Silver screens. Clay screens. Empty screens. Dead screens. Here, it is being erased and is disappearing…This repeats / I am repeating myself.

Text for the exhibition Untitled (sculpture painting, sculptural painting, a painting of a sculpture; screen–object, object of the screen) 2008−2014, Škuc Gallery, 2014. Translated by Tina Škoberne, Rawley Grau.

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Installation Views

Selection of Works from the Exhibition



Alen Ožbolt