FLAGS AND FLAKS
A nation? Reaffirmed by laws, decorated with symbols, interwoven with collective memories and national myths – a formally egalitarian community legitimates itself as such by applying a set of exclusion criteria. Architecture, in particular, when viewed as a relationship between people and social structures, plays a decisive role in the struggle for the interpretative power of national identities. Buildings, since ever, have been part of representation and actors of nation-building. The Slovenian artist Suzana Brborović reveals the visual history of the occidental defence architecture, from the first protective fortifications to the military architecture of modern times and the present security architecture, by means of painting and deconstruction.
The ideal city of Plato or Dürrer, the utopian buildings of modernism, or planned cities such as Palmanova – all illustrate that the defence of borders, the idea of an ideal city and a loyal population form a symbiotic union. The "architectural unconscious" of the West, with its star-shaped layouts, geometric structures and straight forms, is presented by Brborović in large- and medium-format paintings to reflect on the continuity of this aesthetic and political history as well as its current power of action. On the canvas, the artist transcends temporal spaces by intertwining several layers of historical ground plans, incorporating patterns, motifs and compositions of the ongoing fortification of Europe. The images shift between rigid lines and spontaneous flowing forms, created directly through the artist’s gesture.
The motif of a bunker, the so-called flak tower, which during the Nazi dictatorship served as a robust border defence construction of the German Reich, permeates almost all the paintings of the exhibition. Sometimes it emerges as a floating object, other times just its outlines are visible. In some works, it can only be seen as a shadow or in the flight paths of its shells, which are reduced to powerful lines. The series of cuttings of original
floor plans from the 80s suggest the Slovenian striped tricolor, which colours are fading. The fragile cutting of a flak tower in the form of a ruin is a pictorial abbreviation of a state caught in a moment of disintegration, gradually losing its territorial integrity. It is at the same time a rhetorical figure, which can provocatively symbolize Europe’s steadfast border policy.
In the exhibition, urban planning and national ideals in connection with border control and state control thus turn into a dystopia, which at first sight appears to maintain total control through border defence. The complexity of the resulting connections and overlaps, which can be linked to something new through their pictorial quality, bring to light the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous through their stratification. The exhibition "Flags and Flaks" thus opens up a heterotopic space that reflects and at the same time visualizes current social conditions.
THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE SOUL, BODY AND HEART
THERE IS NOTHING AS TRIVIAL AND FLEETING ... AS THE TRACE OF DUST ON THE PALM OF THE HAND ... THE SOUND OF THE LEAVES IN THE COURTYARD ... AND THE DROP OF THE SNOWFLAKE ON THE FACE OF A GIRL WITH ANGEL WINGS ...
“Stairs are like geometric volumes, rising on their marginal surfaces, to be found soon thereafter as bent, broken, spirally wrapped around pillars and immersed in the perspectives of shadows ... The transverse wall pierced by a giant arcade separates a kind of chapel, which is the main motif in the second plane, which is seen as the first plane, and which the light also crosses in the same way ... We seek the vanishing point, which is way beyond, outside the edges, some sort of line on the horizon, over which some sort of bridge extends, whose direction is just opposite from the vanishing point on the other parts of the building ...” (H. Focillon, The Prisons of Piranesi)
In the foreground, in the intersecting point of our gaze there is /a/ “clot”, /a/ “monstrum”, great sign and “early trace”, die fruhe Spur, which forms the proposal Vor in the word Vorstellung, meaning in the appearance of the representations produced on the canvases by Suzana’s chromatic palette .... The representations in these images, “something that is essentially decomposed” ... in buildings and machines of sorts, abstract machines, which leave a primary trace as a fold in front and /be/hind: the infolding and overfolding of basic lines and directions. Yes, the “clot” as a manifestation of Lacan’s Thing, which now represents the basic and yet unformed fundamental and unconscious Triebe: /de/sires, wishes, Wunsche and ultimately their satisfaction – pleasure, la jouissance, like Suzana’s “saviour to meaning” of her art, painting as act, painting as object. Lacan’s “clot” is therefore not representation, but the representative of representation /Vorstellungenreprasentanz/, a phantom, demon, “vacant body”, in the relation to the world, which in history forms the essential features of precisely all philosophy, but also of existence and art.
Sigmund Freud writes: “It is precisely the drives – Triebe – that are extremely plastic, since they can replace each other and each of them can take on the intensity of the other. If reality prevents the satisfaction of one, this can prevent the satisfaction of the other. They are like a network of communicating, fluid-filled channels amongst themselves. The drives are like the Thing: the prehistoric Other, meaning /the underlying/ unconscious mechanisms, the primeval repressed “horrifying sex”, the source of all Wohl = goods, good, goodness, communicated by the painting. The silveryblack “clot” in Suzana’s images as a representative network of lines is something that “has the same structure as the signifier,” according to Lacan.
Thus the world of externalised appearances is already organised in accordance with the possibilities of the signifier, which is actually the external (hors) signifier. Therefore clot – concentration, condensation of unconscious signifiers, a silvery-black “mask – fetish”: clinical plasma as panseme in the forming of the painting ... in the formation of the artwork. Brborović combines pure form in her paintings: the archi-tecture of “dragon lines” and “rings” of lines and “clots” as the Real .... the physical, dream world as the Imaginary and “signifying hole” of the painterly /primeval/image as the Symbolic, ... embedded in the light – the illumination of the day ... and – with the signifying hole in the pictorial space, in the original phos, to phos as lux aeterna.
The real = pleasure, la jouissance = “the hearkening of the sense” of the Artwork, that embodies a relation, an erotic relation, which is and is not at the same time ... the Imaginary = Body, body parts, “parts, greater than the Whole” ... and Symbolic, which is fullness, which is all of the “void” of the painting as the primeval hymen (hymen – deriving from suo = to sew, fabric, weaving) = like a panel = meaning painting = libido = /drive/ for immortal life. The fourth article is the sintome, meaning Il y a Un = There is One /from/sexual relation and the pictorial Event = appropriation and proprietorship of the artwork – act (from the Latin actus as the combining and erotic /Eros and eroticism of the action of the un/whole “female” mask: le masque de la Femme pas tout), meaning the painting, fetish as the Forme of das Ding, which is the “representative of representation”= basic desires / Triebe/, wish/Wunsche/ and pleasure (Lust, Mehrlust, jouissance).
In her series of recent works entitled Saturation Limit, Suzana Brborović goes on researching the development of her local environment, and consequently, also the space and time. The artist sets architecture in the forefront of her painterly interest.
Once again it is through her own personal experience that she connects her memories and the everyday reflections on the events surrounding her. It is from scaffoldings, trusses and bricks that housing estates of blocks of flats have risen. Contents wise she focuses on the issues concerning living conditions in the contemporary society. In her painterly research she is discovering the ambivalence between construction of residential areas of high-rise flats from the past century, and the recent construction of the so called elitist housing estates that, due to the intentional overpricing, remain uninhabited empty shells left to the ravages of time.
The paintings represent a unique intertwining of urban networks, encircled by various forms of objects, creating a feeling of saturation. With the explosion of shapes Suzana Brborović creates spaces at which the spectator develops a feeling that she/he can enter and exit, and that she/he is part of both, the inner as well as the outer dynamics of the painting. It is this form of distinction between the inner and the outer segment of the painting that creates the spaces that are inter-separated and out of their proper place. The viewer enters into a Saturation Limit, where she/he can detect overlapping, intertwining, and connecting of architectural objects - in this case blocks of flats - creating tension and uneasiness. The paintings open up an extensive area of visual messages, where there is picture field as a closed entity intertwined with a network of images from the everyday life and the imaginary, hence re-defining our relation towards visuality.
The intertwining and conditioning of the painter’s vision of the world with social inequality, on the one hand symbolised by high-rise flats housing estates, on the other hand, however, the trendy architecture intended only for the selected customers, demands a reflection of the situation. Painting is exactly the thing - with its response to these conditions at a different level, by the analysis and disclosure of the strategies and techniques of visuality - capable of creating a field of artistic reflection, interpreting and recycling them by transferring them from a photograph onto a painter’s canvas. We are witnessing a new field of painting, open to the contemporary visual culture, reflecting the contemporary mass media and the position of the painting in them.
Suzana Brborović, is a propulsive and promising painter of a younger generation, who was growing up at the time of economic prosperity of the capitalist world until the moment when she stepped onto the path of her personal independence and, over night – not by her fault, but like many others – found herself in a social and economic crisis. This generation is, consequently, aware of what it means to be an artist today; and she does not remain indifferent towards social issues of the contemporary world.