Iñaki Bonillas, Ulay

Opening: Monday, 28th November 2016 at 8 p.m., Projektni prostor DUM, Kolodvorska 6, Ljubljana
28.11.2016 - 13.01.2017

The Infinite Relation in Difference exhibition offers an opportunity to reflect in direct terms on the relationship between artistic practices that emerged in different temporal, geopolitical, social and economic contexts, which can always affect the concept of a work of art, and above all the conditions of production in which it is created. These are often linked to the formal execution of the work or the chosen medium of expression. The exhibition combines two works of art, creating a horizontal connection between two works created at different times and in very dissimilar social contexts, which are linked and work together to pose pertinent questions about the role and development of photographic images through time. The show takes into account the fact that both media and works of art always emerge in relation to a particular time and space, which is what makes them contemporary. In this respect, the juxtaposition of works by Iñaki Bonillas and Ulay provides a reflection of notions linked to issues that are relevant to the photographic medium, while establishing a direct link between historical and contemporary visual arts. The juxtaposition also directly points to how the artists’ approach to contemplating a theme, uniquely ‘anchored’ in the contexts of their creation, is completely different, although both are very sensitive and contemporary.

The conceptual premise for examining the exhibition The Infinite Relation in Difference is Ulay’s work Fototot (1976), one of the artist’s key works, which also represents a shift in the method of understanding the photographic image in general: it is no longer something fixed, stable and eternal, but instead is becoming ephemeral, and above all fleeting. In terms of content, Ulay chose photography because it allows for the optimal presentation of motifs from the intimate world and the people around him. In terms of form, in the late sixties and early seventies, the photographic medium was thought to be subversive, and its inherent qualities reflected a different relationship between the artist, their surroundings and the art world. However, in the context of Fototot, one needs to explore deeper, as it is a work in which almost all of the artist’s notions on photography converge. In addition, Ulay establishes an uncompromising physical and mental relationship with the spectator, symbolically announcing the transition into performance. This idea is best conveyed by his own words: “While my blood is warm, my static works are amputated limbs, extinct and dead”.

At the exhibition, Ulay’s work appears next to a work by Iñaki Bonillas from The Mirror’s Ideas series (2009), which also conveys the artist’s reflection on photography, yet completely differently, as the artist explores the issues of emotion, memory and the possibility that found photographic images could have a new narrative. Since 2003, Bonillas has used the photographic archives of J.R. Plaza, which he inherited from his grandfather. Also part of this practice is The Mirror’s Ideas project, which combines personal, private and emotional narratives, while analyzing the specifics of photographic media. In the exhibited work, the artist concerns himself only with photographic images that include a mirror reflection, thereby incorporating a ‘negative’ of the photographer’s gaze, while not forming part of the intended image that is captured. These, sometimes almost invisible “images within images” first seem as if they provide a background to the main protagonists in the photographs, but are then formally precisely transformed by Bonillas, warning the spectator about the importance of reflecting what is imperceptible or unexpected to the eye – for the spectator and the person behind the lens.

At this point, one wonders what role Ulay’s or Bonillas’s photographic images have in relation to the spectator. To some, their value may lie in the aesthetics of the image, while some form a relationship through different experience, both thematically and formally. Although a photograph captures a moment here and now, the moment is already in the past. This is substantively and formally evoked by both artists, as both Fototot and The Mirrors Ideas question established tenets of photography. It seems that both projects slide between different elements of photography, yet do this from completely different perspectives anchored in completely different temporal and spatial contexts. The Infinite Relation in Difference seems like the fleeting, tiny space in-between, somewhere between Barthes’s punctum and studium, with the artists creating the conditions for the spectator to analytically examine the facts linked to photography or to simply scan them, while being provocative through the artistic experience of the works, which comes like an unexpected blow and creates a vertical connection for the spectator, and the artists, too: the infinite relation in difference.

Curated by: Tevž Logar

Production: DUM Association of Artists

Organisation: Sanja Kuveljić

Acknowledgments: Alenka Gregorič, Damjan Kozole, Claes Nordenhake, Lena Pislak, Maša Radišić, Claudia Sorhage, Peter Uhan, Yasmin Martin Vodopivec, Goran Petrov in Galerija Škuc

The Infinite Relation in Difference exhibition was prepared in collaboration with MGML / Ljubljana City Gallery and is conceptually linked to Ulay's solo show I Other

Support:  Municipality of Ljubljana/ Department for Culture

Opening hours during exhibition time / Tue – Fri/ 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. and by appointment