Text for the Exhibition Svetlana Volic PRESENCE, Gallery "Beograd", 2012
Author: PhD Predrag Terzic

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Have you ever wanted to change your worldview?

In one issue of the Boston Globe Johan Leher describes different ways of observing the world and the ways we can change it with the help of science and technology. It demonstrated how with the help of modern technologies and science we can change the way we view and interpret our problems which makes them less obtrusive. One of the tests used to illustrate this article, shows how the wound on a finger, viewed reversely through the binoculars, appears completely benign. This test explains how the normal viewing through the binoculars represents the wound out of proportions and highly perilous, which in turn induces our brain to rebel and react violently. With the simple turning of the binoculars, we get a totally different situations, where the finger and the wound seems further away, and thus more acceptable to the viewer.

May we propose that the installation of Svetlana Volic could be viewed in reverse manner?! Or, as the author herself states, that through the camera, understood as an inner eye, we could perceive all those things that disturb us in the spaces that we have never inhabited? Her video installation Presence is dealing with the issue of liberation, but not the concept of liberation that we were familiar with throughout the calamitous 20th century. It is the liberation of a different kind, the liberation of the video image, that became the document of our reality not previously used in the visual arts. The moving images are nowadays important since they are carrying the information that aught to be correctly understood.

In her video installation Svetlana tries to touch and even to encompass, the passage of time that is currently often related to the concept of speed.In her work we have the desire to slow down and to perceive the spiritual and physical equilibrium that Presence is offering to us. It is created in the same line of thought as the approach of Rosalind Krauss who understands the video as the means of self-reflection and self-criticism. On the other hand, we strive to understand the video installation of Svetlana Volic as the expanded screen. In a word, to perceive her entire installation with several senses, to use our own movement through installation, understand the very moving of the images, and in such a way to change our perception of space and the action revolving around us.

In her work Svetlana deals not only with the content of the image, its manipulation and its metamorphoses, but also  with the coordinates of the spatial field created by the light in the gallery. Playing with the space and the light, this video installation acquires the element of intimacy and silence that is so vital for us, in these times full of noise and speed. With this subtle aspect that the artwork offers, we are capable of perceiving the space and the installation in it on a higher level of understanding.

It could be said that in the installation Presence also emerges the element of the frozen image that automatically engenders the dialogue between Svetlana’s work and the beholder. George Bataille would call this phenomena a sort of split which is necessary for such a dialogue. From the encounter of the beholder and an artwork, emerges also something else that could be easily recognized as duration. Duration, perceived as a time needed for dealing with, and understanding of, the artwork, the time for decisions that is greater then the act of complementing the artwork with one’s own gaze. Taking about duration it aught to be said, that the images which had been slowed down, or those that contain a sort of slowness, represent one of those grounds where new art theories and strategies, that bring the new and renowned interest in the archaeology of time, could be established. Svetlana’s installation Presence contains that very interest in the archaeology of time, where the beholder is not just able to establish the dialogue with the artwork, but also to be immersed in it and consequently experience the lure of absence and the feeling of the different passage of time. The time that is we are constantly lacking.

The majority of us understand time and speed through the notion of space. We see it as a way of moving between two points, A and B, in the quickest way and with the minimum of time lost. Video installation Presence make us stay where we are, it draws us in itself in order to perceive, in our own way, everything that revolves in front of us. Due to its specific temporality, situated in the very moment of action, makes it easier for us to connect it to the spatial and temporal continuity of recording and reproduction of the same event in the other space and time. Thus, the installation acts as a replacement of something or someone absent from the new locus. Svetlana’s video installation is both contemplative and meditative, it literally slows us down, and makes us perceive and understand her desire to communicate her anxieties to us. Is it love, hope, life, death, absence, gaze, truth, longing, distance, silence...or maybe utopia.                                                                                 

PhD Predrag Terzić