SAUDADE / Tobačna 001 Cultural Centre, Ljubljana­ 2015

Art and science have been closely related throughout history. The ancient Greeks already referred to art with the term techie. Its derivative, technique, applies to artistic and scientific practices, whereas technology represents the fundamental driving force of development, both in everyday life and (consequently) in art. As technology and life enter the field of art, they shift its boundaries, make it less and less static, and provide it with various forms.

Although Meta Grgurevič completed her postgraduate studies in painting, she found her means of expression in a complex interplay of kinetic mechanical objects and multidimensional settings. Her interactional systems contain audio and visual components, charging the viewer’s perception with their spatial occupation and technological components. Most mechanical elements are based on the re-contextualization of ancient inventions and knowledge. By converting them into gallery space, the artist probes the phenomena that affect human perception of time and place. In this exhibition project, she delves into a specific emotional state that the Portuguese, a nation of seafarers and musicians, call saudade. The word has no directly translatable meaning in Slovene. It describes profound longing for something and correlates with the here better known word sevdah. The mixture of emotions is associated with events and experiences that once brought happiness and now resonate with happiness and hope to relive or feel something again, despite knowing that what is being longed for might never return. Saudade encompasses a unique form of yearning for something other than the present, looking back at the past and turning towards the future. The emphasized temporal component, in its continuous fusion with sound (music was produced in collaboration with Bowrain), pervades the entire installation: the clock mechanism, otherwise a relevant time-measuring tool, is transformed into a musical instrument which further loosens our relativized awareness of time. The temporal dimension is further thematised by the video of a mother and daughter struggling on a hovering chair to find the uncertain balance in life. In the video, using her recollections to find alternative forms of (co)existence, the artist connects with her loved ones. Precisely measured intervals define the content, which is subject to time loops, as a repetitive state and a precisely measured possibility of the real. The resonant objects came to life in collaboration with Jaša (and will be incorporated into the project “Zaklop” to be featured at the Venice Biennale). Their triangular shape hints at movement through the place-time dimension, while on the cognitive level it sublimates the desire to merge, the need to seek a common image, language, tone, and synchronized motion. At a certain frequency, they form patterns on water surface that are strongly reminiscent of sea waves. Above them is a swing, reminding us of the long-gone childhood, and its swinging motion symbolically alludes to the resonance between the past and the future.

Meta Grgurevič’s audio-visual structures transform an exhibition space into an ambient; individual elements merge together and awaken a sensuous experience that remains suspended at the crossroads between history and memory, elusive as ever, and left to the future. ( Alenka Trebušak, Curator)