Karin Rolle / Intrada Modes of Speech / 2010

The term INTRADA is borrowed from the theory of music: it means an introductory piece of music before a following main part. The term derives from the Latin origin „intrare“, standing for „to enter“, or „to go in“. Taking into account these meanings, the title INTRADA sum- marizes the concept of the exhibition with Wiebke Elzel, Jana Müller (Berlin, Germany), and Borjana Mrdja (Banja Luka, BH) in two ways:

Luka, they added seven new motives to the already existing themes car- ried out in Italy and the Eastern parts of Germany. The small format photographs show abandoned interiors, like a canteen kitchen of a re- tirement home with huge disarranged cooking-machines, empty hall- ways of factories, or private rooms with walled doors. The works seem to report on incidents that happened, and the viewer can even follow notes as concerns the subject and the exact place and time of the events on the passpartouts. Yet the information gets stuck at a standstill and repeatedly fails to reveal what one is asking for. An abyss of disaster becomes perceptible without being named exactly.

On the one hand, the show is a parallel event of the exhibition SpaPort and evolves as an introduction to events yet to happen, but is conceptu- alized independently. On the other hand, the concept of the exhibition draws on the Latin origin that is the idea of someone entering a space. In this sense, Wiebke Elzel and Jana Müller are invited to enter the unfamiliar region of Bosnia and Herzegovina or Banja Luka, respec- tively, and to work in that context. At the same time, this step into the unknown space doesn‘t remain a one-sided process, but is realized in an exchange with Borjana Mrdja.

The works „Landscape (Oct 20, 2010)“ and „Sounds“ came into being during the short term artist-in-residency in Banja Luka. „Landscape (Oct 20, 2010)“ shows a view from the most popular place for excur- sions, the mountain Šehitluci. But instead of reproducing the often pic- tured sight down on the city, the artists capture a moment in which the glimpse of the beholder gets lost in an ensemble of trees and fog, not able to catch any detail of the expected subject. Consequently, the process of reporting and narrating is interrupted again - similar to „Ar- chive Elzel / Müller“.

The artists examine a mode of speaking in a surrounding in which cer- tain topics remain unuttered and in which words often seem to fail and to run dry: Bosnia and Herzegovina, many years after its founda- tion as an independent state, still clings to the repetition of a specific discourse, the economic obstacles are barely dealt with, the process of political decision-making remains hindered, and the division of the country along ethno-national lines is further prolonged. Is it possible to speak about that?

A further series carried out during their residency, „Sounds“, assembles first impressions a stranger gets entering the city: The artists collected pictures of nearly all religious buildings they were passing by, that is, a considerable number of catholic churches, mosques, and orthodox churches. „Sounds“ ties up with the idea of meticulously documenting spaces and sites. But in contrary to „Archive Elzel / Müller”, here the buildings - reproduced on copy paper - can be deciphered and located exactly. Yet the disaster rather comes with multiplying them and creat- ing a huge pile of copies: Similar to the ubiquitous presence and compe- tition of religious buildings in the public sphere, the pile occupies and barricades the exhibition site.

The work of Wiebke Elzel and Jana Müller unfolds its idea along a thin line: The thoroughly arranged and aesthetically balanced settings docu- ment a well ordered reality. Yet at the same time, behind the meticu- lously depicted surface, there seem to flash up vague „moment(s) of danger“ (Walter Benjamin) and traces of incidents that happened but that the beholder fails to reconstruct.

The artists started to work on the series „Archive Elzel / Müller“ in 2003. Since then, they have been continuously expanding it. In Banja

The thin line between thoroughly arranged subjects and the crisis very close to them is also the leitmotiv of Borjana Mrdja‘s work. In „Cut-out Moments“, she works with photographs from an album of her fam- ily and friends showing peaceful and emotionally involved scenes. In a second step, she draws these pictures of different periods of her life in bright colors, and on the background she types important (histori- cal, political, cultural, technical, scientific...) events which marked that year and which indirectly influenced the intimate moments. In this way she explains subjectively perceived incidents ex post by adding objective narratives. But the text remains partly scratched out, differ- ent layers of text overlap each other, and contradicting narratives are juxtaposed to each other: The drawing of the year 1990 displays the fragments „James Douglas nokautirao je Mike Tysona i postao šampion svijeta teške kategorije u boksu“, next to „German reunification“, and „Slobodan Milošević izabran za predsjednika Srbije“1 . Even though Borjana Mrdja collects the data of the year in an attempt to document and explain the instant, the reports trail away and fail to depict the spe- cific scenes.

While „Cut out Moments“ doubles figures taken from photographs by redrawing them, in the light box „Artists at Work“ Borjana Mrdja re- moves the figures from the pictures in order to emphasize the space that surrounds them. By doing so she underlines how specific conditions and contexts determine the figures resp. the artists and their work. The background that becomes visible in the light box can be deciphered as a declining and disappearing factory. This setting is actually recalling the empty scenarios of „Archive Elzel / Müller“.

Describing the encountered reality, Wiebke Elzel, Jana Müller, and Borjana Mrdja don‘t judge or offer another truth, rather their narratives seem to fail and remain in silence, but not without trying over and over again to find a way of articulation. It is possible to speak about all that in a tone that is subtle and unexcited. The show departs from the complex political conditions in Bosnia and Herzegovina but poses the question about possible modes of speech via visual arts in general.

1 „James Douglas knocked Mike Tyson to the floor and became heavyweight champion of the world in boxing.” / „Slobodan Milošević was elected President of Serbia.”


uzeto iz kataloga / taken from catalogue:

Editor: Protok, Center for Visual Comunication; Text editing: Karin Rolle; Translations /Proofreading: Jelena Bajić; 

Graphic design: Nina Stanarević; Year of production: 2010