Hidden Gems is a series of articles inviting curators, artists, collectors and art professionals to highlight some of their favourite work in the Ephimera marketplace. For our fourth instalment we welcome Josip Artuković; a photographer and aspiring filmmaker, cinematographer, and director based in Zagreb, Croatia. The following words are written by Josip.
At first instance, the photograph captivates with its soothing visual quality — gentle tonality, colour palette and framing that emphasizes the repetitious pattern — in itself already sufficient to hold attention long enough to be engraved into memory.
After further contemplation, the contextual richness and cultural implications of the photograph begin to surface. Resembling the pop-art aesthetic, the image implies the commodification of tradition and its values by capitalism’s systems. The way the subject is represented inevitably makes us consider the dynamic of our society in which we, while trying to be ourselves and to have our identities rooted in the culture we are a part of, by that very intention, fall under categorizations and classifications of the system which is trying to shape and model us as faceless consumers.
All the aspects of this artwork make photography, with the mechanical and industrial nature of its process and cultural and sociological use it had throughout history, a perfect medium for the communication of meanings we have interpreted here.
As the title directs my expectation towards a self-portrait, I am trying to pull my vision below the edge of the graphic curtain which is, apart from its continuous bleak colour, devoid of content. But just as I’m saying that, I’m beginning to question my perception and I’m not sure if that apparent curtain is actually a background while what now seems like a remnant of a photograph is a forefront layer?
It actually doesn’t even matter because this piece of work already accomplishes its intent just by putting its spectator in a state of perceptual uncertainty and prompting them to question the credibility of sight.
Seemingly burned polaroid film adds physical and tactile feeling to the piece and reminds us that photography is first and foremost a process that does not have to necessarily end up as an analogous representation of reality.
With his large-format camera, Jan Bora is able to document and study urban spaces and structures in minute details. Buildings and places, often photographed under construction or in the process of making, convey an intense feeling of an ever-changing landscape.
But more than just documenting these unnatural environments, with the specific methodology he employs, Jan investigates the light in city environments. From those investigations arouse important questions, answers of which we are not yet ready to acknowledge.
What is the quality of the light and how does it affect what we are seeing? How does the appearance of emerged world affects our consciousness? As we shape the world, does the world in return shapes us?