Opening Reception: Saturday, May 12, 2012 6:30 - 8:30PM
“In Michael Tournier’s fable The Legend of Painting, a caliph holds a competition to establish the better of the two paintings commissioned to cover opposing walls in his palace. The first painting, by an artist who’d never left home before, is unveiled to show the beautiful picture of a Chinese garden. A week later, the second, widely travelled, painter pulls back the curtain to uncover a vast mirror in which the first painting is brilliantly reflected. He hadn’t lifted a brush but was immediately declared the winner as not only did his secondary image contain the beauty of the first, but its garden was also alive, populated by those viewing it (Tournier 1992). In Peter Osborne’s Travelling Light: Photography, Travel and Visual Culture
Vesna Pavlović’s recent works explore obsolete photographic technology and its objects. Using a large collection of vintage tourism slides, which depict one family’s travels around the world in the 1960s, Pavlović reproduces in print and installation the experience of viewing these slides as a way of confronting photographic representation. The slides, the projectors, the lights, the screens; these reveal the layers that make up the image.
The installation and the prints dissect the idea of an image, and the idea of the image as it is being viewed. In a similar fashion, this archive of travel photography represents a mediation of cultural experience. Tourism of this era came at a time of projection of American power, when travelling to exotic locations was easy. Five decades later these images are what we have left, whose fading colors also represent a fading of the framed experiences in American consciousness.
Yet as the images are fading, revisiting the viewing experience now introduces nostalgia for the past. By transforming the two-dimensional objects into three-dimensional spaces, Pavlović allows for a bodily experience of that nostalgia. Sentimentality operates as an agent to refer to the inevitable shifts in technology, perhaps even to critique our nostalgic view of a bygone era. This is an obsolete technology whose bulkiness serves as a visual and audible reminder that the chance to experience such a naïve experience of the world is long gone. Even so, the graininess and discoloration serve to reveal our former aspirations, and our histories.
Vesna Pavlović (Serbia/US) obtained her MFA degree in visual arts from Columbia University in 2007. She is an Assistant Professor of Art at Vanderbilt University. She has exhibited widely, including solo shows at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Museum of History of Yugoslavia in Belgrade, and the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. Most recently, Pavlović’s work has been featured with a solo presentation at the Untitled, 12th Istanbul Biennial, 2011, and in group exhibitions at the Le Quartier Center for Contemporary Art in Quimper, France (From Closed World to the Infinite Universe), NGBK in Berlin, Germany (Spaceship Yugoslavia, The Suspension of Time), Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade (Conversations), Serbia, Tennis Palace Art Museum in Helsinki, Finland (Situated Self, Confused, Compassionate, Conflictual), Photographers' Gallery in London (Mediterranean, Between Reality and Utopia), Kettle's Yard in Cambridge, UK (Rear View Mirror), and FRAC Center for Contemporary Art in Dunkerque, France (De-Collecting). Pavlović’s Search for Landscapes installation will be on view at the Bucharest Biennale 5 in Romania (Tactics for Here and Now, May 25 - July 22, 2012). Vesna Pavlović is the recipient of the Robert Penn Warren Fellowship at Vanderbilt University, and the City of Copenhagen Artist-in-Residence grant (June 2012).
An essay by Alexandra Schwartz, Curator of Contemporary Art at Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey is forthcoming.