Artist: Renata Poljak
Venue: Kranjcar Gallery, Zagreb
In the exhibition Porvenir or (the) Future, the cutting-edge Croatian artist Renata Poljak continues her parallel researches into visual media and into current issues in sociology that include the phenomenology of migration, the abandonment of the native soil, departure and journeying. Drawing on a family narrative (her great grandfather was forced by poverty to emigrate to Chile), Renata has formed a cycle the backbone of which is constituted by her films as auteur, which are at the same time a point of departure for, and the essence of, the complex unit of an inventive and innovative visual narrative.
Porvenir is the third and for now the last episode of this impressive exhibition cycle that Renata started in 2016 with the work (every exhibition or story is treated as a complete artistivunit of its own) Partenza, followed up by Terra incognita. Like the previous two exhibitions, Porvenir is set up and presented in the Kranjčar Gallery, which is an essential consideration since in her work Renata includes a number of subjects, including the exhibition venue itself, which takes an equal share in the formation of the work of art. The exhibition (the artwork) Porvenir consists not only of the central screening of the film of the same name but also of a neon installation, light boxes, photographic collages and a two-channel video installation; the artistic procedure is just the same as in the two preceding units. Renata is in effect building upon the film, the basic (but also an independent) part of the exhibition, with photographs from the shooting into which she intervenes with a particular collageprocedure. Then she enlarges selected frames from the film, reproduces them and transposes them into other media, at the end supplementing the theme of the film with drawings, installation or text. In this kind of creative procedure, in which the focus is on the interrelations of the different media in variations of the same motif, which come from a common source and have identical origins, the author problematises the nature and very form of the artwork, in other words opens up the possibility for forms outside settled artistic disciplines and a standard kind of context to exist and live, of which she says: I think that everything we see, hear or feel in a gallery or museum space is a complete whole, is in fact, just one work.
The film Porvenir – Future was shot in 2019 in Tierra del Fuego, Chile; the title refers to a town of the same name that was founded at the beginning of the twentieth century by mainly Croatian emigrants (including the artist’s great-grandfather). In the film Partenza the artist’s great-grandmother stands on the strand waiting for a ship with letters from her husband who had set off into the world in the search for a better life. Like many other women, she never saw her man’s return. Porvenir shows us this town in the back of beyond, literally at the end of the world, the majority of the inhabitants of which are the descendants of those Croats who managed to survive. There, in aland where the turbulent sea joins heaven and earth, stands the great granddaughter of the long-ago migrant, watching the ship that comes and goes. The story of migrants continues like a story of metaphor and reality of the promised land. Of the future – porvenir.
From an essay by Mladen Lucić
Renata Poljak (Split, 1974) is a visual artist and filmmaker. She graduated from the Arts Academy in Split, Croatia in 1997 and obtained an MA at École Régionale des Beaux-Arts (Film and Video Department) in Nantes, France in 1999. Her works have been shown at numerous national and international solo and group exhibitions, biennials and film festivals. She received many grants and awards, including the T-HT award – one of the most important contemporary arts awards in Croatia, in 2012. Her residencies include San Francisco Art Institute, Museum Quartier Vienna, Art In General, New York, Cité Internationale des Arts and Recollets in Paris and many others. Her films were screened at the Prospective Cinema at Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, in 2010 and Palais de Tokyo, Paris, in 2012.