There is an almost incomprehensible disparity between the significance of the work of Duba Sambolec, who has been expanding the field of sculpture and conception of art since the second half of the 1970s, and the frequency of the presentation of her works in Slovenia. The last major exhibition of this versatile artist working in sculpture, installation, video, performance, drawing and photography was at the City of Women international festival in Ljubljana in 2000. The exhibition Situation Report, which is co-produced by the Škuc Gallery and the Center for Contemporary Arts, Celeia Celje Institute, is an opportunity to see a vast selection of her works after over a decade.
Situation Report in Ljubljana and Celje, (an exhibition in HDLU – Croatian Association of Visual Artists and PM Gallery in Zagreb is also under preparation), presents different segments of the artist’s work. The exhibition in the Škuc Gallery in Ljubljana will feature a selection of sculptures and drawings created between 2010 and 2011, while in March and April, also works in other media will be presented in the Gallery of Contemporary Art and the Likovni Salon Gallery in Celje.
What does Duba Sambolec report on? The title seems at first to refer to the presentation of works created in recent years, but such a quick explanation does not suffice with an artist like Sambolec. The works are materialized reports, a balance sheet, of the artist’s existence, her time, and surrounding society. Naturally, the report is not neutral, objective or distanced, but engaged, critical, (self-)reflective, physical and poetic.
In her drawings, Duba Sambolec responds to the current political, economic and social situation, deconstructs gender identities, surveys natural phenomena and disasters, and questions the status quo and social passivity, while confronting the viewer with philosophical questions about human existence and the role of art. A number of the drawings, (only a segment is presented in the Škuc Gallery), concern the almost unavoidable need for constant reflection and positioning by an artist or individual vis-à-vis complex contemporary issues and life.
Re-think, re-do, re-start – these were among the first words with which Duba Sambolec began talking about her work at our recent meeting. Her political and self-reflective works are intense and concentrated, yet they prompt many free associations, creating the impression of mental, linguistic or pictorial rebuses of some kind. Because of their different textures and materials, the drawings in some cases are tactile, sensual and ephemeral, while others are ascetic, minimalist and even manifesto-like.
While the drawings confront the spectator with the social reality of living here and now, and the artist’s ensuing critical response to it, the sculptures raise issues connected with the artist’s own identity that is never uniform or stable, but flows between different anchor points: gender identity, family genealogy, (cultural) place, and art.
The sculptures are autonomous pieces. However, their narratives establish a specific relational network and are inscribed in the titles that function as the keys for decoding the works: Balkans on My Mind, Temporary, Half Volume Hanging, Lug-gage and This & That/Unplugged. The narratives are further stressed by their forms and materials, (silicone rubber, horsehair, LED lights, metal, ready-made, PVC foil, wood, neon lamps, fabric, bitumen, bricks, wheels, etc.), and their arrangement and combinations. They often have contrasting effects: cold, rational and soft, sensual; attractive and repulsive; cheap and epic, etc., which only adds to the dimensions of their meaning. In accordance with the instability of objects, the differing meanings and the relationship between the pieces, the sculptures reveal identity as multilayered, hybrid, and unstable.
Curated by: Urška Jurman
Co-producer: Center for Contemporary Arts Celje
Supported by: OCA – Office for Contemporary Art Norway International Support Grant
Sponsored by: Dobravc Transport d.o.o.