Elena Štrok: Baby Universe
September 10th - October 8th 2021
Perceivance of life resembles wandering through a silent winter forest pervaded with a soft, barely perceptible fog. In the forest, we run into figures speaking of the adventures of their previous springs, summers and autumns, all of them having happened in the same place. Each of them tells their own story, yet the forest and events are, objectively speaking, the same. As Joseph Campbell states, all great stories are, in fact, variations of a single story narrated by different characters, at a different time in a different way. The truth is essentially unambiguous and immutable.
In one of his interviews, Campbell mentions that due to the nature of cultural and temporal settings we live in, a man no longer manages to create widely accepted mythological structures and archetypes for the development of an individual and concludes that the only solution is to create a mythological space on our own. The concept of an idol is necessary in the comparison, which helps us to build our identity. Heroes and idols are an embodiment of ideals admired by a particular culture and the need for them has never faded away, but has nowadays switched to bright screens, either in the form of (fictive) film characters and games or in the form of celebrities. Science has also taken the role of a mythological space to a great extent, which automatically changes the way a man perceives themself. The same concept is accepted by an astrophysicist Joseph Silk, referring to the chapter Cosmologists and their Myths from his book Cosmic enigmas: ''In many respects, the Big Bang is to modern cosmology what mythology was to the ancients.''
A performative epic fairytale Baby Universe is based on the foundations of ancient ideals, embodied through a simple story in figures of planets faced with the threat of their own mortality. The generally almighty gods / planets found themselves in a situation that they no longer have absolute control, regardless of their martial, thoughtful and other skills. The instinct in each of them arouses the weaknesses they normally effortlessly control. The solution is brought by Pluto, the deity to whom death is not an unknown term, and in whose words a tranquil thought which encloses the analysis. The final outcome remains unknown.
The work symbolically foreshadows the equilibration of opposites, reconciliation of archetypes, appreciation and calibration necessary to all of us at a certain point. Returning to ''their homes'', all of the planets will draw from Pluto’s words what they wish and are able to. With a dash of humour, Baby Universe becomes a memento mori, with an emphasis on a positive, not so burdened perception of mortality.
''Nagual Julian used to tell me (…) about great conquerors, military leaders from ancient Rome. Upon their return to Rome, the citizens greeted them with great triumphal celebrations held in their honour. Showing the treasure they took and people they enslaved, the celebrants were driven around standing on their chariots. Next to them, a slave was riding a horse, with a single task of whispering to them that glory and fame were transient.''
After graduating from gymnasium and secondary music school in Varaždin as a musician guitarist, Elena Štrok (b. 1996., Varaždin) also completed the undergraduate study programme in graphic arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, with a special Magna cum laude honor award, where she is currently completing graduate programme in prof. Mirjana Vodopija's class. She has participated in international and local projects in fields of visual arts, music and performance. So far, she has exhibited and performed in Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Greece and Portugal. In 2019, within the Erasmus+ student exchange project, she spent the final semester of her BA studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in the class of prof. Pavla Scerankova and prof. Dušan Zahoranski. Afterwards she participated in an Erasmus + internship in the residential house for artists De Liceiras 18 in Porto, Portugal. Along with a few colleagues, she took part in the establishment of Eklipsefemero cultural organization, which aims to achieve an international promotion, connection and networking among artists and the organization of cultural events. In her work, she aspires to bring art and philosophy closer to people in both public and institutional frameworks by using narration as her main medium of expression.