Ivana Filip: Nature cannot stand the void, and perhaps neither can I
May 27th - June 24th 2022
Nowadays we have more opportunities to get acquainted with the works created from and during the lockdown and inspired by the time marked by the corona-crisis, and this circumstance is something that should not be denied, but it is interesting to observe the ways it affected individual artistic expressions. In the case of Ivana Filip, the starting position is that of questioning, one's own occupation, its meaning, scope and content. When we are limited and closed, who are we? Do limitations give us an opportunity for creativity, for creating the possible from the seemingly impossible?
Equally so, it is questioning of the possibilities of art without resources, caused by a state of not only financial and material constraints, but also physical ones. This is where the question of one's own artistic practice arises, more precisely the direction in which it will develop.
At that moment, Ivana returns to the basics - drawing, however, not as the basis of her practice (because she has never been exclusively involved in drawing), but as the basis of everything we do - sketches, drawings, ideas, which we put on paper to understand all the possibilities of their realization. The very idea of drawings was not created with the exhibition in mind as the ultimate goal, but as an everyday practice, occupation, even a form of meditation, although primarily as a form of labour belonging to an artistic profession. This labour is defined by its beginning and an end, the business hours, which is a truly distant concept in the artistic and cultural sphere in general.
Generating work in this way during pandemic lockdowns and with all the restrictions that came along, meant that every departure from it was a relief, and such liberation came in the form of walks that most often led to the sea. It is in the sea, the deep sea, that Ivana finds motifs for her drawings, sea creatures in fascinating forms that enchant her, which she carefully studies and then changes, taking the much-needed deviation from the rational.
The deep sea is the lowest layer in the ocean into which little or no light penetrates, and most organisms that live there rely for subsistence on falling organic matter produced in the photic zone. For this reason, scientists have long assumed that life at these depths would be sparse, but numerous studies have found that, on the contrary, life is abundant in the deep ocean. Through the eyes of the researcher, artist and child, Ivana thus enters the unknown and insufficiently researched, consciously opening herself to other, unknown beings. It is a return to drawing not only in this time, but also to childhood, a way of unlearning. She begins without a concept and a plan, completely rejecting the rational part that could affect the structure of the work or its composition. Starting from the basics, she limits herself to a free line and a circle as the starting points of drawings. Partly by observation and partly by her own imagination she builds new beings, new non-human animals. These beings are unknown to us, but we can sympathize with them, especially if we take into account the ecological aspect of the pollution of their natural habitat. Ivana also restricts the use of the color, first using only black on white paper and then switching to white. The red color, which she considers the purest of all colors (also in terms of her own relationship to it) and as the middle ground between white and black, appears last.
The second work presented at the exhibition is an earlier one, and includes a series of balls made of dog hair, simply named Unfinished, which refers to the possibility of transformation and continuous becoming, but also the time lag and return to the same material or work. The material is collected from a dog care salon, presenting the waste ("the part that is no longer alive, being dead and at times having bad odor, we feel repulsion towards it"). At the same time, it is part of the still living creature, which in non-Western cultures represents an extremely valuable resource. Reusing the found, organic material that is actually easily accessible and pointing to its potential, Ivana not only practices sustainability in art but also symbolically creates a kind of reminder of the ever-growing number of nameless, abandoned and lost dogs. Unfinished is close to arte povera, the so-called poor art, in which modesty remains the basic starting point from which the work originates, to which an activist note is then attached, although subliminal and almost poetic. Continuously and persistently exploring the implications of our anthropocentric belief systems and re-examining the ways of living and existing, Ivana Filip points to the awareness and acceptance of responsibility and interconnectedness with other beings.
In the new solitude, in which we live without animals, anthropomorphism makes us doubly uneasy; claims John Berger in Why look at animals, a text that will serve as a base for the multimedia workshop which Ivana will lead in the framework of the exhibition and thus expand the field of the exhibition to include others, people and non-humans in co-creation, understanding and coexistence. It is the invitation of this artist to try and experience art as sustainable and symbiotic and the artistic process as holistic, just the way she understands and lives them.
Ivana Filip is Croatia-based artist, activist and researcher. Her practice grows from visual art and stretches through multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary work, across performance, live work, video, photography and mixed media. Her work has developed from body-based to movement and interspecies collaboration including performances with dogs and their human companions, dog hair tapestry and research with free-roaming cats. In the last few years, Ivana’s quest has been human-nonhuman relationships and more-than-human creativity. To achieve these she uses many tools from anthrozoology, ethology, anthropology, animal studies, sociology, spirituality, activism, indigenous methodologies, ecofeminism and personal experiences. Ivana earned her Master of Economics at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb, Master of Arts at the Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts in Tilburg and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. Her work has been shown locally, nationally and internationally, in non-profit spaces, libraries, symposiums, galleries and museums.
The exhibition is part of the programme Rituals, by Culture Hub Croatia in 2022 as part of the creative hub Prostor. The program is co-financed by the Kultura nova Foundation and the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia.
Curator: Jasmina Šarić
Technical setup: Marino Vukasović
Organization: Platform “Culture Hub Croatia”
Photos: Mateja Črnko & CHC