Expedition of time, our fixation to innovations, snapping for illusions of progress, and many other things brought us away from the year 1910, when Vasily Kandinsky painted the first abstract painting. Probably, to many people a century seems a lot, but in historian’s eyes, it is a very ordinary century, which is completely equivalent to any other. Uniqueness cannot be given up to any period on the timeline, but we can highlight its features. Our century is marked by dramatic growth in the exploitation of oil, increase in food production, human population and last, but not least, the amount of unprecedented technological breakthroughs.
Today we have the option of recording data in unimaginable quantities and rely more on external memory devices, rather than our own brain. Despite the immense databases, libraries of information, clear reconstruction of the past, assembling the story which we call history, is nothing easier than in the past. In its objectivity, like today we always doubted or believed, even if the history of science for some time tried to interpret the past and proclaim the truth of reality. Something similar happened to photography, which was, and broadly still is an heir of modern naturalisms – a label, derived from Systematics of Style of Izidor Cankar, one of the fathers of Slovenia’s art history, it’s here necessary to take with a hint of irony. It is exactly in the photo that can be clearly seen how the imitation of nature may be subject to manipulation, and at the same time the image does not lose its truthful persuasiveness. Futhermore, the photo showing unusual image features is often what the viewer wonders about how such a thing is possible. It is not about the photographic image itself, but about what an image is supposed to look like. Photographic montage done with old and new technologies, as well as other manipulations that entice the viewer into false belief, has no direct connection with photographs of Romina Dušić, but there is a relationship of her photographs to a critical attitude towards photographic medium. Broaching her relationship to reality and truth, we have to get back to abstract painting. At the outset abstractionists abstained from imaging object motifs. They were declaratively generating pure formalistic value, such as line, color and composition. Images should not represent anything other than themselves. Theo van Doesburg, in his manifesto, proclaimed even that the actual painting must contain no symbolism. Nowadays, it is probably not so difficult to defend the thesis that the meaning is produced in the viewer, who identify symbols in the images; but in 1930 this requirement and the claim had its context and weight. Today this manifesto shows the platforms on which the artists were creating. Their attitude was hard, rigid, warrior-like and reminds even of ideology. The rules then hardwired, today cannot withstand more of their purpose. Modernist movements and styles were for eternal and clear rules of the game. In accordance with these frames were also works of art hermetically projected into eternity.
Gottfried Jäger introduced the term generative photography in the theory of photography in 1968 and carried out the term concrete photography later. This followed the Van Doesburg’s dogmas. As the first such work is perceived Alvin Langdon Coburn’s vortography in 1917. Later his theory included more widely perceived abstraction and techniques of photograms and extremly reduced motifs of architectural photography. If concrete painting at the end failed to abolish symbolism, concrete photography merely came closer to the old ideals. Photographic image is constantly depicting motifs from nature, physis, despite resisting.
Romina Dušić’s photos, which are on display in this exhibition, were taken randomly on trips. The scenes are mere compositions without internal symbolism. Titles given to images by author are either banal or repeat the obvious and are void of clues or confessions, since naming does not affect images. Naming and softened sharpness are key moments in photographs which withdraw narrative and symbolic power from the motif of nature. Although it is still possible to distinguish space, objects and figures, this is not an absent reality. That doesn’t exist for the viewer, but he can create it in his imagination. The scenes are present on the surface of the photo. They are real here and now, when shining into the space towards the viewer.