Alen Ožbolt: The Paper Teaches Me II (Love Letters)
Paper installation, 2007
The installation UČI ME PAPIR (THE PAPER TEACHES ME) II (the first “communicational” or gallery project of this name was carried out in the entrance hall of the Faculty of Education in 2004) relates to various earlier works, all of which have, as a common element, connections and overlappings between the verbal and the visual, as well as their mutual interchange. This is true especially of letters – various letters that were mailed between 1996 and 2004 using the kind of post that today is considered a “classic” if not almost “antiquated” mode of delivery. The letters were designed, developed and interpreted in very different ways – for example, the absent message, verbally or textually empty, which takes the form of various kinds of embossing and/or cut-out paper, or messages in which, on the contrary, the word is emphasised, although this is the disjoined word, cut out of a text and isolated. Nevertheless, the word (in yet another kind of letter) can become an extremely personal text.
In all these different cases, the common and primary element is “the materiality of the form” – that is to say, the ability to be held in the hand – the material immediacy of the message and, of course, the very simple and today almost “primitive” communicative form: the letter sent by “classic” post. In the new installation, these various kinds of letters will serve as the basic components of much larger realised works and installations.
Before today’s modern communication methods and media, our contemporary conveyers of “word and image”, paper was the privileged vehicle of information and was, in the not-so-distant past, the primary, most widespread vehicle for texts and pictures as well. This meant that it was also the primary vehicle/mediator of instruction, knowledge, culture, manners and politics, and so was also what ordered the desires, relationships, social rules, and economies of life between people. Where paper is in general circulation, weapons usually are not. Paper must bear the whole of this great burden, and yet one might say that in a certain way it is, “at heart”, basically empty. Word and image – visual and/or verbal language – are what inscribe themselves in this emptiness and fill it.
Some brief information about previous textual/visual works.
In these works, I approach word and image in ways that can be either very broad or very narrow: I may write, display or investigate various aspects of either one or the other, each of them separately, or both together. In my visual texts, I am especially interested in the relationship “image–word–text”, the relations and various connections between the sign and its meaning, word-images and “word silences”, polysemic and contradictory readings, “anti-reading”, “non-reading” and babbling. The verbal–visual works ČRKE IN BESEDE IN STAVKI (LETTERS AND WORDS AND SENTENCES), 2001/2003 (660 bottles with text); IMP–EXP, 1999/2003 (printed cardboard boxes); DARILA/GIFTS, 1998/2000 (mixed technique on gift boxes or cardboard boxes); and ARTVENTURES&ARTERTAINMENT (DICTIONARY FOR YOUNG ARTISTS) are merely the last in an extended series of “visual words and texts”, a series that includes BESEDA–SLIKA (WORD–IMAGE), 1988–1989; IGRA BESED (WORDPLAY), 1989–1991; NE, VSSD NE! (NO, NOT VSSD!), 1990); BESEDNA VOJNA (WAR WITH WORDS), 1991; and NJIHOVI (MRTVI) GLASOVI (Their [Dead] Voices), 1991. Along with exhibitions and projects featuring the always-present “artist’s statement” or “words from the artist” – and in addition to the parallel “addresses and letters” (VABIM TE [I INVITE YOU], 1989 and 1991; TI, TEBE, TEBI [YOU, OF YOU, TO YOU], 1990; RAZREZANO PISMO [CUT-UP LETTER], 1996; PISMO I. [LETTER I], 1998; SLEPO PISMO II. [BLIND LETTER II], 2000; LOVE LETTER, 2000; POZDRAVI IZ LJUBLJANE [GREETINGS FROM LJUBLJANA], 1997/2002) – these verbal–visual works were presented in the exhibition Pisma / Letters at the Bežigrad Gallery (2003) and the exhibition Umetnost po pošti (Art via Mail) at the Kibla Gallery (2004).
Most of the earlier writings, statements, texts and verbal–visual works were collected in the book Beseda slike (1984–1995) (The Word of the Painting [1984–1995]) and presented at the “black-and-white” exhibition VSSD v besedi (VSSD in Words) in 1997.
Production: MMC Kibla
Studied at Fine Art Academies in Zagreb and Ljubljana and was visiting artist at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). In the years 1984−1995, performed within the artistic group Do You Painter Know Your Dues (VSSD). Has been working independently since 1996. Realised numerous diversified art projects and exhibitions at home and abroad. Received various art scholarships (Fulbright Scholarship at the Institute of International Education in New York, SCCA – Soros Center for Contemporary Art in Ljubljana, Art Scholarship of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia) and participated in Artist in Residence programmes (StudioProgram ACC Gallery, Weimar; ArtsLink, CEC International Partners, New York; Studio New York, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia). In 2003, received the Prešeren Fund Award. Published several authorial 'visual essays', brief articles and some longer theoretic discourses on art, art spaces and phenomena (art catalogues, magazines: Mladina, Rival, Eseji, Problemi, M’Ars, Maska, Likovne besede, PlatformaScca, Delo Saturday Supplement). In the years 1996−1997, prepared, selected and published a book of art statements, texts and visual texts entitled The Word of Painting (VSSD in Words) at Analecta Publishing Collection. In 2006, published the book of an artist entitled Love Is a Battlefield, together with Žiga Kariž and Primož Čučnik, at Šerpa Publishing Collection. In 2007, issued VSSD − 20 Years Before at Škuc Gallery, and in 2010 the book Ensembles − Three-Dimensional Rebuses / A Stone in the Sky at the Sculpture Association.
Artist's web page: Alen Ožbolt