Zora Stančič’s work is full of life. Deeply committed to graphics as its basic horizon, it often acts as a very direct reflection of life in its limitations, its fragility, its flaws, its interior and its exterior. Graphics lend themselves directly to these preoccupations, as their process is often similar to the work of a surgeon who cuts into the membrane that separates below and above, that divides the “interior” of life from its “exterior”, making an incision into the thin membrane that guarantees our integrity, our wholeness, in contrast to the uncontrollable exterior to which we are necessarily oriented. It is similar in the case of art, which is always torn between enthusiasm for life and the need to formally condense life into a particular transcendent experience that will articulate its meaning that much more clearly and decisively. Art is torn between its devotion to a multitude of stimuli, of social and cultural experiences, and the need to secure a certain space of freedom from these stimuli while at the same time maintaining a relation to them, the need to establish a certain distance, which is essential for the formation of a perspective.
A certain tower. It is no coincidence that the tower is a popular metaphor used in the parlance of contemporary art to proscribe contemplative detachment from the world and operation beyond its preoccupations. At the same time, this tower is, in a way, the fate of art, insofar as art wants its idea to cut into the surface of the everyday with emphatic sharpness, like a knife cutting into a fresh piece of linoleum. It is in these coordinates that Zora Stančič’s thinking congeals in the exhibition Life in a Tower. The space of the Pentagonal Tower at the Ljubljana Castle, with its visible scars of the centuries, the most foreign architecture to an exhibition of contemporary art, becomes a direct incentive for reflecting on the frameworks of the operation and practice of contemporary art. In the exhibition Life in a Tower, this reflection on frameworks unfolds on three levels: the first addresses the medium of graphics directly, in the materiality of its technical basis; the second engages with art and its (symbolic) coordinates; and the third is concerned with the position of a woman in art, that is, the female artist. These three moments are inextricably linked both in Zora’s work and in the present exhibition.
Reflection on the medium of graphics and its determination by the material conditions of its production gives rise to constant transformations in Zora Stančič’s practice, in a search for ways to reconsider and re-evaluate this determination, in order to imbue graphics with new mental and material latitudes. The question of the relation of graphics to the field of contemporary art, as its immediate context in the exhibition Life in a Tower, forces this reflection about the framework, about our position as a relation to what defines us, to be taken one step further. In the unusual, semi-magical environment of the castle tower, the relationship of art to its immediate framework, the whole of life, is manifested in a different light: as an escape from life’s saturation with everyday stimuli and, at the same time, as a longing for life, as a reservoir of everything that sets art in motion. This brings us to the third dimension of the exhibition, which is subtly suggested by its placement in the castle tower: the image of a woman, of a female artist. Zora Stančič connects to the long history of women imprisoned in a tower, and turns this prison into a room of one’s own, a space of retreat, which is essential in order to establish one’s own rules, beyond the dictates of the currently dominant social (often male) norms. In this way, the artist connects all three dimensions of the exhibition in an emphatic and personal testimony about relocations, about eternal nomadism, about simultaneous devoted belonging and conscious detachment, about the need for a tower and freedom from it.
Exhibition curator: Vladimir Vidmar
The exhibition has been prepared in cooperation with the Ljubljana Fine Artists Society.