A monument to Slovenia’s complex history, Ljubljana castle occupies the highest point in the country’s capital city. From regal medieval residence to an Austrian prison, from low-income tenement housing to its current position as a thriving cultural center, the castle has undergone nearly as many changes as the people for whom it was built. In its most recent incarnation, Ljubljana castle invites tourists and history enthusiasts alike to enter its walls, into its towers and beneath its depths to view exhibitions of contemporary art.
A frequent exhibitor within Ljubljana Castle, and creator of one of its only permanent installations (Fluid, 1999), Tanja Pak is set to opened her sixth solo show there this past Wednesday, December 21, where she debuted two large-scale spatial installations, Within (2011) and Pointe (2011). Nearly one year ago, she was setting up A Moment After (2010) and Always (2010) in these same spaces, sculpting glass, bending light, and employing the compositions of composer Arvo Part to set the watery scene.
Pak’s newest work mixes wood and glass in service of abstract installations that engage philosophical concepts of the infinite, dreaming, and recollections of place.
“I am interpreting a detail of [Gaston] Bachelard‘s vastness,” writes Pak in a description of her latest exhibition. The less philosophically minded may not be wont to dissect Bachelard’s meaning when he wrote, “Infinity is the movement of motionless man. Infinity is one of the dynamic properties of peaceful dreaming,” yet Pak renders a successful translation of lofty philosophical concepts out of wood and glass in the form of 32 trees standing over 13 feet for Within. The effect is that of an icy, whimsical forest, and a departure from Pak’s fascination with the shape-shifting nature of water and light.
In a review of Fluid for the Winter 2006-2007 edition of the Winter 2006-07 issue of GLASS (#105), Gediminas Gasparavicius notes Pak’s penchant to deconstruct the nature of her surroundings. Continually inspired by omnipresent phenomena both grand and subtle such as water, breath, and infinite space, the ancient castle lends itself to the artist’s aesthetic propensities. Writes Gasparavicius, “This iconic castle is permeated with a sense of belonging to the rock it is built from and is standing on, rather than belonging to the nation and the society that built it. The building bears the marks not only of the historic past, but also of the very matter it is constructed from.” Pak’s installations are often literal depictions of water dropping, trees growing or stalagmites forming in a highly structured setting, yet they reveal something organic about the existence of beauty before civilisation. She builds upon the stone that comprises Slovenia’s foremost tourist attraction, yet the result is that the edifice of progress is removed.
Many of Pak’s installations utilize multi-media elements, and her most recent are no exception. She has chosen to once again collaborate with Strle Svetila on the lighting for the pieces, and is employing Bach’s Cello Suites No. 2 and 5 performed by Igor Mitrovič for her soundscape. Sound direction for the installation is managed by Vojko Sfiligoj.
IF YOU GO:WITHIN (I held my breath but the world kept on dreaming) Ljubljana Castle, Casement Through June 3rd, 2012 “POINTE” Ljubljana Castle, Pentagonal Tower Through July 1st, 2012 Ljubljana Castle Slovenia