Tonka Maleković: Analogue (City) in Vienna

ArtPoint Gallery
Universitatsstrasse 5
1010 Vienna

March 10-31 2010

http://www.kulturkontakt.or.at/page.aspx?target=265193

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In her video installation Analogue (City) consisting of a series of TV screens showing the subway, Tonka Malekovic focuses on a communication vein of Vienna. Her work refers directly to the concept of perception of space questioning “What is the real space?”

Installation consists of 11 TV screens that show dynamic and alternating video display shot in a subway in Vienna. In addition, Tonka exhibits 11 black and white photographs, which  simplify the real space bringing it to the level of a “stain”.

Tonka Malekovic exhibits together with Dalibor Nikolić and Velimir Zernovski in the framework of the KulturKontakt artist in residency program.

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In my work I always depart from the given conditions and context, and from a personal response when coming to a site. I try then to extract these specificities and use them in a wider context for my concept.

One of the given conditions when coming to the residency to Vienna was the fact that it is a winter period. That is why I decided to use snow as one of the elements in formulating the idea.

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Another element is space of the subway net. Until now, while working, I was always exploring cities by driving on a bicycle or by walking, i.e. moving physically through its streets and sites, creating one continuous mental map in my mind, positioning specific sceneries into it. In this case, the first mental map of the city drawn in my mind was the one of the underground tunnels, passages, escalators and elevators. Above this concrete and clear space structure, dispersed fragments of the city-sites floated, and I was trying to attach them to a particular U-exit and to mentally re-create possible geographical connections between them.

These parallel, upper and lower spaces are two spaces with completely different psychological and sensual impact. A question which arose was: how the paths of our moving and our body-performances in public space influence our perception of it and our relation towards it?

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Everywhere in modern countries there is an attempt to segregate space and to establish clear movement and flow of people in public space, the accent is on functionality and clear, closed boundaries, internal homogeneity and orders. For Richard Sennett, the spatial purification of disorder and difference in urban planning and renewal programs has important psychological and behavioral consequences. He writes: “Disorderly, painful events in the city are worth encountering, because they force us to engage with “otherness”, to go beyond one’s own defined boundaries of self, and are thus central to civilized and civilizing social life.”[1]

In his essay “The Culture of the Indian Street” Tim Edensor, through comparison of an Indian and a “Western” street, points to the processes of erasing many social, sensual and rhythmical diversities in urban space of the West. He emphasizes the importance of sensual experience in public space; “ Material spaces provoke specific forms of experience and sensitiveness..” “Unpredictable set of different static and moving elements creates surprising and unique sceneries.” [2]

Aren’t landscapes of sound, smells, different tactile sensations which disrupt concentrated viewing, textures that one might touch or walk on, atmospheric conditions, other bodies which could cross our way or maybe even to change direction of our moving, small agents in the maintaining of our awareness and sensitivity for the reality and the wider context we are living in?

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What is happening with our perception of the space/place in a traditional sense (streets, squares etc as places of difference, encountering, detouring, interfering, a dialogue..), furthermore with our awareness of terms such as: «public», «political», «social», «togetherness», “participation” etc., while we everyday move through purified shortcuts and isolated traffic corridors/non-places[3], cleaned from contents which could interrupt (but also shift!) our attention or focus and direction of moving?

Tonka Maleković


[1] R. Sennett, (1994) Flash and Stone, Faber, London

[2] T. Edensor (1998), The Culture of the Indian Street, in N. Fyfe (ed) Image od the Street.

[3] Marc Augé coined the phrase “non-place” to refer to places of transience that do not hold enough significance to be regarded as “places”. According to Auge, they do not have a context, history and do not deal with identity.  Auge (1995), Non-places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity.

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