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Renata Poljak at Stephan Stoyanov Gallery
Stephan Stoyanov Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Uncertain Memories, the first solo exhibition at the gallery by the Zagreb, Croatia-based artist Renata Poljak. The exhibition presents the artist's works in video, photography and film made between 2007 and 2012, including here acclaimed multimedia series Staging Actors/ Staging Beliefs (2001/2012). The exhibition is curated by Zeljka Himbele.
The title of the exhibition underlines continuous thread in Renata Poljak's work- preoccupation with how ideologies and political agendas are being formed and disseminated, and how memory and history are constructed and recorded. The artist starts with her personal experiences, often portraying contemporary society of her home country of Croatia- however, the works resonate on much wider scale.
In Staging Actors/ Staging Beliefs, the artist uses different media to investigate two iconic films of Yugoslav cinematography: Bosko Buha (1978) and Train in the Snow (1976). Through their continuous screenings both in theaters and on the national television, the communist ideology and belief in socialist system were extensively spread and influenced generations of people. Poljak examines what is currently happening to the actors who took main roles in these once popular films, and accordingly, how the Yugoslav political, social and cultural agendas transformed and mutated since the early 1990's when Yugoslavia disintegrated and Croatia (one of the former Yugoslav States) gained its independence. The work can also be read as a general homage to all public personas, once embodying grand ideals, to be eventually forgotten and removed from collective memory.
In Poljak's most recent work, a photograph titled Uncertain Memories: This is not me, 2012, the history of cinema is again both a resource and a motif. The artist appropriates a frozen frame from Andrei Tarkovsky's documentary Voyage in Time (1983), made during the director's research trip through Italy for his famous feature film Nostalgia, to contemplate on entanglement of real and fictional in her investigation of remembering and identity. Finally, the video installation Ruta and the Monument, 2007, a work conceived during Poljak's stay in the city of Berlin, juxtaposes two videos- completely different readings of the Holocaust- in order to speak about malleability of interpretations of the past through the present.
About the Artist:
Born in 1974, Renata Poljak grew up and graduated from the School of Fine Arts in Split and later spent a year in post-graduation (international post diploma) at the Ecole Régionale des Beaux-Arts in Nantes, France. In 2002 she was a visiting artist at San Francisco Art Institute, and in 2008 she has been selected for Art In General residency program in New York. Renata's work has been exhibited widely, through solo or group shows, biennials and film festivals. She received several awards, among them The Golden Black Box Award at the Black Box Festival in Berlin in 2006, and the T-HT award- one of the most important contemporary art awards in Croatia, in 2012. In 2010 her films were shown in Prospective Cinema (Prospectif Cinéma) in Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. She also participated at Paris Photo 2010 exhibit at the Carrousel du Louvre, while in October 2012 a selection of her films was on view in Palais de Tokyo, Paris.