The newest site- specific installation by Olja Stipanovic; revolves around the fact that her exhibition takes place in a gallery of New York Citys Chelsea art district. Home to the most prestigious art spaces, the opportunity to exhibit at this particular location is widely considered the peak of an artists career. To be in Chelsea is for many an affirmation of accomplishment; an opportunity to be seen by many, to be praised by the professional audiences, and to possibly gain artistic as well as commercial success.
The title of Stipanovics exhibition, Summit, draws a parallel between man conquering nature and an artist seizing the art world. Inspired by mountain films, a film genre that has since the 1920s captured various climbing expeditions under challenging climate conditions and in harsh natural environments, the artist has constructed her own metaphorical mountain to ascent; the wall composition in pyramidal shape consisting of drawings, collages, objects and text. There is a lightheartedness and humor, but also critical analysis in the artists approach to the subject, asserting the contemplation on what really constitutes attainment today, in particular in the contemporary art world driven by multifarious ambitions and actions and often problematic notions of quality and value. Collages made of thorn paper render abstracted imagery of mountains; vintage photographs of mountain climbers and commercial ads featuring snowy hills are appropriated and transformed through scanning, printing, cutting and pasting. The artist inserts her own image in this bountiful composition. Her head is crowned with a laurel wreath, the symbol of victory present in depictions of emperors and artists since the ancient times, and surrounded by text excerpts, both formal and personal, describing the concepts of success and triumph. Summit also features some of Stipanovic;s previously made works, as well as the images hinting to discipline, practice, rules of conduct and achievement, such as the obstacle course outline of an equestrian jumping field. The installation extends to the floor of the gallery, which is dominated by two wooden planks stretching from the entrance to the gallery windows. Formally, these sculptural elements recall minimalist sculpture, guiding the viewers movement and experience of the exhibition space. However, by leaning them against the windows, Stipanovic; brings out their physical instability as a metaphorical ambiguity; does a possible walking the plank of success implies reaching higher grounds, or falling?
Illuminated Metropolis Gallery
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