SCULPTURE IN THE ONLINE FORMAT
Guides for Movement / experiential online exhibition
The author of the concept and the works: Marina Bauer
The authors and guides of the online encounters: Marina Bauer and Zrinka Šimičić Mihanović
Two series of five encounters took place in May and June 2021.
The lack of physical contact, being stuck in one place for too long and not being able to travel freely last year have impoverished our experience and numbed our attention. Condemned to online communication, we are gradually losing the feeling of reality and actual presence, whereas the playfulness that enables relief and optimism is now disappearing under the pressure of pandemic anxiety.
The experiential exhibition Guides for Movement is based on online encounters guided by the authors, enabling participants to create the physical experience of the exhibition in their own home and restoring the feeling of presence, embodiment and connectedness.
The exhibition explores some of the fundamental features and terms in sculpture: three-dimensionality, materiality, body, space, tactility, installation art, performance, object. It generates new experiences in the limited and familiar environment of one own home.
During the encounters the participants were invited to recognize the sculptural qualities and reshape the objects and spaces in their own home by sharpening their perception and focusing their attention on their body, touch and movement. Through changes in views and by establishing physical relationships the participants created new “landscapes”, new situations and new experiences.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia.
Sculpture in the Online Format / Guides for movement
As a part of the project titled Sculpture in the Online Format by the academic sculptor Marina Bauer in cooperation with dance artist and somatic practicioner Zrinka Šimičić Mihanović, this website is dedicated to the documentary, visual reconstruction of the experiential exhibition Guides for movement. This exhibition was held in the form of online encounters dedicated to the exploration of bodily and kinaesthetic perception with an emphasis on procedural aspects of creating and recognising potential sculptural relationships within one’s apartment.
The performance is conceived as the materialisation of the internal motivation of the body, form as experiential fluidity, authorship as a collective construction of participation, and sculpture as a multimodal perceptual event.
The academic sculptor Marina Bauer researches the topic of tactility and embodied experience in both her artistic work and doctoral research. She taught sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (2002 – 2016) where as an external associate she currently teaches the course “Introduction to the Psychology of Art“(since 2016).
“If I were not a sculptor, I would be a dancer.” Marina Bauer
Deviation from the formal sculptural representation
Some of the most far-reaching implications by which the globalised digital social climate also modulates the sculptural discourse in the 21st century refer to the understanding of the concepts of manifestation, presence and observation. Many academic sculptors are happy to replace their original artistic determinant with the label of a visual artist – a generic label of contemporary heterogeneity, predisposed to denote a whole spectrum of new creative challenges, a wide range and variations of intermedial and interdisciplinary relationships that one can come across as the results of contemporary explorations of digital production possibilities or introduction of VR technologies in the field of art.
At the same time, the domination of visuality and visual experience of the world creates the conditions for the evident hypostasis of interest in the body, due to which, according to the American performance theorist Bonnie Marranca, art and culture nowadays lean towards performance as a new artistic and social paradigm.
Body seen not only as a visual or material object but also as a place of experience is indeed the central theme that frames the reflections on the experience of the world, the theme around which cultural assumptions and individual psychophysical conditions have enough dilemmas for long-term negotiations. Dilemmas on the share of the experiential body in the construction of the self intertwine the areas of contemporary art of performance and sculpture, and in the case of her project, the academic sculptor Marina Bauer does not deal as much with the issue of representation as they do with mediation.
Even if formal academic education obliges one to consider academic premises or attitudes towards historical sculptural themes, in Marina Bauer’s opus it is evident that she is not interested in cultural dialogues on art history, referentiality or quotation, transformations of the well-known and recognised motifs, the transformation of commonplaces of sculptural themes or dialogue with an informed observer. She is focused on the possibility of creating an expanded playful sculptural event (being). She occupies herself with a methodological creation of the most direct access to the exhibited object as a cause for the encounter, and not the result, finding conditions for the perceptual, tactile and kinesthetic event to happen around it. She exhibited a sandbox (Memories II, 2004), engraved tiles with the text of letters (Portrait, 2006), an object with drawers full of various contents (Delving, 2019).
When considering the relationship between space and volume, Marina has often thematised empty space, offering a view from within. She exhibited the inside of pedestals (Introverts, 2015) and boxes (Encounter With Ourselves, 2016) intended to accommodate people, by which she described the psychological characteristics of the physical component of space through the experiences of the interior, i.e. hidden space. Of that unknown place within ourselves.
Research movement through the state of presence
The exploration of different aspects of manifestation, presence and observation, but precisely those that are not embedded in the context of visuality but in the context of the plasticity or the experience of three-dimensionality, are the main preoccupation in Marina Bauer’s work. Since her first appearances at exhibitions, Bauer has been introducing a specific attitude towards the construction of work into the context of sculpture, forming thus an authorial position as a propositional principle by which she invites the audience to participate and complete, actualise and confirm her work through their participation in the completion of realisation of the research, i.e. performative characteristics.
The artistic expression is accompanied by several diverse directions of interest, ranging from exploring the psychological dimension of art at the level of questioning how perception works in a spectrum of automated, unconscious experiences to analysing experiential layers that are usually not in the focus of conscious analysis, such as nonvisual, tactile or kinaesthetic experience. Performative elements that we find in self-initiated works are mostly not meant for the mass public, but for individual visitors, and such is the body that the artist deals with in the concepts of her works. It is one’s own and someone else’s (borrowed from visitors), but it is always individual and concrete, unrepresented and therefore culturally unmarked and unidentified, but it is present, which means intuitive, aware of the need for movement, impregnated with the experience of its own embodiment.
The co-creator and Marina’s performing partner in these encounters, Zrinka Šimičić Mihanović, performer, choreographer and dance educator, an assistant at the Dance Department of the Academy of Dramatic Arts, and a certified somatic practitioner, is engaged in the exploration of a living body (soma) as a complex experiential medium. As an artist, she sees great transformative potential in somatic work from which its social and political influences arise because somatic interest is focused on the body from within, for the processes that shape it in order to consciously change and moderate how we interact with the outside world. When structuring artworks, she is not interested in representation, but primarily in the possibilities of establishing interdisciplinary dialogues and exchanges with the audience, which she has been exploring for the past fifteen years through the Improspections festival, recently also through the SomaHut platform. The collaboration between the two artists began on a joint project Performance to Be Touched (2019) for which Marina created a series of installations titled Bodily Encounters, eight wire outlines of moving figures. This work was the result of a number of ideas and sketches for passages that shape movement, as moulds for movement so that the visitors would spontaneously activate their own bodily instincts to explore their surroundings and connect with them.
This series of online experiential encounters builds on the previously defined goals to gather a community of individuals for the purpose of research and experimental content, formed around a common, and yet very personal experience within which there is now also a digital formulation of the scopic field. In one’s own apartment, in the company of complete strangers from geographically remote positions. It is limited by the size of the screen, static, and sometimes even frozen, it is easy to slip out of it, insight is fragmented, but this, of course, is not a hindering circumstance. What a camera visually registers is not the key to recognising the content, the crucial activity happens within the body and each person will later tell their experience…share the photographs of their work. However, the configuration of the scopic field is a crucial element to which Marina pays attention in her works, because she counts on the action of mirror neurons, due to which people intuitively move even when watching certain actions.
The visual manifestation of the body, the internal experiences of its presence and mutual observation and sharing of experiences by expressing the impressions about the encounter are the elements with which all the participants jointly build a heterogeneous virtual space of a collectively created experience. This method of moderating through the medley of everyday and peripheral moves towards artistic experience in the field of raising awareness about the reflexive, reacting mechanism of the body. This method could also be seen as a critique of the idea of the undisputed integrity of the subject because it raises awareness of the process of constant self-construction through testing changeable relationships for which the key word is co-action, as well as the psychological competence of making contact.
 If I Were Not a Sculptor, I Would Be a Dancer, interview with Jasmina Fučkan. Website of the Plesna scena.hr portal, 12 February 2020. http://www.plesnascena.hr/index.php?p=article&id=2412