The SKLOP Assosiation marks the beginning of its work with a solo exhibition of the artist Nina Komel (*1986, Slavonski Brod/HR). Komel is the winner of The Zvono Award 2016 and, at the exhibition at SKLOP, she presented works that deal with the themes of borders and identity. The work raises the issue of visibility and invisibility of certain structures within the socio-political system, and art itself, and reviews her own identity, of both an artist and observer. Four works of art are presented at the exhibition. Three of the four works are installations in space, created in the last four years, while one work presents a casting which includes sound and which was created last year during Komels residency in New York which was a part of the Zvono Award. Nina Komels artistic work is generally characterized by a conceptual approach, reviewing current and relevant socio-political events and circumstances, as well as the formulation of critical questions that require active participation of observers.
Was ist Princip? (2014) / (What is Princip? (2014)), the installation in the form of an oversized mousetrap, after which the exhibition is named, refers to one of the most important events in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe and around the world, and it is the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo in 1914. Although the outbreak of the First World War was preceded by a series of events and the assassination was quot;justquot; a climax, in history books, it was written about it a lot more than about the very causes, ie. economic, military and geo-strategic interests of the great powers. Thus, the assassination is an example of how a single event can obscure a much more complex international situation and thereby simplifyand reduce a complete picture of the historical truth to just one spectacular event. Komel in this regard draws parallels with our time, pointing to the very principle of writing, manipulation and perception of historical narratives. Was ist Princip? asks who, from whose perspective, in which time and with what intention formulates one particular narrative in a way that it happens to be (formulated). The mousetrap also implies that all of us have a tendency towards and are prone to falling under the influence of certain narratives and that they are to a certain extent, despite all the historical facts on which they are built, also constructs for achieving personal interests and power.
Kada je koncept pod upitnikom, iskoristi prvu pomoć (2012) / (When there is a question mark over a concept, use first aid (2012)) consists of 52 wooden cubes – 51 black and one white -which are arranged in space in the form of a map of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Each of the black cubes is labelled with an adjective which describes current and general situation in BiH according to the artist. Lethargic, simple, static, black, limited, banal, uninteresting, conceptual are just some of the assumptions and interpretations. Especially the word quot;conceptualquot; examines how and under what circumstances the idea and the concept of the Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina, that is based on the principle of territorial and ethnic division, came into existence and how natural such a concept of the state is and how much constructed and imposed and how much by the constituent peoples, and how much by the external factors, i.e.the International Community which is symbolically represented by the white cube with the red cross – a symbol of first aid in emergencies.
It is the absurdity and unstable situation of Bosnia and Herzegovia in the last 20 years that work Intermezzo (2016) points at. A small sculptured object cast in the form of an artists ear, naturally characterized by a small anomaly, for the artist symbolically represents the abnormality of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is a unique precedent in the history of the formation of the state on the European model, and the fact that it is not designed to protect the rights and equality of all citizens, but rather to protect the interests of individual constituent peoples who together prevent and hinder the development of common interests and thus potentiate the stagnation. If you lean your ear to the sculpture, whose name Intermezzo is a concept that in theory of music relates to the pre- or interlude between two main acts, you can hear the anthem of Bosnia and Herzegovina quietly playing. Komel thus indicates a conceptual interspace and in between time, the status quo, in which BiH is and thus ironically suggests the fact that the national anthem lacking lyrics is not the only thing which makes BiH incomplete.
The work in the last room of the exhibition space called Ambush (2013) consists of nearly 200 video cameras which are distributed on a wall in the form of the word quot;ambushquot;.The ambush is the long-established war tactic in which the forces that make ambush conceal themselves in order to attack the passing enemy. Discomfort that occurs when exposed to such a large number of cameras inevitably provokes a sense of caution and fear, which precisely comes from not knowing whether and from which side the room is monitored. Komel thus deliberately creates an atmosphere of latent threat and uncertainty, for which observers automatically change the perception of the situation as well as their behavior.
The artist thus transfers and depicts tactics of manipulation in the exhibition space and leaves the audience in doubt whether and from which side exactly the danger lurks. The characteristic of Nina Komels work is that it does not prepare answers, but raises theses and issues, and perhaps most importantly, offers free space for reflection to those who engage in it, which Komel makes easier through a suggestive setting that causes physical and emotional reaction. Thus Komel deliberately irritates the viewer and activates his or her understanding and at the same time examines how art itself can affect awareness and create opinion of male and female citizens.