Traces of disappearing – in Three Acts: Igor Grubic

Traces of disappearing – in Three Acts: Igor Grubic

Traces of disappearing – in Three Acts (2006-19) is an extensive photographic essay by the artist, filmmaker and activist Igor Grubić. Presented this year in the Croatian Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 58 in Venice, this body of work documents the political, economic and social transformation of a nation over thirteen years. 

Act One: Wild house considers the lives of those living on the margins. Grubić’s poetic eye catches the small embellishments on makeshift dwellings and brings into focus the inhabitants’ desire for order and beauty in their everyday lives. This is a Croatia transitioning from socialism through war to independence – a time when the collapse of existing economic structures heavily impacted on employment. 

In the second act Filigree, Grubić supports his images of traditional shops – barber, tailor, carpenter and idol maker – with nostalgic narratives. As well as having been sites of quotidian creativity, these disappearing city spaces were once significant social hubs. Now with economic globalisation and geographic gentrification the local people and culture have been displaced and replaced.  

For the final act Factory, the artist continues to populate his images of empty architectural and urban spaces with ghostly narratives. These desolate factories echo with the noise of industrial machines and the efficiencies of collective labour, which preceded their destruction as the socialist infrastructure was dismantled. Grubić uses light, reflections and the disrepair of his mise-en-scène to ignite the viewers’ imagination, which he then reanimates in How Steel was Tempered. The artist’s creative gesture in the last image Old Factory New Capital holds a glimmer of hope, and the possibility of redemption.

Allison Holland

Exhibition Details
ACP Project Space Gallery, 1 November – 7 December 2019

All Installation views taken at ACP Project Space gallery, November 2019. Courtesy of ACP and Michael Waite

About the Artist

Since the early 1990s Igor Grubić has been active as a cross-media artist, working with photography, moving image, and site-specific actions. From historical monuments to abandoned industrial interiors, his micro-political interventions in public spaces around Zagreb, Croatia, reposition the past in light of the current issues. Compiling his documentation of people and places as an ongoing project, Grubić use of socio-political framework is based on his grassroots approach and intimate connection to minority communities.

Selective major exhibitions in which Grubić has participated include: International Contemporary Art Biannual 2, Tirana, Albania (2003); Manifesta 4, Frankfurt, Germany (2002); Manifesta 9, Genk, Belgium (2012); October Salon 50, Belgrade, Serbia (2009); Gender Check, MuMOK, Vienna, Austria (2009); Istanbul Biennial 11, Istanbul, Turkey (2009); Fotofestival Mannheim Ludwigshafen 4, Heidelberg, Germany (2011); East Side Stories, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2012); Flowers of May, Gwangju Museum of Art, Gwangju, South Korea (2010); Zero Tolerance, MOMA PS1, New York, USA (2014); Degrees of Freedom, MAMbo, Bologna, Italy (2015); Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art 5, Thessaloniki, Greece (2015); Belvedere 21, Vienna, Austria (2018); La Biennale Arte 58, Venice, Italy (2019), and Curitiba Biennial of Contemporary Art 14, Curitiba, Brazil (2019).

Works by the artist are held in the collections of: Tate Modern, London, UK; Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, Serbia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia; Museum of Art in Łódź, Poland; Kadist Collection, Paris, France; Kontact Collection, Vienna, Austria; and Art Collection Telekom, Bonn, Germany.