On 26th of January was the opening of solo exhibition, selected retrospective, of Valerie Wolf Gang’s video works in Gallery Center, Center for Contemporary Art of Montenegro in Podgorica, Montenegro.
The work of visual artist Valerie Wolf Gang focuses on video and contemporary artistic practices. Her work reflects social conflicts arising from political regulations and constraints, especially when travelling or working abroad. When moving in space and time she animates the dead surroundings with her camera as suggested in the writings about speed by the contemporary philosopher Paul Virilio. Her works underscore the contrasts between nature and city, happiness and sadness, authority and freedom.
The exhibition ‘Fragments of Time and Reality’ at the Contemporary Art Centre of Montenegro features a selection of video works, which were made on different artist residencies, where Valerie explored the influences of change of surroundings on artistic creativity. During her temporary stay in different countries (such as Singapore, Portugal, Austria, Russia, Los Angeles etc.) she created different experimental and poetical videos which talk about her involvement with the new surroundings. She often seeks inspiration in nature, explores different subconscious states and uses camera, editing and sound to create different visual stories, similar as painters use their techniques. She captures different moments with her camera and then manipulates them in the editing room creating thus fragments of a new reality.
On one floor we can watch the video installation ‘A View through the Window’ which creates the imaginary space, a line of windows, through which the visitors of the gallery can look and observe strangers, strange places and random everyday details. The video material was completely shot in Paris and each “video window” is different. Installation is dedicated to all the victims who lost their life in recent events. On the other floor we can watch series of video poetry ‘An Artist Abroad’. It is a project that started in August 2014 when Valerie moved to Portugal for one year to explore and research the influence of temporary change of residence, country and culture on artistic production and creativity. The videos are constructed as experimental poetical art films in which Valerie uses principles analogous to those of painting. She sees the video production and editing, the sound design and the poetry writing as part of the same process of re-creating different atmospheres and merging different realities. On the same floor there is also a selection of other videos which were made during her stay abroad, such as ‘Distant Memory’, which speaks about the times before the disintegration of Yugoslavia and encourages reflection on what the war actually brings and how quickly people forget everything, ‘The Call of Nostalgia’ is another short experimental film which speaks about the past and tradition, its main subject is wine, roots and memory; the experimental short film ‘Freedom 2.0’ was part of a video installation in Singapore where Valerie divided the gallery in two parts with barbed wire and explored the artificial boundaries between ourselves; with the video ‘New Land New Beginning’ we experience her arrival in a new land, where she was exploring inner nature of human behavior and rebirth of an artist.
This exhibition is an insight into the work of Valerie Wolf Gang as a travelling artist dealing with different political, economic, environmental and social issues, seeking and painting her answers with her camera, looking for a perfect balance and harmony between chaos and order, freedom and authority. Through her works we can see fragments of time and reality, which became part of new experimental videos and films. “We balance, that’s why we pass from silence to words; we swing between the two because it’s movement of life.” (dialogue from the video installation ‘A View through the Window’.)
Video documentation of exhibition set up – a walk through the gallery:
Exhibition opening text by art historian Nataša Nikčević:
Nomadic consciousness is the epistemological and political imperative of critical thinking, which characterizes the artist Valerie Wolf Gang who primarily uses video as a medium. In the series “Fragments of Time and Reality,” her major themes are politics, social conflicts, disintegration, poetry, travel, nature, and subconscious with special emphasis on politics.
Artist doesn’t only work in the public space of time. She also works in the heterogeneous space of art archives, where her works are situated among the works of past and future. Art is still active in our time, as well as it was in the modernity; it does not simply disappear after its work is done. Instead of that, the works of art will still be present in the future. And exactly this predicted presence of an artistic form in the future guarantees its impact on the future and represents its opportunity to shape the future. Politics shapes the future by its very disappearance. Art shapes the future by extending its own presence… Artists always do their job, not only for the sake of their own time, but for the art archives as well – for the future in which the artist’s work remains present. This makes the difference between politics and art. The essay by Boris Groys, titled “Art Workers: Between Utopia and the Archive,” most precisely clarifies the relation between politics and art, the relation examined by Valerie Wolf Gang as well. She places the focus on the border areas of dominance and power that are so characteristic of politics. Her works from the series “Fragments of Time and Reality” are most commonly, at first glance, regarded as documentary in nature; but she uses the strategy of delusion so well because in fact they are not. Finally and most precisely, one can talk about a subversion of sorts as one of the elements of creation of an unconventional video image, thus creating the sophisticated passwords of visual.