»We are all in exile in many ways.«: Croatian artist Maja Marković’s installations and drawings examine the notion of collapse and the concept of home focusing on architecture, the analysis of space and the body. Dealing with experiences derived from the destiny of her family during the 1990s in Croatia the possibility of living in a space built within the history of her family has been the central preoccupation of her work in the past years. »We are in exile from our childhood, for example.«
CH: Maja, your work in the current Solitude exhibition is called The Collapse. We see sheets of paper hanging from the walls and lying on the floor with loosely arranged wooden sticks. The structure seems only one small breeze away from collapse. Can you explain the way you examine this notion of collapse?
MM: I am concerned with the recovery of space through gesture. There is always an awareness of the body in my work process and my installations become psychological extensions of the body. Collapse here is not only meant to be destructive but also to be visible through the act of acceleration, dynamism, and change, like a progression in space. The focus of my work is gestures of the body, gestures of the site, an architecture of emotion, the body, and architecture. My drawings are often abstract, yet they sensually evoke parts of interior spaces and architecture. My work is often meditative and generative, emphasizing a celebration of the material physicality of being, the pleasures of sensati
on, and bodily experience, as well as their own polysemy, namely the reinstatement of another structure of understanding.
CH: One new focus you have had as an artist in the last year is the concept of home. Do these topics, home and collapse, intersect in any way?
MM: I am increasingly drawn to the strangeness of transitional spaces and the wonder they provoke. Essentially abstract, my installations are evocative of systems and circuitry, cause and effect, order and chaos, process and control. The comparison between interior space for living and exterior space for living – a long abandoned concept – is also a consideration. The scenes are open-ended, like unanswered questions. Someone is always absent; the partner who would turn the monologue into a dialogue is missing.
CH: Why is »home« your topic? And what does it mean to you?
M.M.: We are all in exile in many ways. We are in exile from our childhood, for example. For us, it is vital to think about how it is possible to recuperate the idea of the ability to play. A home is a good case; it is a home that wants to be open, as in one’s childhood, when the doors to the house were always open to the neighborhood. A home is usually a space that belongs to its surroundings, without the sort of defenses that one takes as characteristic of adulthood. With the arrival of permanent settlements, mankind faced the question of what kind of structures we would occupy over time. What kind of materials could we build with? How long can these structures last against time and weathering? How big are they supposed to be?
CH: Can you tell us something about the way you deal with your material?
MM: I work a lot with space. The relationship between space and human life in any form means that space is a source of latent material power: the power to sustain human life. Space is present whether anyone knows about it or not, but space only becomes a place when it acquires a perceptual unity.
In The Collapse varying lengths of wood are arranged on the floor and walls along with long pieces of paper hanging from the ceiling and falling onto the floor, in a way that directs one’s vision outside as well as inside the space. The exhibition room opens up gently, but the walls are still there. It is really impossible to know what might be outside them. Ultimately the vanishing point is as much in the viewer as in any other place. I am trying to eliminate a sense of wholeness and concentrate on parts, fragments, incomplete activities, and structures. To emphasize transitional stages of an activity or many activities with no foreseen end. A sculpture is nothing more than a momentary realization, while the drawings point towards the possibility of multiple variations.
CH: In your older works, you generally concentrate on architecture, drawing and the analysis of space? How do these fields work together?
MM: Throughout my work, I explore the spatial in-between through reflection on space and objects that suggest an in-between space. My chief considerations are not focused on capturing the appearance of the landscape but rather on investigating the physical orientation of space, form, and placement. I approach this by constructing drawings/installations which have indefinite time, where an encounter between the concrete and the abstract acts as the impulse for developing various atmospheres and feelings. These studies usually take the form of drawings, but they often develop into a spatial installation consisting of several parts. I use my drawing language as a map for the purpose of navigating mark and form.
CH: We read in a text: »After the phase of depicting space horizontally (geographically) that she supplemented by historical elements, without insisting on synthesis, [Markovic] has assumed a different position, could say more active, more personal and thus more exposed.« What is more personal?
MM: I have somehow returned to the experience of viewing typical of a passerby. My installations make us contemplate the intensity of spatial rhythm, movement, the relation between masses and voids, the real and the interpreted. I deal with »inner emigration«: personal experiences derived from the events and the destiny of my family during the 1990s; we were left without house due to unfortunate coincidences. A possibility of living in a space built within the history of my family has been the central preoccupation of my work during the last few years. Between a house that was and is no more and a house that was never there, the construction walls are partitioning new possibilities and stories that resonate in unfinished histories of our building and social plans.