Slaven Tolj

LJUBLJANA, 25. 1. 2024
25. 1. 2024 @ 21:00
Adults, Students, Seniors
Parterre Gallery
Slaven Tolj

Slaven Tolj will address heavy and serious universal themes of evasiveness, disappearance, and death while drawing out melancholy, drawing from his own experience of physical limitations and insights into the actual nature of things. The performance lasts for 30 minutes.

After facing severe health problems that impaired his verbal fluency, made it difficult to recall people’s names and certain notions, and were compounded by disorders in the articulation of speech, Slaven Tolj has, in a sense, brought his personal and complex poetics to the underworld. Regardless of the people in his mind, the things he revives with archaeological methods, or life’s circumstances and situations, we will mainly perceive death, exhaustion, decay in them – everything that is brought to completion, in some lasting associative connection with his everyday life. The deceased, irrespective of whether they were once good friends or mere acquaintances, become part of the ordinary repertoire of communication. 

One of them is Pavo Urban, a young photographer who died on 6 December 1991 while capturing the war devastation of Dubrovnik. There he lay, huddled on the smoothed pavement, after capturing his own death with his camera while documenting the death of the city. Slaven Tolj will mark the occasion by selecting two of Urban’s photographs from their extensive shared archive. These are two photographs that Urban used to document Tolj’s 1988 performance. These photographs were certainly not chosen blindly. When Tolj exhibits his earlier works or segments of earlier works nowadays, he treats them not with a retrospective, but with an associative approach. They are chosen with caution because they are directly related to certain situations, phenomena, ideas and predictions that the artist is presently either obsessed with or is living. The artist will defer the passage of time in his own unique way, thus paraphrasing the verses of the poet Ingeborg Bachmann: Embrace the time and shove it into this today. Tolj’s today is a site of constant confrontation with death. Although in his work he has often walked on the fringes of life, now he no longer challenges death, but rather lives with it. Thus, while charting the melancholy of evasion, disappearance and death, Slaven Tolj will address difficult and serious universal themes through a structured microcosm of his own bodily limitations and a constant intuitive insight into the actual character of things. (Excerpt from Helena Puhara’s text)

Slaven Tolj is a Croatian conceptual, performance, and media artist, curator, and cultural worker from Dubrovnik, Croatia. His radical and minimalist practice, which encompasses performances, photographs, and ready-made situations and objects, often deals with specific social facts and historical events. At his beginnings, in the nineties, his work focused on the situation of his own country, i.e. the disintegration of Yugoslavia and especially the siege of Dubrovnik, his hometown. Then, in the post-totalitarian context, he envisaged a broader scope of investigation and engaged in issues relating to globalization and multiculturalism. In addition to his practice, Slaven Tolj has always pursued curatorial activities, starting with the foundation of Art Workshop Lazareti in Dubrovnik in 1988, currently one of the most active art centers in Croatia, which focuses on the interaction between contemporary arts and social change.


Free entrance