Solo Exhibition

Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec

Reading reading
13. 4. — 28. 5. 2023
Basement space
Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec

Curated by Mara Anjoli Vujić

The exhibition Reading Reading is a comprehensive presentation of the artistic research project , which Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec undertook in 2017. The project engages with reading as a bodily activity, and as the relation between spoken word as an event in time, and written word as an object in space. The project is a manifestation of the various ways of capturing, embodying, and unsettling the temporal relations that unfold between the written text, eye movement, the inner voice and phonic substance while reading by altering the ocular desire, slowing down, reversing or stopping time between sensing and making sense.

It is conceived as a multimedia spatial installation that activates the relations between the six selected works. From the larger series Reading Reading, works created between 2019 and 2023, the following are on display: Reading Vito Acconci (2019), Reading (as) Bodies (2020) and Reading Reading (2020), which are placed alongside the newly created works – The Landscape of the Passerby (2022–2023), Touching Reading (2023) and Morphology of a Pre-view (2019–2022), which are presented for the first time.

The subject of artist’s research is how to separate word and meaning, focusing on different temporalities of both, word and text. This approach links him to the conceptual art of the previous century, which he also directly addresses in individual works, for example in Reading Vito Acconci. Acconci’s conceptual poem READ THIS WORD (1969) becomes the material or starting point for a video in which the artist consistently records the trace of his gaze as it passes through Acconci’s text and voice, which breaks up the text into a series of consecutive letters. Animation and sound record a cognitive activity within which the temporalities of looking, seeing, perceiving and speaking are differentiated, and offer themselves as a tool for unlearning the internalised rules of reading as a cognitive activity. The Morphology of a Pre-view is directly related to the previous work; it consists of six digital prints (three of which are displayed in this exhibition), each one showing the traces of a unique process of reading and counting the letters of Acconci’s text, without displaying the text itself. The work has a strong graphic quality, as the frozen fragments map the invisible path of the artist’s gaze to unveil the invisible morphology of the pre-cognitive gaze, which is offered to the viewer as a possibility to experience the path of one’s own gaze. 

The artist’s oeuvre reveals an ongoing interest in temporality, performativity and spatiality, which manifest themselves as key elements in the strategies of his artistic processes. In Reading (as) Bodies he simultaneously creates a performative setting and an interactive sound installation in which the written text is exposed as a graphic territory and the process of reading is embodied through body movement. The spatial intervention creates an open environment for visitors and performers to inhabit the text with their bodies and activate its sonic manifestations through tracking and digital sound synthesis. The artist invited musicians Tomaž Grom, Lola Mlačnik and Irena Z Tomažin to participate in the presentation at Cukrarna Gallery. 

In The Landscape of the Passerby, a work composed of video, drawings and a newspaper, the artist introduces a new level of exploring the possible relations to text and reading by shifting the gaze from the text to a random guest, an insect that lands on and moves around the page. This offers the opportunity to reflect on the impossibility of perceiving the resulting relations and encountering incompatible subjectivities, meanings and attention as a condition for the emergence of a creative event. In Touching Reading, the artist continues his exploration of the non-interpretive relation to text, this time through tactility. He takes carefully selected fragments of a lecture by Gertrude Stein, transcribes them over printed letters and creates sixteen drawings on digital prints. The traces of his handwriting on the printed text create a new typography and visual texture. Reading Reading is a publication composed of short sentences and images created from the traces of the reader’s gaze. It can be regarded as a poetic contemplation of the encounter between the reader’s gaze and the text. 

The exhibition brings together works that use a variety of media including installation, sound, video, digital print, drawing and publication to uniquely address and disrupt the relation between words and meaning. Visitors are invited to form their own relation to words as independent spatial, temporal, graphic and sonic materialities. 

The artistic research project Reading Reading was co-produced in 2017 by Sploh Institute and Atol Project Institute. All the works on display from 2017–2021 were co-produced by the two institutes and supported by the City Municipality of Ljubljana, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Dutch organisations Mondriaan Fund and Creative Industries Fund. Works The Landscape of the Passerby and Touching Reading were produced by the Cukrarna Gallery.

Opening hours

Tuesday to Sunday: 10.00–19.00


Adults: 3 €
Students, retirees, visitors with disabilities: 2 €
Family ticket: 8 €
Admission free: children 7 and under, ICOM, PRESS