Project Description



Municipal Gallery Nova Gorica, Nova Gorica

One of the basic premises of Uršula Berlot’s artistic expression is undoubtedly her desire to enlarge and ensuing practice of making visible that which is not before our eyes, that which is not directly evident nor exposed to the view and analysis of the viewer other than through her work. These structures and blow-ups of fractions bear witness to the preservation and isolation of the traces left by her interventions or recordings and visualisations of magnified samples, forms, and structures. The blowups are of fractions of the author’s body (skin tissue, hair, fingernails, eyelashes, and teeth enamel) – a selection of matter and fractions, a record of sorts of her very existence, of her material composition, which makes it personal, perhaps even to the extent that it creates some manner of self-portrait. Although the reference to “images” of herself, to artists existence, is not her original motivation for the creation of these artworks, this existential note remains relentlessly present, providing a subtext to the whole collection.
At its core, this selection of works, done in various techniques, is about the question of reality and representation, the original image and simulacrum, a process of dematerialisation and substantiality of the image. A mimetically and microscopically precisely rendered blow-up of the structure of matter is the starting point for her relief light works, drawings on paper, and video, which are arranged in the gallery space as a coherent spatial installation. The mimetic repetition of this motif is thus expanded in Uršula Berlot’s works with the issue of whether to stay true to the original or transform the template – usually a microscopic image of fractions of the artist’s own body.
The works on paper (Bodygaze) were created from images of the microstructures of such fractions, which formed the basis for her airbrush prints. The structures were then stylised and abstracted into images of individual fractions of the body. In fact, what is at issue here is the duality between the visible and the invisible, between the concealed, deep structure of body fractions and a visualisation thereof in the form of a microscopic image that lays the invisible completely bare and makes it available for visual perception.
Similarly, the relief light pictures (Corporeal Abstractions) were created from microscopic images processed with special software used in microscopy to analyse the structure of materials and crystals. The software copies the recorded images into an inverted, reciprocal space and generates new images using certain filters. The result is a double metamorphosis since the filters reduce the amount of data captured in the original image, from which the software then generates a new image. The new image is similar to the original, but it is created artificially, digitally. This opens an immensely broad semantic field of multi-layered references, be they references to the duality of mimesis and technologically generated reality or to the question of reality in this day and age, when the boundary between image/simulation and original is becoming increasingly blurred.
In her drawings, light works and Bodyfraction video the duality between technology and traces of the artist’s hand, between the digital and the analogue, achieves consistent results in the form of works that offer a poetic deliberation on an invisible reality that is made visible with the help of microscopy technology.
The exhibited works are structured around the triad of body, media, and an art that uses as its “material” images acquired by means of scientific technology, making the initial materials – fractions of the body – the starting point of the final works. Their constant oscillation between the documentary-scientific image and poetic interpretation lays bare dimensions of the final objects that situate the installation Bodyfractions in the realm of breakthrough experimental procedures that expand and transform the definition of artistic medium: in this case, the medium is the microscopic image as well as its transformation into the finished, artistic image.
The body as an element of life is not subject to imitation; instead, its constituent parts, blown up and transformed, have become works of art per se, for they do not imitate life; they have been created from life itself. One could even argue that these images do not imitate life and nature, but rather are inherently both by virtue of their materiality. At a time when not only art but nature as well have entered an era of technical reproducibility, an image of the original, deepest, primordial structure of a part of the body may itself be transformed and become different in its inimitable uniqueness, thus transposing these images into the imaginative, artistic sphere.
This exhibition by Uršula Berlot is therefore an unambiguous and exceedingly poetic commentary on a topic that the artist has been dealing with for some time – the motif of transience, which carries with it the metaphorical elements of vanitas. The installation stands at the intersection of three levels: the images are acquired by means of high technology; the author then transforms them using her artistic imagination; and finally, the semantic dimension makes the impression that the whole of the images is an astute visual meditation on the passage of time and transience.
(Tomislav Vignjević, 2020)