Mirjana Rukavina

Here & There – Places of Absence

Photography
Mirjana Rukavina, a Maribor artist based in Vienna, presents herself at the UGM Studio with a photographic exhibition of two new series that merge into "places of absence". She places Hutter's abandoned textile factory (formerly known as MTT) as an emptied, aestheticised and at the same time traumatised place into a visual dialogue with its alleged antipode − the spectacular Donau City Tower, currently the tallest building in Austria, yet as a designer complex left without traces and apparently perceived as a post-industrial adventure factory. Through their wisely unmasked spatial situations, the two photographic series identify the artist's basic principle of work that shows her absolute distance from her objects of desire by transforming them into a series of documented views. However, the confrontation of two such unexpected feelings of absence, leads us to discover a space that defines and shapes the artist "here and there".
Simona Vidmar, Here & There – Places of Absence, UGM Studio, Maribor 2015
Mirjana Rukavina's exhibition focuses on the current state of a former textile factory site in Maribor's Melje district that was founded by Josip Hutter in 1926, nationalised in 1945, and denationalised and privatised in 1991. The story of the factory which, after it became privatised, gradually but persistently deteriorated is just one of many similar in Maribor, and the artist documented it as a result of the ravages of time in her neighbourhood. Although the scenes in the photographs are presented more or less from an aesthetic view and emotionless, a personal sensitivity in the details can be perceived as well. Traces of people (working gown, wristwatch, and a folder put aside) who long ago enlivened these rooms and used the inventory sensitively span over the emptiness. (…). The former Maribor Textile Factory is a ravage of past times, but as a ruin it has become some kind of a war victim and not a technologically outdated edifice that needs to be recorded, otherwise it would have sunk into oblivion. Although aestheticised, it shows traces of trauma. It is neither beautiful nor spectacular. In some photographs, where there are no utility objects but simply architecture and furniture, the timeless design is appealing and by association tied to another architecture in the exhibition − the new Donau City Tower in Vienna. It too, is an industrial edifice, although not a factory that would produce implements. It is a space dedicated to short-term rentals, and even though it is not empty, it appears impersonal and refined. People leave no traces behind, and the Tower's modular architecture facilitates a quick change of settings and deconstruction. It is a typical space designed for the production and amazement of a modern consumer society that has already forgotten about factories and material production. Most people arrive there only for a couple of hours per year or even only once in a lifetime and can therefore leave the space unburdened. The architecture of the currently tallest building in Austria is an achievement in itself that enthrals or even inspires the attentive observer. However, its functionality is best comparable with an operational system desktop set on our workplace computer. After installing the new version, the old one is easily forgotten. Hutter's factory represents a real body of pain and pleasure; it is a conscious image, a presence, even though fading, while the DC Tower is an apparition not to be grasped and only scarcely perceived through the scenery of spectacle.”
Vasja Nagy, Here & There – Places of Absence, UGM Studio, Maribor 2015

Beauty Archives

Photography
In her work Beauty Archives, Mirjana Rukavina does not depict women naturally because they do not conform to the cultural codes of beauty, and dominant media presentations. With photographs which narrate about the role of the body in the formation of self-image, she warns about the discomfort which a contemporary person might have, concerning her/his self-image. This discomfort is most expressive in the relationship between the body and the image.
Melita Zajc, Body Images as Images of Humanity - the Questions of Identity, FERI, Maribor 2009
 

Milwaukee

Video performance
Mirjana Rukavina’s point of departure is the experience of the malfunctioning body in the relation to the lust of pain. The prosthesis added to the body and the prosthesis being a body in itself, take a central part in her reevaluation of power and the image. Rukavina, herself performing in the video, is forced to model her body’s gestures in relation to the metal armor worn for corrections of scoliosis and the water heavily pouring onto her head. She is representing, what I call, the frigid, out of control and perverted core of our imagination. Rukavina is perfect as the psychotic unhappy medieval princess, projecting an introverted personality fanatically devoted to a proper malfunctioned body. In the video work she displays for us a cathartic outlet through a proper anger and malevolence.
Marina Gržinić, Zero Visibility of the reverse order, Maska, Ljubljana 2003

Waiting Room

Video installation, »Very Private« group exhibition Gallery of Fine Arts Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia
Rukavina’s installation consists of a triptych video projection and a monitor in a stylised hospital waiting room. The Waiting Room confronts us with happenings in the surgery room, with a reconstruction of an operation, while the environment suggests that we are looking at the »direct transmission«. Rukavina presents the innermost intimacy of a person: opening and incising of a human body, which is impossible even for the »protagonist« himself / herself. The presentation does not feature the style of scientific television programmes in which man is merely a sign of the progress in medicine; rather, with the mode of installation and editing Rukavina has asserted her personal apprehension of such operations. Man in her installation is a poetic being, not »animated« by God, but rather by man. The »direct transmission« of the operation is not reduced (merely) to the highlights of the operation, nor systematically selected in the direction of a definite goal, but rather presented in an aesthetic manner to induce ontological reflections about human existence that depends – in this case more than ever – on the earthly factor, on other people.
Vanesa Cvahte, Catalog, 1999

Loop-Lines

Video triptych
Durch die Ton- Demontage wird die filmische Konstruktion der Stilisierung von drei filmischen Frauenarchetypen “entlarvt”, was eine neue, kombinatorische Poetik der emotionalen Atmosphären vermittelt.
Vanesa Cvahte, KunstRaumMitteleuropa, Catalog, Vienna 2000