When it was first thought of an idea to gather artists within a project of the Environmental Association Sunce, it was clear that something like that could be done without many difficulties. The context of the project, which is focused on landscape and the notion “island”, gave a frame large enough for maneuvering, and with organizers’ faith in the project, engagement of a young artist, Duška Boban, who contacted all the artists involved, and the support from HULU- Croatian Association of Visual Artists, there was a feeling of operational freedom.
The exhibition is produced within the framework of a project focused on preserving tradition and cultural heritage, the circumstances that put many artists in a defensive position because many think that art should not be perceived as a tool to solve certain concrete social or cultural problems. But, the works that will be displayed in the exhibition are far away from being engaged in solving problems, and their intention was either focused on ecology or on cultural aspect of the theme.
The name of the project “On the Way Home” gave the initial guidelines, while the island as a central motif gave a broad spectrum of possible interpretations. The island area, where Sunce’s activists have found an undisturbed manifesto of Mediterranean as a treasury of heritage worthy of protection, became an inspiration for artists to question their self-image and their relationship with that what surrounds them. The first intention to create a creative dialogue with the local Mediterranean landscape, its values and problems in the field, resulted in a gathering of heterogeneous works of art that revolve around the notion of “island”- from concrete landscape to island as a spiritual category.
Islands as last oases of Mediterranean tradition – the ones human kind hasn’t yet managed to destroy, imply contemplation about the landscape, tradition, heritage…, about forgotten building blocks of identity, which are integrated today as potential “good investments”. The island reality still eludes us and they are visited only as holiday getaways. Insular world is also a place of meditation that forces us to be alone with our thoughts, but at the same time it is a space where communication is somewhat absent and the need to communicate with the rest of the world is obvious.
Thinking about those islands is left to video artists, mostly because video is considered to be a young form of expression in art because people forget it has more than 30-year-old tradition. Most institutions in Croatia back that up that still refuse to monitor, store and process video art in Croatia.
The request for protection of tradition is emphasized through the need to make a connection between generations, connection that implies knowledge sharing and reinterpreting of it. Unfortunately, bonds between generations in art sometimes seem too weak, especially in moments when conflict between older and younger generation gives the impression of something unavoidable. Group exhibitions are often a subject of discussion where both those groups are branded as closed and exclusive. Even when theme of the exhibition is just a framework, aesthetical problem or medium of expression, one can get an impression that key of selection for exhibitions may be artist’s age. That is why artists of all ages were called to participate in order to point out the possibility of communication between them- from those fresh out of art academies, to those which have established themselves in video-art over twenty years ago.
Care and understanding between generations in interpreted in seaman Kolja Markovic’s video diary, filmed in the 70’s on a 8 mm tape. Most of it was filmed from the ship itself and represents artist’s love of the sea and his job as a sailor, which he wanted to store for posterity. The intention of this work and the fact that it still exists became a part of the story, and the audio became equally important by transferring it to a digital media, which with its concept underlines the reasons for selection.
Preserving and reinterpreting tradition, along with artist’s reinterpretation of meaning are presented in a video filmed by Duška Boban, which has for a theme an old tradition of sacrificing a boat in honor of St. Nicholas. By mixing the existing tradition of Vis, “Tovareća mužika” from Sali on Dugi otok, modified by modern input of a paragliding contest, and an audio-visual adventure with mystical impression was created, but primary as artist’s interpretation of the sacrifice- its goal- rebirth, and primordial belief in strength of the natural life-cycle.
Sandra Sterle presents photos, which feature artist herself dressed as a peasant from the island of Mljet, photographed doing her everyday island routine. By building her fictional self-portrait in a different life context the artist is moving through space made of mixed feelings of natural and supernatural, and thus searching for shares in tradition and legacy in forming her own identity. Her exploration is not confined to her own personality. The model of presenting her work raises numerous questions, primarily about the possible reception of markings of one’s local specificity.
As a contrast to brochures for tourists of questionable authenticity, Dubravko Kuhta created a postcard made of scenes taken on a not so sunny summer day during his stay in Nečujam on Šolta. This can be seen in the structure of the work made mostly out of static frames, which have just enough length to be registered. The choice of scenes in the end is an elegiac condensation of reality.
People go to islands, we might argue, out of escapism and for practical reasons. Video-interactive installation by Dunja Sablić by its monotonous sound of crickets and quivery picture creates a feeling similar to the dizziness caused by summer heat. The relaxing power of the scene matches our accepted notion of the island as an isolated getaway. But, the advantages are at the same time disadvantages of island reality. Unreality is created in the moment when we want/need to communicate. Interactive part of the work offers us a chance to translate words into Morse code, but the message can only be sent.
The scene of landscape in art discourse can transcend into a sign of a general picture of human’s surroundings. Dan Oki uses a video of marine landscape to apply quivery forms that represent symbols of energy centers in human body. They interlink and fluctuate through a principle of cleansing energy through chakras. With a vibrant sound of a Tibetan mantra a meditative “session” is created, where by art he achieves dislocation and dematerialization of a picture of Zadar’s archipelago and ships courses…. Author’s “mantra” reflects need to achieve harmony between man and environment, affecting drowsy centers of consciousness with the idea to change thinking and liberation from a materialist perception of the world.
“Maraiselect” and “Banal” by David Larcher are two sides of human’s unique need to define their relationship with outer and personal reality. Different approaches to reality are legitimate, but we usually accept them as a sum of banal facts. The enigmatic work ”Banal” lets the observer to take the meaning by demanding their active participation, but also the possibility of a banal interpretation. About accepting communication as a way into oneself, but not as something forced upon us, more like a choice, speaks Larcher’s second work “Maraiselect”.
Ivan Ladislav Galeta doesn’t view with anxiety islands’ turn into their own contemplative world. Time and joy in beauty of such a moment is “stretched” by mixing scenes that present three island women. Captured thought, along with the sensuality and visual beauty of a detail, fragile as they are, are corner stones in an elusive passing of time.
Short story “Transporter” by Nikola Bajto, digitally released on an official DVD of the exhibition, printed and exhibited in an chamber ambient on reading stands, illuminated by reading lamps, points out the multimedia character of the exhibition, and its goal to bind and integrate text, picture and sound sensation under one idea that drives the exhibition. The part of that whole is the mentioned DVD made by Duška Boban, which concept relies on a notion of separation of the islands, interpreted as a metaphor for individuality of every artist in the exhibition.
It is evident that only some authors have started from the notion of “island” in their works, while others symbolically reinterpreted that notion as a new place in their art. The philosophical, social, artistic… connotations affirm the receptiveness of this model of an exhibition, which could be constantly broadened by new works of art and new authors.

Jasna Gluić