Vlatka Horvat: Means and Ends
At the heart of Horvat’s exhibition is a new installation conceived for the second floor gallery, which takes its cue from the space itself – mirroring, mimicking and extending some of its architectural elements with an arrangement of reclaimed planks and sticks and other found materials.
Working in relation to features like the high windows on each side of the room, the staircase, and the gallery’s central “square” marked out by four pillars, Horvat’s installation speaks to the ideas of enclosure, spatial limit and escape. Emanating from the centre of the room and extending towards its walls and outer edges, Horvat’s ad hoc arrangement of materials creates a crisscrossing network of improvised ramps which combine a diverse collection of sticks and planks with assorted items, such as an empty box, a chair and a bicycle tyre. These makeshift bridge-like structures, which cut the sides of the space at different heights and angles, appear to reach both out from the centre, and upward, towards the windows, reaching them only when braced against the room’s pillars. The resulting installation creates a jumbled field of mostly upward-moving lines and movements, evoking a dysfunctional playground on the one hand, and staging a set of obsessive divisions, barriers and obstacles on the other. Horvat’s work here obstructs movement in the peripheries of space and forces visitors to move exclusively through the room’s middle – a zone that is in any case compromised and narrowed by the few extended ramps whose ends protrude into the central “square”.
Horvat’s interest here – as with much of her practice in sculptural installation – is the relation between built space and the kinds of performative and transformational human processes which might be enacted on and in it, her interventions reconfiguring both the possibilities of the space itself and of the spatial and social relations at play in it. Frequently focused on re-drawing borders, physical and representational frames, Horvat’s installations tend to animate the dynamic relation between the centre of a space, object, or an image on the one side, and its edges or peripheral areas on the other. The work – through its gestures of spatial mimicry, impromptu division, temporary construction and improvised connection – draws attention to both the existing space and a set of unrealized possibilities within it, creating an environment which challenges our journey inside it as well as our ability to figure its purpose and its constraints. Employing the most elementary and temporary gestures of building – leaning, balancing, trapping, stacking, wedging, piling – Horvat makes a 3-dimensional drawing in the space, which both imaginatively extends and materially compromises its utility. In responding to the space in this way, Horvat’s insistent construction of unstable rises and ascents brings to the fore questions of mobility and stuckness, balance and stability – performing the conflicting human desire to be grounded, and at the same time, to be lifted; our wanting to connect to the solid limits of space and also wanting to escape them.
Horvat works across a wide range of forms, namely sculpture, installation, drawing, performance and photography, presenting her work in various contexts – museums and galleries, theatre and dance festivals, and in the public realm. Recent solo exhibitions: CAPRI (Düsseldorf), Zak|Branicka Gallery (Berlin), Disjecta Contemporary Art Center (Portland), annex14 (Zürich), Boston University Art Gallery, Rachel Uffner Gallery (New York), Bergen Kunsthall, the Kitchen (New York). Recent commissioned projects: Marta Herford Museum, Art in the Public Space program of the City of Zurich, Kunstverein Braunschweig, Bunkier Sztuki (Krakow), Kunsthalle Osnabrück, VOLT (Bergen), among others.