The art practice of Boris Beja is defined by an engaged dialogue with the social goings-on of the contemporary times. Particularly the exploration and observation of phenomena that elicit strong emotional states such as anxiety, the experience of discomfort, and fear. The artist is interested in how social crises are situated in the structure of everyday life as well as the perception of specific social patterns and systems of behaviour. He expresses his reflections through monumental set-ups and spatial installations, readymade objects, photography and the technique of collage.
In his recent projects, Beja has dealt with modified forms of work (Between the Lines, 2014), the perception of sleep (Siliconato Bianco – Anallergico, 2014), the permanency of war (Another evening, 2015) and the refugee problem (Space in Between, 2015).
This time, and specifically for the Račka Gallery, he has prepared a multimedia project called Dennis Likes to Play Tennis, whose starting point he found on a trip to a popular seaside resort in Spain. He has installed a body into the centre of the presented works as a place of discipline and pleasure. He has used the game of tennis as a metaphor to highlight the fundamental elements of living within the capitalist system, such as changed forms of social bonds, the demarcated boundary between life and work, constant performativity and competitiveness. Through the images and objects in the space, the artist shifts the viewer’s position to the time of events as he perceived them in the tourist setting. The video I wanna go to Marz expresses the anxiety in the approach of the object of desire to its realization. The series of collages You Said Sun reveals the architectural landscape of the tourist city observed by the artist during his every day run. During his daily routine, he observed the modernist and postmodernist architecture, whose exterior had not changed since its completion – what is changing, however, is its interior and its users. The artist reads architecture like objects, sculptures, individualized constructions, and supplements these with wallpaper patterns and readymades.
In a dialogue with the urban landscape, Beja presents the other side of the tourist goings-on in a longer video. In the video Dennis Likes to Play Tennis, the sandy landscape is temporarily inhabited by random strangers, who are freed from all social norms and have succumbed to momentary physical pleasures. The artist has added a resonance of the strings of the racket and a commentator’s words to the visual image of dunes, sand, palm branches and sunshine, complemented in the sequences by naked male bodies, as well as an audio clip including a woman’s shrieks, moans, thrashing of tennis balls. The objects in the space combine the symbolism of physical effort with the softness of handiwork. On view is a series of tennis rackets, which the artist has intervened into with needlepoint tapestry, partially covering the stringing of the rackets with floral motifs.
The works in the exhibition, among other things, problematize the phenomenon of individualism through an obsession with the body and striving for closeness, which is becoming lost in the contemporary times through a multitude of virtual expressions of connectivity. Recent sociological surveys show that an increase in feeling lonely is a symptom of a highly developed technological society. Through the events that take place on the dream islet, the artist translates the feelings of the affective dimensions of the technological times into the sharp form and space of a fleeting spectacle.
Curator: Maja Hodošček
Boris Beja (1986) graduated in Printmaking from the Natural Sciences and Technical Faculty in Ljubljana and in Sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. He has received numerous accolades for his work (Student Prešeren Award for Sculpture, 2016) and OHO Award nominations (2015, 2016). He has presented himself in many solo (Next Station, Nova Galerija, Trbovlje, 2016, Dormitory, Ravne Gallery, 2015, Between the Lines, Galerija Simulaker, Novo Mesto …) and group exhibitions (Beyond the Globe, 8th Triennial of Contemporary Art – U3, Moderna galerija, Ljubljana, 2016, Personal, Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana, 2016, Attention, travail!, Le Comptoir, Liège, Belgium, 2016, Expanding Sculptural Structures, Ljubljana City Art Museum, Ljubljana, 2014 …). He lives and works in Ljubljana.
Polona Krenker, Franc Hribar, Andrej Učakar, G. J., B. V.
The project was supported by:
Mizarstvo Jan, Strunca.com, DDT Delavski dom Trbovlje, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.