wanderlust brings a touch of fresh air to bratislava's conceptual arts scene. the debut of franz milec showcases a promising talent.
Lately, scarcity of cultural events, albeit low-profile and decidedly non-mainstream ones, is indeed not something Bratislava suffers from. Yet in spite of all the enthusiasm of the young artists and their groupies, most of the exhibitions in the trendy co-working spaces and tiny galleries slash hip bars are usually marred by weak concepts and an execution unable to mask the all too unappealing hobbyist feel that has slowly turned into a veritable artistic tradition in Bratislava. That said, the newest exhibition in town, Wanderlust, a debut of a 21-year old Slovak artist currently based in Prague, Franz Milec, while definitely DIY and decidedly low budget, manages to overcome most of these challenges. With its strong visuals and a concept that doesn't dry out in a quick unsatisfying gulp, it manages to leave you going home with a doggie bag full of food for thought.
In its basic form, Wanderlust is a collection of tightly intertwined visual tropes that play with film theory and study of analog photography divided in three different parts. Firstly, Franz takes on the degradation of memory in its material photographic form through almost banal looking travel photographs subjected to artist-inflicted abuse, from nail scratching to solarization, simulating passing of time or their physical fragility. The second part of the exhibition takes a critical look at a very contemporary issue: "Is a movie still a movie when exhibited in a museum?" by deconstructing film to its basic constitutive components and watching their interaction. The last part, called I couldn't help but wonder, admittedly the one that makes the exhibition worth a visit for an non-arts-educated audience, is a triptych of videos shot on an iPod from a moving train. Here, Franz explores the calming yet fast-paced hypnotic quality of a skilled video splice and a precisely timed rhythmic audio. You can see the last part below - I highly recommend using headphones and playing it on a loop: