NMG@PRAKTIKA_Martina Miholić: Gallery of Floating Archipelagos

NMG@PRAKTIKA_Martina Miholić: Gallery of Floating Archipelagos
Klub Kocka Gallery, Youth Center Split, Ulica slobode 28
OPENING: Thursday, October 5th 2023. at 7pm

One of the narrative backbones of the series of works, which is not literally staged in the exhibitions, is Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale “The Little Mermaid“. The story of a tragic character who sacrifices her greatest virtue, her voice, then her body, and even her existence, is an ideal reference to the contemporary imperative of constant adaptation of female appearance to the imposed canons of beauty. The body changed by cosmetics, surgery, and exercise continues its further transformation in the digital and viral reality, which perpetuates further imperatives of artificial and unnecessary ideals.

Dealing with the search for an archetype of beauty that emanates complex issues such as social coercion and commercial exploitation at its core, Martina does not offer a one-sided critical determination. Namely, the manipulation of physical appearance is accompanied by metaphors of metamorphosis, transition, and fluidity of identity. The antipode of such an unfortunate and ultimately passive situation is the one embodied by Inana, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility and war, who in Babylonian mythology is called Ishtar, and in later cultures will be transposed into Aphrodite, Venus, Freya, or Lada, the goddess of spring. , love and beauty in Old Slavic mythology. She was the thematic and conceptual thread of the exhibition of the same name, which Martina realized with a group of authors in 2019 at the Bačva Gallery.

Ishtar, or the queen of the night, was depicted as a naked woman with an idealized body, with large wings and long legs that have bird claws instead of feet. Ishtar transcended her death, and among her many powers, she was known for the ability to assign gender. Some members of the cult of the goddess supposedly changed their gender from male to female, indicating that in the state religion of Babylon, gender was perceived as changeable.

This fluidity in seeking new forms and meanings complements the aforementioned aspiration for transformation, opening up questions of freedom and strength in the search for one’s own voice and identity. The dynamics and tension of the variety of individual and universal, momentary, and eternal transformations are ideally supported by the contrast between the defined nature of material objects and the abstraction of organic creations. They emanate different symbolisms, for example, water represents the source of life, and islands are the “primordial spiritual center”.

Barbara Vujanović

Martina Miholić graduated from the Graphic Arts Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2004, and in 2011 she received her master’s degree from Central Saint Martins College in London. In 2006, she became the artistic director of the International Festival of Student Theatre and Multimedia – Test! which she managed until 2010. From 2010 until 2012, as part of the ULAZ association and in collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in London, she implemented the project „Export – Import”. In 2016, together with Mia Orsag, she was the curator of the 33rd Youth Salon. She has produced numerous cultural events, such as the Youth Salon, Biennale of Painting, and others. Since 2021, she has been a member of the Cultural Council of Innovative Cultural Practices at the Ministry of Culture and Media.
She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, as well as film festivals in the country and abroad. She has attended several residency programs and is the recipient of an award at the 14th Triennial of Croatian Sculpture.

CURATOR: Katarina Duplančić
NMG CURATORIAL TEAM: Katarina Duplančić, Natasha Kadin, Vedran Perkov
DESIGN: Nikola Križanac
COPY EDITING: Katarina Duplančić
SETUP: Martina Miholić
DONORS: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia, City of Split
MAVENA SUPPORTED BY: Zaklada Kultura nova