Slovenian Contemporary Portrait exhibition catalogue Nov 2013 - Page 5

Nika Perne PREFACE With its long and interesting history – within photography as well as other artistic practices, portrait is an exceptionally representative genre. It is the genre that deals fundamentally with the individual, their identity, at the same time intervening intensely in the field of resolving the issues of representation and perception of the individual and of what is inherent to the man and mankind. According to art historian Mil?ek Komelj, an insightful mental view of the personality is of major importance in portraying, as it is such a view that can allure the viewer and hold their attention. Similar qualities have been ascribed to portrait by art critic Max Kozloff, who believes it to be the part of the photographic art that best shows the concept of the soul held by each individual. Portrait is a highly enigmatic genre that explores the complex questions emerging from the relation between the author, the portrayed and the viewer. It is this relation between the three that triggers questions on social dilemmas, identity and finally on the important role of photography in today's image-saturated world. Slovenian Contemporary Portrait is a group exhibition presenting the above-mentioned general features, with some of its series that might not even seem distinct examples of portrait exceeding the traditional understanding of the genre. In contents, it focuses mainly on psychological conditions and individual fates, while it also challenges the viewer with considerate concepts, requiring from them more than a fleeting gaze. The exhibiting authors represent various orientations within the genre, the exhibition emphasising diversity as its basic premise. Katja Goljat as well as Borut Peterlin both keep returning to a specific moment in the history of the portrait. Each in their own way, they follow the tracks of the history of photography, and even surpass it, mostly with the emotional states of those portrayed and with their distinct signature styles. In a similar fashion, some photographers are revisiting history with the form of journal entries. Such series range between deeply expressive and documentary, Nataša Košmerl and Simon Chang being the most obvious representatives of this current in contemporary Slovenian photography. With Nataša Košmerl, we can typically encounter intimate experience and explorations of self and her surroundings. In case of Simon Chang, who often toys with advanced media, the focus is on the feeling for the present moment, for the individual in their own, mainly domestic environment. The stories they tell are general, thus leaving the viewer sufficient space to create their own interpretations. Katja Kremeni? in her series approaches similar forms, yet in a lively