Brsalje is a series of analog black and white photographs that Ana Opalić began in 1996. They always show the same frame: the surface of the sea and the sky, divided right down the middle by the horizon line and framed by the rocks. The artist leaves out the signifiers of the Dubrovnik area; it is only locals and frequent visitors to The City who realize that the imperceptible spaces beyond the margins of the frame are occupied by the Lovrijenac fort on the right and the Bokar fort on the left. With the complete absence of any human traces, in its purified composition, the scene appears as if it were at the end of the world. This nearly archetypal display of a landscape is necessarily imbued with the most diverse implications, and reducing happenings to only those introduced by natural phenomena generates a distinct contemplative charge within the photographs. The absence of humans, in fact, of any hints of human activity (for instance, the photographs never include a scene with a boat or a ship in the distance), paired with the bareness, the universality of ambiance, sharpens one’s perception of the invisible motivators behind events. In her intimate, somewhat hermetic dialogue with the space, the artist selects the point from which one is able to observe changes in the light, in the motions of the wind and the sea, in the time of day and the seasons, and in doing so, she brings awareness to the invisible body of time itself. The space she captures is recreated anew with each photograph, and scenic guidelines, seemingly firmly established (the subject and the artist are always the same distance from each other and the frame always has the same borders), end up softened.
Sometimes an outpouring of sunlight dissolves and nearly negates the dividing line of the horizon, and sometimes breakthroughs of light in a whirlpool of clouds layer the spatial plans of the scene. In some of the photographs the light is such that the parallel surfaces of the sea and the sky, with their subdued hues, resemble painting canvases, and the sea is captured in all of its permutations, completely overtaken by the brilliance of the light, with white waves, enraged by the southern wind, or murky and thickened.
Regardless of the seductiveness of the scene (or its infinite variations), the suggestiveness of the series Brsalje isn’t only due to how the artist notes natural phenomena, no matter how sensitive she is to features of light and how they shift. Neither is it only due to the exquisite technical photographic skills displayed, which offer the almost-tactile sensation of the sharpness of the rocks or, for instance, the sea that is flecked by the northern winter wind. Observing the sequence of photographs of Brsalje initiates in the viewer, among other things, questions about borders: the borders of the frame, of the sky and the sea, of the time of the events therein, as well as the constitution of the borders of our own vision and being within time. of the frame, of the sky and the sea, of the time of the events therein, as well as the constitution of the borders of our own vision and being within time.
From Foreword by Rozana Vojvoda
Ana Opalić (Dubrovnik, 1972) graduated in Film and TV Cinematography at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb in 1997. She has been exhibiting photography and video art since 1991. Using autobiographical sequences, the artist deals with the questions of identity and belonging, the destiny of places and recording changes in the relentless flow of time. Her relationship towards the surroundings has moved from including the surroundings into the questioning of the category of identity to engaging with the story and the memory of a specific place.
Language: Croatian, English
Size: 13 x 20 cm
Publisher: Ured za fotografiju, 2017