Phony Smile: Photographic Interpretation and Aesthetic Speculation

22 February - 1 April 2023

Phony Smile. Photographic Interpretation and Aesthetic Speculation


In association with Galerija Fotografija, Ljubljana, Office for Photography presents the neo-avant-garde art practice of the second half of the 20th century in Croatia.

The exhibition presents the work of Edita Schubert, Petar Dabac, Željko Jerman, Vlado Martek and Željko Borčić, directed at a radical examination of photography which mostly happened in the 1970s. That is precisely when the ontological questioning of the meaning of photography started, a time when the practices which examine the medium through an analytical approach appeared, as well as those which deal with the transformation from a two-dimensional surface into a photographic object. It seems that almost all existing photographic canons have been questioned. Within the context of New Art Practice, which changed the art paradigm of the time from the ground up, artists started to analyse photography outside of limitations of its historic role, that of reproducing reality. By bringing in a series of innovations to the understanding of the medium, both in a sense of formality, content and meaning, artists inaugurate a special speculative-poetic system into photography. In such a “widened” field, photography becomes a polygon for the redefinition of the very nature of art and artistic work.


Numerous similarities between artists who were active at that time – researching, experimenting, and examining the nature of the photographic medium – testify to the existence of a certain Zeitgeist throughout Europe and beyond, as well as to the mutual influences, the exchange of ideas, knowledge and information. This exhibition contributes to visibility and knowledge about Croatian art production in that period, as well as to intensifying, updating and stimulating the continuity of information exchange with the public, curators, artists, theoreticians, researchers and others. Besides, this exhibition opens an important dialogue with the Slovenian experimental photographic scene in order to exchange knowledge about the common context within which these practices are formed.

Installation Views