“Annual Vacation” – Mare Milin

Date: May 5 2023, 3:30 PM

Location: Gallery Lungomare Plaza: promenade at the foot of the Grand Park Hotel Rovinj

“Annual Vacation” – an exhibition of photographs by Mare Milin, produced by the Kranjčar Gallery.

The proofs of absence
You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
Mark Twain

If I would have to define the uniqueness of the artistic eye of Mare Milin, I would probably write that the hidden truth behind her photographs is: they do not represent the signs of presence, but the signs of a certain absence.
Namely, the pictorial intelligence of Mare Milin, which is apparent in the recent few photographic cycles, is visible in the representation of temporary collectiveness, or short (impossible) encounters, that were actually never supposed to happen. The paths, all of a sudden, cross, the sun becomes dimmed in its high, the moon appears as a double vision, the plants erupt…
Something has happened, something invisible, something not representable, however it produced a deep sensory response of the artist’s eye, haunted her and resonated inside of her. These impossible and curious encounters, the result of the artist’s imagination, as well as the technique of double exposure, are also one undeniable proof of her obsession with the world.
Namely, Mare’s never resting eye and her curious glance present us with the favourite surroundings of the artist; the Mediterranean, or the Nordic scenery.
However, those are not some common photographs of the memories from the vacations, and that fact is underlined with the choice of black and white technique; I’d rather call them by the name of visual contemplations.
Standing in front of them, the explanations are futile, because we become aware of the sudden and comprehensive fragility of life, in front of something so material like the stones from the Nordic beach; or almost banal, like the portrait of a woman, with the pale blue sky as the background.

Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes and On Photography by Susan Sontag are the key texts about the theory of photography. Both of the works present the idea that photography, as an act, as a work of art, actually provokes and emphasizes the connection between recollection and yearning.
Indeed, the photographs by Mare Milin are rooted in a big amount of nostalgy, which can be defined as a melancholic act of longing. The artist offers us the definition of a melancholic object- as the one which was born afar, undefined; as the one that marks perceived separated reality, which one can recontextualize by one’s experience. There is no sudden and wondrous metamorphosis of the composition in her photographs, or coloristic curiosities, or motive extravaganza. She chooses motives that we all, more or less, unsuccessfully tried to photograph, uncapable of transforming of the memory into a lasting, personal vision. However, her photographs, no matter if she takes photos of Swedish summer resort Marstrand, or of the nature trough a bus window, evoke the energy which is lingering within us, the beholders, as well as our attempts to capture the world. Mare sees where the living absence hides and in which scenes it maybe still hovers. The fig, the lake, female silhouette from afar- the most common objects in Mare’s photos become symbols of enigmatic and inscrutable wisdom.
Photographic scenes are filled with clarity of a certain place and time. The event which will never recur once happened there. There where we can never ever come back. The photographs remain.

Leila Topić



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