23.07.2021 Ľubomír Slovinský: The Vanishing Underground


Official opening: 23 July 2021
Duration of exhibition: 24 July – 26 Sept 2021

Mountains were their source for living, the wealth which stood behind both the cultural and economic development of towns and cities. Mountains were also inspiration, places where they spent most of their time. They were called Waldbürgers, people drawn to mountains. With their activity, they had a significant impact on the landscape for centuries. 

They de-forested the landscape to make charcoal, but mainly, they kept changing the landscape’s character by building numerous mining works and introducing other mining-related phenomena. The Waldbürgers altered the countryside to the extent the technological progress of the time allowed, which was one reason why the topics of landscape conservation and ecology in general were not issues in their times. However, the long-term boom was followed by a fall. After the closure of the mines, these regions were destined to decline, symbolised by the vanishing signs of mining activity in the countryside.

It is inspirational to watch how nature handles this mining history, gradually taking back human interventions. The artist sets off to explore these vanishing worlds, identifying himself with an imagined Waldbürger. In the surroundings of the town of Gelnica, the area of the artist’s focus, there are tens of kilometres of underground worlds, having hundreds of manifestations on the surface. The artist’s individual explorations are actions with clearly stated motivations but without a clear goal. In the form of GPS tracks, the final image of his actions is concentrated in a map, informing the viewer of an important context.

The mining-related phenomena found in the landscape are the subject of the artist’s record and reflection. Being aware of a slow but irreversible transformation of these places, his intention is to capture their current state. Ephemeral video-projections made at distant sites in the mountains illuminate the archetypes of mining-related interventions in the countryside. The collection of Artefacts found during the artist’s fieldwork also confirms the presence of mining activity at the researched locations. As well as the signs of mining evident on the surface, there is also the world of the underground spaces in the Jozef mining tunnel. The video entitled The Probe is a natural reaction to the need to know, as if it were a prolonged opportunity for a human being to see, to reach out in an inaccessible space. The digital animation Re(z)aktivita (Cut-react) highlights two important phenomena, the elements of water and time, each contributing to the vanishing of the underground.

Because of its character, the project balances on the edge between art and research, confirming the artist’s wider interest in the topic and communication of it beyond the world of art. In this exhibition, Ľubomír Slovinský presents a selection of works reflecting his long-term dedication to the topic.

About the artist:
Ľubomír Slovinský studied at the Academy of Arts and Design in Bratislava, in the Art Design studio; then at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague; and at the Academy of Arts in Banská Bystrica, in the Digital Media studio.  He is the co-organiser and curator of the multi-genre festival Gelnické iluminácie (Gelnica Illuminations). He has presented his work at a number of group exhibitions and festivals both in Slovakia and abroad. The exhibition in the Jozef Kollár Gallery is his first individual presentation. Ľubomír Slovinský lives and works in the town of Gelnica, SK. 

The “Vanishing Underground” project was selected by the Gallery Board from more than 30 applications received during the Open Call for beginning artists in 2021. The exhibition is presented in the START UP hall which will be used for the presentations of young contemporary artists in the future

Photo by: Lubomír Lužina

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