Text by Patricia Pocanic about "On the Beach"


In the works of Goran Skofic, the human body represents the centre of research, while the manipulation of the body and the medium as well as the multiplication of the body occur as an immanent part of his photographs, video-performances and multimedia installations. In most cases, the recorded, edited and presented body belongs to the author himself, which makes his works inevitably auto-referential and auto-representational. Although the body belongs to the artist, it never represents (merely) the individual, but is transformed from individual to the general – the representation of social control, manipulation, or absurdities of everyday life. By performing his own “self”, Škofi? therefore does not articulate individual identity, but rather a web of social representations and articulations of sociability that are consciously and unconsciously taken by the Self and given back to the society. Although the artist’s body is not shown in the work On the Beach (2016), the same concept recurs in multitude of different performative bodies dressed in black, which enter the unknown without hesitation and disappear. The bodies perform a multitude of roles and interpersonal relationships which simultaneously reflect the Self of the artist and of the observers, thus including them in space and time of the everyday life in which they belong. The roles, however, are performed and transformed not only in the represented but also in the relationship of the medium toward the observer. The film was recorded in a single subjective frame from the position of the observer. In a darkened exhibition space, the subjective frame, as well as the sound of the film, draw the observer into the work, whereby the transformation of the visitor from the role of the observer into that which is observed is subtly developed.


The frame is visually divided into seemingly minimally dynamic three parts – the beach, the sea and the sky, in which the subjects of narrative eventness – the human bodies – intervene. The human bodies, the dialogues and the movements carry the plot of the film, but their manifestation extends beyond the projection limits. We can hear them walking and talking in the sound background that fills out the exhibition space and draws the observer into the work, whereby the media transformation of the real space is potentiated. Crossing the boundaries of the medium itself, but also the boundaries between the real world of the observer and the virtual world of that which is shown frequently occurs in Skofic's works; this time, the crossing takes place as soon as the observer approaches the projection in a darkened space: as if the film's atmosphere, frame and the bodies exit the real exhibition space, and the observers join this procession and become part of that which is observed.


Crossing of boundaries is thus twofold and occures from the real into the virtual world, but also from the realistic representation of the film into a surreal, unnamed place to which people depart, which is additionally emphasised by the disappearances and the recurring statement “you're seeing things” by the film's protagonists, which questions and relativizes both spaces. To the observer and the film’s characters, regardless of the space in which they are situated, existential questions are imposed – Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? What are we doing? What do we want? The artist does not answer these questions and leaves the field of meaning and interpretation open, and therefore also the work itself. According to the author, this is a departure, the changing of space, the movement of society. Changing of space can be personal, but also collective. The film was shot immediately prior to the recent major political migrations, and its open structure can also be interpreted within said context, but it is primarily wondrous due to its rhythm and the manner of departure or disappearance. The process of departure is made wondrous – people calmly depart without much consideration. The possibility of reproduction as a film with an end or a video installation in a loop is also opened to twofold interpretations of the time: linear in case of a film, and cyclic if screened in form of video installation.
The spatial and media manipulation occur in narrative eventness by selecting the form of screening, but also in interventions in less dynamic parts of the composition – the beach, the sea, and the clouds. The artist manipulates the abstract traces left in the sand, the waves and the seemingly static clouds following a storm. The poetics of its own of the back plain of the narrative eventness unfolds, indipendent surreal image develops, the level of media manipulation of which cannot be perceived by the visitor even upon intense observation, and which are opposed to the realistic representation of the narrative part. The manipulation of elements beyond the focus of the observer, but also the exploration of statics and dynamics, of the image and change of time is another principle frequently used by Skofic. In this work, as well as his other works, a kind of minimalism, purification of elements and technical precision prevail. Everything and all that matters occur within the frame, while the sound of the film becomes a sculpture within the gallery space.


By using the aforementioned methods, elements and performatives, Goran Škofic creates an artwork that nearly abandons the classical hierarchical supremacy of narrative eventness. Even though the narration is emphasised within the film itself, the subjective frame, the image shown, the sound, the atmosphere, the minimal manipulation, the exceeding the boundaries of the medium and space, all occur as equally significant dramatic and narrative elements. All procedures and means are mutually articulated and duplicated; they function individually but also jointly, just like the human body that is shown. We cyclically return to the human body, as in the course of the film as well, and find an open answer – what we are individually and where we disappear separately is that from which we return and what we are collectively.