Always hungry gaze
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Have you ever wondered whether anyone ever watches the surveillance tapes from supermarkets, boutiques and other stores with video surveillance?
Published:
Always hungry gaze
photography, fine art, installation, exhibition
WORK DESCRIPTION

Series of photographs "Always Hungry Gaze" are part of a project that consists of three related sections.
 
The first section consists of series of large colour photographs (up to 50x70 c m ) with the motives photographed in the period of a year at the "Savica" market in Zagreb (2004 - 2005.).
The photographs represent an entire Saturday, from the placing of the stalls in the early morning to the cleaning of the market in the afternoon. The motives are varied, and besides the visual aesthetics, details, composition and colouring, their documentary approach depicts the verisimilitude of the consumer society, economic competitiveness of supply, and personal stories of sellers at the market. All photographs are taken with digital cameras.

The second section consists of three projections. The first projection show an entire day fro m the opening to the closing of the market, in a sequence edited in fast motion so as to bring forth the flow, diversity of supply and number of customers during the day. The central projection shows me as a participant in the Saturday shopping, the camera following me at the market. The third projection moves the camera to the eyes height, becoming more communicative and lively, due mainly to being held in the hand. All three projections are shown simultaneously and are cyclically repeated every 20 minutes.

The third part of the project is performance in moving a situation from life into the gallery space - placing a lady who usually sells her products at the market - in this new m arket world.

By directing my view at the object and working on myself, my own consciousness and my own life undergo a change. The awareness of nature, health and freedom should overflows to the visitors at the exhibition, spreading the positive energy which abodes in a separate artistic sphere, the art of living. The esthetic dimension of life is complemented - in a wider sense - by existential and ethical awareness of what we do, where we shop and what we eat.
 

ABOUT MARKET - HISTORICAL VIEW

Considering the market and its historical context,  i.e. its origin, we go back in history to the feudal production and barter. The development of society led to a marked division of work and separation of craft from trade, agriculture and cattle-raising. Due especially to the desire for specialization, the need arose for people who would carry out specific jobs which included the transport and selling of goods from one end of the world to the other. Those people needed specific geographic areas on which to carry out their trade, and then establish their habitations.

In the Pannonian area, those places were mostly the elevated dry areas at the intersections of important routes, in front of estates and castles or churches, or in busy areas where there was a large flow of people.

Due to this activity, small squares would be created in these places, and then later the merchants' settlements. Through time, those settlements, depending on the trade power and wealth of the people, developed into free cities. The great expansion of trade was beneficial to the development of money, and enabled it to take on a greater role in the process of barter or trade.

Each such settlement, market town, or city carefully selected the location of the square,  i.e. market, as the most important and recognizable sign of wealth and differentiation. Markets have become the heart of every city, thus influencing the development and encouraging the race in size and appearance of the market and the competitiveness of produce. All this was a precondition for the arrival of merchants from far-away lands with sought-after, rarely seen and precious goods, who visited a market depending on its reputation.

This way, the trade developed - trade that benefited the development of agriculture, cattle-farming, different crafts, and in the end, the development of the city, i.e. state - as well as wealth, whether in goods or money, which was a precondition for the development, quality of life, and the power of a city and its inhabitants.

At the market
by Branislav Oblučar

In my high school days, I worked at the market in Bjelovar on Saturdays, and every day during the summer breaks. I sold peppers, potatoes, beans or peas on my parents' stand, on a rented stall, for a bit of extra money. We polished the peppers the day before and put them in bags, not cheating in the process; we would only, from time to time, place a few smaller ones, or those with specks, in the middle, not to be in the line of sight. I wasn't made for selling, but the work was good. Sometimes I would advertise the produce out loud, "discretely" calling the customers. Once a woman asked me whether the potatoes are "sweet", to which I replied that, for me, potatoes are never sweet , and she, dumbfounded by the anti-propaganda, still bought some. I killed my free time by reading. I used to carry the collection of poems Stišavanje izvora (Silencing of the source) by Anka Žagar, and the people from the neighbouring stalls knew me as "the boy who reads" or "the smart boy". In the final grade, when we became friends, Vlado would often come to see me, usually around half past nine or ten - after breakfast. After that he would go to the library and immerse himself in the "Art History" section, since he then drew a lot, as I used to write a lot, of everything. I think we also discussed it at length at the market. We were planning to open a stall with books there, among fruit and vegetables, I don't know why we never did; there was supposed to be a lot of reading aloud, to make people aware of literature, or whatever. I'm not sure whether these discussions had anything with his recent idea to go to the market in Zagreb, across the street from his building, and photograph and film there obsessively; I think not, but never mind.

Branislav Oblučar : ALWAYS HUNGRY GAZE  
/from Bjelovar City Museum catalogue/

Have you ever wondered whether anyone ever watches the surveillance tapes from supermarkets, boutiques and other stores with video surveillance? Has anyone ever - in a slightly Warhol-like manner - meditated about their aesthetic purpose?

Vladimir Končar's visual project uses precisely this position of an impersonal camera and makes it the centre stage of his own creation. Using a digital camera, he documents the dynamics of a market in a weekly rhythm (on Saturdays), consequently singling out the "decisive moments" of a certain situation from the filmed material. The result is more than impressive: the everyday space and work are estranged by the (voyeuristic) eye of the camera, and their visual potential is emphasized. Formally speaking, here we are dealing with a ludic post-modernist procedure: in the middle of the setting we are accustomed to, colouristic and spatial rhythms can be noted, which lead separate lives and thus almost achieve the level of abstractness: the colours of fruit and vegetables, the carefully placed goods, and the location of market stalls, which are transformed from the morning abundance into the afternoon naked minimalism. But, not to leave the procedure at the impersonal level, Končar uses the video media for a double cause: he uses the movement of the image to emphasize the process-like quality of his work, but also the ambivalence of his own position as the author. The scene in which the author himself is one of the participants of the trade process, walking from one stall to the other, could be slightly ironically given a paraphrased title of Kafka's story: The Artist Shopping , or, even better, The Artist of Shopping . Besides the fact that this act of participation suggests inclusion in the context of the work and erases the classic opposition of the (viewing) subject and (viewed) object, it also questions the consumer component of the given situation. The same can be "read" in the series of photographs on which the author displays bought goods to the eye of the viewer. The rhetoric of these photographs is very different from the previous ones - while those capture the aesthetics of the "masses" (people and goods), these photographs singularize, the result of which is a colouristically sublime dimension of the picture, which is juxtaposed to the purpose of these goods - we can imagine their imminent transformation in a pot, and later on the plate and in the stomach. Although the process of consummation remains unseen, it is suggested: if we use this circulation of food from pragmatism to aesthetics as a metaphor for the circulation of a work of art, we can notice the relevance of Vladimir's work as a process of questioning the position of the visual, especially photographic, digital art today.

Thus, behind this spectacle of colours and shapes, buying and selling, and consummation, which is the propelling force of the modern age, stands the discreet question about the consumable nature of the photographs themselves. This takes us from the ephemerality of the Zagreb market into the likeable heart of Končar's photographs, which in their transience still try and succeed to capture the excess which will catch (and feed) our always hungry gaze.