Živa Božičnik Rebec – Towel Collection

The iterations (one towel, two towels, three times a towel) follow in a line that reinstates the identity of an object, the identity of which was never at risk. No threat of dispersion in sight, no misuse of its meaning, function, cultural or societal role — yet they affirm their representational counterpart without ever becoming or fully alluding to one. The collection does not consist of actual towels per se, nor of objects resembling them, but more so of a dynamic between the frame and the fold, the glare and the colourisation.

From pigment to glare, to discolouration, and from a stand supporting the vertical fold to the surface supporting a horizontal one, it wicks away the notions relating to water and modes of absorption in order to compose a dynamic, an intimate caress, of a peculiar hygienic endeavour.

Živa Božičnik Rebec, TOWEL 1 (from the Towel Collection), exhibition view Next of Skin, Glass atrium of Ljubljana Town Hall, photo: Lara Žitko

The collection namely gathers an amorous force, of which the towel, as an object reaffirmed, is merely a contingent residue. Like the minuscule point of contact between a needle and the skin (prominent in earlier works) the construction of the virtual space of care facilitates a (as in vitro) touch of skinless, bodiless dimension, which, reciprocally, shifts and arranges the latex’ surface structures, seams, reflections of light, or lack of.

Touch as in contact, and contact as in ‘barely there’ – the hypothetical, yet stubbornly material complex leads to a strange interplay, in a way, repeating the long and old philosophical debate about the (im-)possibility and nature of barriers, yet also dispensing with it, as with something that has lost its status as a considerable problem; taking from it only the notion of mathematical abstraction, where touch can be reconsidered as a topological issue, and dealt with accordingly – hence, the intricate folding and calculated placement.

Živa Božičnik Rebec, TOWEL 2 (from the Towel Collection), exhibition view Topical Applications, Galerija Simulaker, Novo Mesto, photo: courtesy of the artist

Although one could say that with the shifting of the alignment from vertical to horizontal, from the chrome-like stand to the black glossy surface, the towel is laid to rest, in a way alluding to the conclusion of the collection – the almost cancerous discolouration of once hyper-organic pastel only supporting such an assumption; an assumption, according to which even the intermittent glare of TOWEL 2 could turn out to be nothing more than a partial signal of distress (a code interrupted) – such chronology only stifles the drama taking place between the glare and the shine, between the light immobilising the gaze, and the light enabling it, crafting sight of its own accord, organ-less and drifting.

Živa Božičnik Rebec, TOWEL 3 (from the Towel Collection), detail, photo: courtesy of the artist

TOWEL 3 currently on view at PREMIERE 2018 – 4th Triennial of Young Artists. Cultural Body, Space, Placements, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Celje. 5. 10 – 2. 12. 2018. More info: https://csu.si/en/exhibition/premiere-2018-cultural-body-space-placements/

Author: Domen Ograjenšek

Writer, art critic, curator, PhD candidate at the Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien

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