Insert from the book ‘History of art under construction’ by Sonja Abadjijeva, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje Macedonia. Publisher: Nova Makedonija, no. 2377, pp. 10, 2002
‘…One of Nada Prlja first exhibitions, entitled ‘Walking on the Water According to Dr. Knaipp’ (1996) was exhibited at the Center for Physical Rehabilitation in Skopje, Macedonia. The installation occupied the unusual and somber space of a local hospital for rehabilitation, which as an artist’s strategy, suggested the possibility of using non-gallery environments for exhibitions. Prior to this, in Macedonia, unusual spaces had rarely been used as alternative venues for exhibitions.
She was also one of the first to use media art which was highly undeveloped at that time in the region [first Macedonian cd-rom project ‘Icon on Silver’ (1996)]. Her many solo and group exhibitions have frequently produced influential works of art that have since been referred to and often reflected in the works of other, newer artists in the Southern East Europe region…’
Walking on the Water According to Dr. Knaipp
Site Specific Installation, 4 Nightgowns, 4 eachings, video projection, animation, Single screen video animation, 5:00, colour, loop. 1997
Music: Kokan Dimusevski
Exhibited: Center for Rehabilitation, Skopje, Macedonia.
Nada Prlja started her artistic activity at the end of the 1990’s with a series of solo exhibitions in Skopje. Amongst these was the exhibition entitled Walking on Cold Water According to Dr. Kneipp, installed within the Institute of Physical Rehabilitation in Skopje, in 1997. This installation/exhibition functioned as a reenactment of the therapeutic healing methods developed by Dr. Kneipp, an 18th century Bavarian priest and practitioner of alternative medicine (hydrotherapy). In one of the institute’s spaces, a series of female nightgowns were positioned (apparently floating) in large, water-filled concrete basins; the white nightgowns were imprinted, in the area of the chest/heart, with drawings of Dr.Kneipp’s healing methods. In an adjacent space, floating above a vast metallic tub for water treatment, another nightgown was installed onto which, instead of an imprinted drawing, the flickering image of a video was projected. The video consisted of a series of repetitive, dreamlike sequences of images of the real spaces of the institute itself.
What was so very fascinating about this particular exhibition was precisely the combination between the fragility and vulnerability of the represented body (the sensuality, sadness, fear, pain, and melancholy imprinted on the whiteness of the gowns) with the incredible and somewhat daunting presence of the real space itself, with its inner layout and architecture. This combination is visually highlighted by the transition from the real towards the virtual space as the topography of the space (with its angles, curves and condensed diagonals) was projected, through a video beam, onto the region of the ‘body’, marking thereby not only its exteriority but also its interiority. What is crucial here is the transition towards interiority, towards that which could be described as pure subjectivisation: the subject as the impression of reality, or rather, the impression of reality as an inner map of the process of subjectivisation and identification. And there – where one would expect to find a sense of fulfilment and density, a firm inner support – instead, paradoxically, a void or rift appears, a line of externalisation. An inner distance, which cannot be surpassed. This is why the wound can never heal, and the pain cannot disappear..’
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