Sonce žareča voda

Zoran Srdić Janežič
Galery Kemijski inštitut
14. November – 15. December 2021

O projektu

Zoran Srdić Janežič is a sculptor of the middle generation, whose artistic practice (despite its obvious contemporary conceptual starting points) insists on the incorporation of his works into the classical language of sculpture.

This year’s exhibition, “Sun Glowing Water”, in the gallery of the Institute of Chemistry, also has a classic look at first glance. The sculptural works very clearly go back to the very origins of European civilization, for one can easily identify fragments of classical Greek and Roman sculpture (fragments of a copy of Phidias’ Athena of Lemnos and part of a Corinthian column), and these fragments are precisely embedded with themes that are clearly contemporary in their material and form. With the little booklet that comes with them, the kind you would get when buying modern technical goods as an ‘instruction manual’, we realize that these statues are also apparatuses that can be used to extract hydrogen from water. A closer look also reveals that the fragments of sculpture and stonemasonry are in fact scanned relics from antiquity, stored on the interwebs as Europe’s accessible heritage, which Zoran Srdič Janežič was, therefore, able to print with a simple 3D printer and assemble as a three-dimensional collage with new contextual relationships.

When the philosopher Ivo Urbančič, in his meditations, refers to science as the destiny of Europe, he is in a sense touching on a similar structure to the one that Zoran Srdič Janežič (in)puts in front of our eyes, when he palimpsests layer upon layer between the historical, conceptual, material and even political contents of these contemporary sculptural “allegories”. For if Urbančič accurately parses science as that which challenges every natural phenomenon to its availability for further research and technological curiosity about the raw material, Zoran shows us this in a light in which it is still possible, at least on a formal level, to recognize that part of openness to the world from which “being” still shines as something that we have not yet fully challenged into availability.

Heidegger looked for this same openness in the philosophical sense in the pre-Socratics and found it in the very openness of language, of speech. And in these, perhaps a little ungrateful comparisons, I can also see Zoran’s sculptural reference to ancient sculptural and architectural works as a kind of search for relations in which (despite the thoroughly modern pre-arranged materials, the processes of collaging prints, the functionally-available natural elements, the processes of production itself, which have been technicized to the extreme, and even the meditations on natural energies), the question of access to the surplus still arises? To the expansiveness of artistic language and language.
So the basic question concerning art as the core of culture, which always hides a kind of cult: does the sacred still shine in the world or does it glow for us of the desire for certainty and availability, does even water glow?

Jiři Kočica

Zoran Srdić Janežič returns to the Kemijski inštitut with his intermedia installation Sonce žareča voda, which literally translates as Sun Glowing Water. The author previously collaborated there together with the exhibition’s curator, sculptor Jiri Kočica, in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Roman Jerala working on a special kind of Slavoj Žižek portrait within the project Point in the Eye – Drop in the Horizon.

In that exhibition, the authors, together with the Department of Synthetic Biology and Immunology, created nano-images of the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek using the DNA origami technique. In a study of the influence of ideas on society throughout history, 33 philosophers were discussed, represented by familiar portraits, and ancient philosophers by stone ones. This time, in his installation, the artist thoughtfully brings the concepts of antiquity and the Baroque visual paradigm – light and energy – to knowledge and science, and also in this work questions the Baroque relationship between light and (God’s) light, between lux and lumen. In the intermedia installation Sun Glowing Water, he presents three three-dimensional constructions relating to light, energy, and knowledge, through an art historical context, where he presents “replicas” of the ancient goddess and patron of science, Palade Athena (more specifically, fragments of scanned statues originating from Lemnos, inspired by the works of the ancient sculptor Phidias) and the construction of a column with a Corinthian capitol, which relates to the theme of light and knowledge that the artist had already developed years earlier in an installation with artificial intelligence (Eppur si muove iluminare) and which thematically related to Plečnik’s columns.
The conceptual references to light and knowledge are the sculptor’s conceptual starting point and the new works could be seen as mere statues. In the formal field, these works existed somewhere as sculpture, as material heritage, they were scanned or modeled in 3D space by individuals or institutions according to pictorial references and made freely available with attribution. Srdić Janežič takes these virtual objects as his starting point and transforms them into a new work of art in his heritage of conceptual post-modernist sculpture of the Ljubljana School: he processes the virtual objects in a computer program or physically. He constructs them into apparatuses – the sculptures are assembled through machine elements interacting with other elements through which we can only subsequently ascertain the purpose of the artwork.
The author constructs each work individually as one way of producing hydrogen as an energy source. Each work is thus a hydrogen power plant of its own: the full-scale replica of Athena uses a photocatalytic method of extracting hydrogen from water, a fragment of the replica of Athena uses a method of extracting hydrogen from water by heating carbon electrodes, and an inflatable column with a Corinthian capital serves as a reservoir for the classical principle of extracting hydrogen from water by means of electrolysis, an element designed by the artist based on the structure of the water atom. Each work is accompanied by a notebook containing a transcription of the protocol for the extraction of hydrogen from water, which is continued in the working plan of the artistic device. Srdić Janežič chose the protocols from those available primarily because he found them visually interesting to implement during his study approach.
Since his student days, the artist has been questioning the relationship between value and worth, ethical issues that he expresses through his artworks. In this body of work, he addresses the questions of the future in which our society finds itself. The abandonment of fossil fuels by 2050, replaced by fuels that are renewable and have a low carbon footprint – this is the total amount of greenhouse gases that are produced as a result of our actions. The artist does not offer his installations-artworks as small power plants, but rather as a reflection on how much each individual can reduce his carbon footprint through his actions: less energy consumption instead of a big demand for unlimited quantities. Srdić Janežič’s power plants reflect the knowledge and possible ways of generating renewable energy and through this the value of energy generation.

Zoran Srdić Janežić

Sonce žareča voda
(povezava na slovensko stran zavoda za sodobne kiparske raziskave)

14. November – 15. December 2021
Galerija Kemijskega inštituta

Author: Zoran Srdić Janežič
3D modeling: Cveto Kuneševič
3D printing and electronics: Erik Krkač
3D printing: Erik Krkač, Zavod Kersnikova – Rampa, RogLab
Manufacturing of hydrogen electrolitic cells: Jure Popović
Woodworking: Primož Mihevc
Metalwork: ključavničarstvo Uroš Mehle, Janez Bizjak

In this project 3D models were used: Guido Maurizio: Korintski kapital, SMK – Statens Museum for Kunst: Lemnaška Atena, po Fidiji in STW – Scan The World: Lemnaška Atena, po Fidiji, fragment
The exhibition also presents an artist’s plan for the production and transport of hydrogen and water via an autonomous aerial vehicle. Authors Zoran Srdić Janežič and Cveto Kunešević.

Curator: Jiři Kočica

Thanks to: prof. dr. Blaž Likozar, mag. Peter Bastl, Cinkarna Celje, Marko Meglič

Production: Zavod za sodobne kiparske raziskave, 2021
Producer. Matena Bassin
Support: Mestna občina Ljubljana, oddelek za kulturo and Ministrstvo za kulturo Republike Slovenije