Goran Bertok: Hunger
Opening: 19 June 2020
19 June – 18 July 2020
Goran Bertok’s body of work reveals a profound consistency in the depiction of the human body in certain borderline aspects of life and, above all, in its transience. While focusing on the creation of staged scenes with motifs of unconventional sexual practices, especially from the field of sadomasochism (series Omen, Stigmata, etc.) in his early period, he later turned to a more radical exploration of physicality. This soon led him to the ultimate theme—the physical death. He devoted much of his work to this topic, both through direct visual confrontation with decaying bodies (PostMortem, Visitors), as well as through the portraiture of those who experienced immediate proximity to death (Survivors). By presenting the body “moving” in the immediate vicinity of death, as if having a “love relationship” with death, he somehow logically continues along these lines in the series Hunger. The series is, however, not about a classic duel between Eros and Thanatos, since there is not much room for Eros while Thanatos dominates, so we can only speak of the “love of death” as the ultimate essence of everything in the material realm.
Bertok deals with the transience of the human body also in his latest series of works, this time, however, from a slightly different perspective. He introduces us to a tortured and exhausted, weary body, bearing the consequences of extreme physical and psychological experience of giving up food. Again, Bertok does not question the personal, psychological, or social motives and circumstances that brought the subject of his depiction into such a state. The artist compares the experience of anorexia with other borderline experiences, be it the so-called SM practices or the survival in the extreme conditions of concentration camps, which he has dealt with in his former projects and photographic series. Thus, the purpose of the project is not to “photodocument” the phenomenon of a disorder or disease, but rather to question the very nature of our physicality, our relationship to the emaciated body and the pain that we presuppose or feel when looking at the proximity of death.