The photographs of Hrvoje Slovenc are partly molded by his immigration from Croatia to the United States and the accumulated social attitudes from an outsider’s perspective, as they also are by the formal models of Yale mentors Gregory Crewdson and Philip Lorca diCorcia. A master’s degree in biochemistry from The University of Zagreb in 2000 prior to emigrating here to pursue a passion for photography perhaps led him to exactly the sort of understated link between appearances and relationships and the social attitudes that underlie them, codifying and commingling the degree of meaning that is unseen except after long study. 
Untitled IV (Tea Party), 30 x 97 inches

“Home Theater” presents a series of photographic narratives with its characters mainly absent. The spaces are charged with an off-stage dramaturgy that is revealed as the daily and ritualistic practice of S&M. The role-playing becomes more important than the terminology as we are made to understand that the setting, combined with the aesthetic fetishizing of all places and appearances leads the viewer to a greater understanding of what intimacy means. Certainly these roles, magnified by the specificity of their role in sexual gratification, exist in otherwise “normal” situations, though they are nebulous and undefined, relating to the social relationship extending beyond private quarters rather than between two people with desires that do not mix with their communal roles outside the home.
Untitled VIII (Squeaky Clean), 30 x 79 inches

One photograph, titled October Bliss depicts a room that contains a wildlife mural like something out of a 1950s issue of Field and Stream: deer and ducks frolicking in the tall grass. In front sits a low-slung office chair with manacles hung from the ceiling on either side, just above shoulder height. The room has drawn curtains with a single bare bulb on one side surrounded by neat stacks and obsessive piles of hundreds of books. The empty chair suggests the seated person may be subject to either humiliation or inculcation. In Squeaks Clean we are presented with an image of a basement, replete with the meters that measure electricity and heat in the house above, and a copse of standing mops, their heads up, looking like a clique of whispering teenagers. A black metal pole bisects the image into two planes, with an ominous pile of full black garbage bags directly behind it, and a makeshift bed made from a thick wood table. Tea Blessing presents a triptych of a crumbled bed with ornate chinoiserie sheets, cupboards filled with fine china bowls arranged with obsessive orderliness, and between them, a naked man facing toward the far wall, his back covered in scars presumably from beatings.

Untitled IV (Tea Party), 30 x 97 inches

Slovenc is fascinated with the hidden world of socialized interaction, in which minute details that make up a perverted domesticity are the dramaturgical chemistry of our real vitality. His “Home Theater” provides a close look into the subversive sexual world, not as symptom of everyday reality, but as the decoration of it. 

(C) Artillery Magazine, June-July 2012


marinagp said...

Congratulations, David.

All the best, marina urbach

marinagp said...

I would like to see more work of Hrvoje Slovenc.

Killian Fucking Skarr said...

I just read this article in Artillery Magazine where it bore the sensationalistic title of "S&M decor". The photos are of course much more subtle than the idea would seem to imply. While it is certainly understandable that a magazine would seek to grab readers with the promise of something provocative it seems odd that the art itself would delight in the more mundane. This phenomenon is of course not limited to this current example. There exists much exaggeration in arts journalism, where metaphors are meant to invoke the extremes of the human condition. Yet rarely does the art live up to it. Why then is there such discrepancy between what writers and readers alike desire and the art that actually gets written about? Why in your opinion do arts writers invoke all of this deviant sexuality and madness for art that is less so?


David Gibson is a writer and curator native-born and bred in New York City, the New York Art World, and the greater world extending in all directions. He and Jennifer Junkermeier recently curated the exhibition “Beauty’s Burden” at The Ernest Rubenstein Gallery of the Educational Alliance. He is availlable to write essays for artist and gallery websites and catalogues.