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Artist duo TARWUK discusses their solo exhibition in Italy, ‘Ante Mare et Terras’

Croatian artists Bruno Pogačnik Tremow and Ivana Vukšić speak with STIR about their art, which grapples with the ideas of identity, memory and war.

by Shraddha NairPublished on : Nov 22, 2021

Bruno Pogačnik Tremow and Ivana Vukšić are two New York-based artists of Croatian origin who have come together to create TARWUK. The artist duo, TARWUK functions as a singular identity for the work they develop in tandem with each other. The artists talk to us at STIR about their recent exhibition titled Ante Mare et Terras, which is currently taking place at Collezione Maramotti. The show is their first ever solo display in Italy and is on view, and free to visit, until February 20, 2022.

Details of Tuzni Rudar by TARWUK | TARWUK | Ante Mare et Terras | STIRworld
Details of Tuzni Rudar by TARWUK Image: Courtesy of TARWUK

TARWUK’s collaboration is beyond the plane of professional or creative, rather roaming into the space of spiritual. When I asked them how they came together, they responded with poetry, “ “The flesh was not always so soft and fragile. Before it was two, there was zero”. This is a quote from our personal mythology. We live in and between two narratives. One is factual, and follows the Gregorian calendar and laws of physics, while the other one, which we get to access frequently, is not so linear. Maybe an answer to this question should be that we were never separate, just unaware of our unity until we started working together back in 2014.”

A view Tuzni Rudar by TARWUK | TARWUK | Ante Mare et Terras | STIRworld
A view of Tuzni Rudar by TARWUK Image: Courtesy of TARWUK

They continued saying, “It was in New York, in Chinatown, that we got our first studio. Immediately we breached the art-life distinction, so things evolved really intuitively and without any plan. It was impossible to keep our practice separate from daily life, and it was more fun if there was no distinction. There was this energy between us and a huge potential that we felt we should harvest. We set off as two individuals making work together, then along the way we became a duo with a singular identity. Through various mediums like sculpture, painting, drawing and video, we dedicated ourselves to experimenting with selfhood. Today we regard TARWUK as a condition, and we are no longer able to reside outside of it. We can't look back, and what lays in front is hidden from us. We can only feel the immediate moment in a limited capacity attached to human mechanisms we inhabit.”

KLOSKLAS_74HRz.kkot by TARWUK | TARWUK | Ante Mare et Terras | STIRworld
KLOSKLAS_74HRz.kkot by TARWUK Image: Courtesy of TARWUK

At Ante Mare et Terras at Collezione Maramotti the artists share four large sculptures and a series of drawings. The sculptures explore the form of the human body, and the multiple ways in which it can exist. The sculptural works come from a deep, internal probing into the subconscious and questions of identity and memory. The artists tell us more saying, “The evolution of self is something that is central to our work. For the Collezione Maramotti we present four large sculptures and 12 drawings, connected together by the idea of metamorphosis. Each figure is a frozen step in the progression, or if you prefer deterioration of the anthropomorphic form. We consider them suspended in the point between growth and decay. So, the work for the Ante Mare et Terras is a sequence, depicting four stages of evolution.”

A drawing based artwork by TARWUK | TARWUK | Ante Mare et Terras | STIRworld
A drawing based artwork by TARWUK Image: Courtesy of TARWUK

The body of work presented at Collezione Maramotti has been developed over the course of the last four years, since 2018. The works use materials like steel, polyurethane foam, epoxy clay, rubber, wood, BQE relics and various detritus of human presence. Much of the material used in the artworks have been salvaged from the artist’s walking around New York, exploring construction sites and debris left on the roadside. Although their art is physically manifested, the penultimate goal of their practice is an innate feeling of growth in a place beyond physical. TARWUK says, "We have always considered our studio to be a laboratory of some sort. But it’s not materials, forms or images that are being examined and cross-pollinated for the possibility of creating ‘The Magnum Opus’. We feel our main work happens in building the bond/relationship/condition that we call TARWUK. If we use the alchemical vocabulary, then that is the work. The objects are just tools for this investigation. Each of them represents a single experiment, and each of them leads to the next one.”

Both the artists experienced the struggle of war in their lifetime. This experience, although separately lived, forges a bond between them which others (like you and I living in relatively peaceful times) would find it hard to understand. TARWUK shares their experience of the division of Yugoslavia saying, “As children we experienced war, the dissolving of the federation and the forming of a new country, violence, fear, pain and struggle. Ruins of the world as we knew it became a place to play in, to build your own world from the debris of the real one. Social structures collapse and one has to learn to create new ones. A lot of what we are now, of what we want to become or what we want to escape belongs to our childhood. The dreams, the poetry, the illusions. Did growing up in a war-torn country shape us? Absolutely. It influenced even the generation that was born long after the war came to an end. Factual information goes along with those coordinates — where we are from—so it makes sense that that specific information is out there, but it’s also a very personal trauma that we rather avoid talking about.”

A portrait of the artists | TARWUK | Ante Mare et Terras | STIRworld
A portrait of the artists Image: Courtesy of TARWUK

The artists leave us with a thought from Tao Tê Ching -

He produces without taking for himself,
He acts without expectation,
His work done, he is not attached to it,
And since he is not attached to it,
His work will remain.

What do you think?

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