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Renata Poljak


Galerija Kranjčar, Zagreb

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Renata Poljak
10 min 20 s
Format & Technical

Single channel, HD video, colour and black and white, sound
5 + 2 AP

  • Music: Iva Ivan
  • Produced by: Tomislav Stojanovic
  • Sound mix: Ivan Ivan
  • Photography: Boris Poljak
  • Costume design: Sonja Obradovic
  • Cast: Dajana Culjak
  • Special thanks: Dalan Sow Reed, National Theatre in Split

While it may seem trivial, the detail that might best summarise the philosophy behind this video is its duration: 9 minutes and 30 seconds, repeating in a loop. This simply indicates the automatic continual repetition of the file (like the videotape in her first research projects during the 1970s). When it reaches the end, it starts again from the beginning. Like other resources derived from technological experimentation, looping can conceptually strengthen and expand a work.

“Partenza”, both in Italian and in the dialects of the Croatian islands on the Adriatic Sea, means “departure” or “starting point”. If a starting point exists, we can presuppose a point of arrival as well, and —why not— the possibility of return. In Poljak’s work, completing a basic syllogism, the possibility of start would be infinite, in loop.

The black and white film begins with the re-telling of a story from the artist’s past and the region in which she was born: the migrations at the beginning of the 20th century took thousands of Croatian men to lands in the south of Argentina and Chile. Their wives stayed behind, waiting on the Mediterranean coast. This is just what the film depicts: a group of women in silence, waiting at the beach —a tense wait that, historically, was in vain.

It is during this wait that the unexpected takes place. The women get into the sea and go under the water. The camera framing totally changes: the wide perspectives of the beautiful Croatian dunes turn into a short submarine view. Underneath the water, the image re-colours, symbolically returning to the present. What it shows us is no longer the drama of the departure and wait symbolised in the female group, but the tragedy of a current departure: clothing and belongings lost in the depths. It is impossible not to think of the stories of the emigrants that daily try to cross the Mediterranean, many of them losing their lives in the sea.

And so Partenza becomes a tale of updated memory, of continual movement… and of eternal return. If we were nihilists, it would be the tragedy of existing potential in a being who winds up repeating the same story. The notion of a linear History with an inherent aim and an evolution was already questioned by Nietzsche, who instead favoured a conception of the world in constant movement, in loop. Transcendence does not exist there, and the instant is, at its core, eternal and complete. Like in the moving image, like in the experiments with videotapes. Like Renata Poljak who, with the gesture of continual reproduction in this work, redefines her research at narrative, technical and philosophical levels.

Marta Ramos-Yzquierdo



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