Darko Bavoljak

The Future

Photography is a medium inherent to which are the characteristics of both absolute objective truth and the subjectivity of the author. The path of the beams of light through the lens and their lasting retention on the emulsion is a fact of objective copying of a part of reality and the truth of it. With the kinds of lenses in the camera and their deployment we can change spatial relations, but we cannot change what we are photographing. This characteristic is the element that gives photography its most important dimension and distinguishes it from other arts. The photographer has before him the reality and the medium he uses. We cannot affect reality, i.e., neither the present nor the past. The present is too short, and the past is behind us. Perhaps we can only affect the future. The future is not and cannot be a symbol or a sign, has only for some at sometime been what for us now is the past, just as our Future will at one time be for some others the past. Abstracting a large part of reality and restricting myself to the Future only as symbol of successful prediction of this time in which we live, I want to show how playing with the future can be dangerous for all those who offer us and plan our Future.

Display windows

In the new photographic series Display Windows Darko Bavoljak presents abandoned Zagreb shop fronts, the premises of failed shops and small businesses and thus creates memories ofa past, a lost, a perhaps better time in the domestic space ravaged by transition, poor governance or perhaps only by the already mentioned inevitability of vicissitude. He allows classification of his work in a new photographic genre, popular in recent years, ruins photography or ruin porn, referring to photos that romanticize demolished, ruined and abandoned spaces, mostly urban in nature, drawing also on earlier trends in the older branches of art. In the words of Bavoljak: “The concept of the exhibition stems from my photographic research into abandoned commercial premises in Zagreb, and in a sense goes on from the series called Future, which documented the war-damaged and abandoned architectural and industrial heritage, and from Dubrava, which documented the graffiti-ravaged facades of buildings and other urban furnishings that only when put there together in the exhibition engendered some new meaning.” Bavoljak derives the maximum of aesthetics out of the scenes of dilapidation and ruin, and the results are flattened depictions, photographs of a fine and almost watercolour aesthetic, of muted chromaticism, bordering on abstraction. The found scenes in the gaze of the dedicated, aware and responsible observer/photographer become a proving ground for a subtle play of characters. Bavoljak is not interested in outright condemnations, and his images are not as aggressive as their contents. On the contrary – they vary from apparently neutral, abstract monochromes or geometrical abstractions to surfaces on which the remainder of some inscription or for example a snippet of an obituary, sticky tape or poster draws attention to the changes of meaning of the space. The category of time is brought in, of duration that-covers all the phases of the existence of the space shot: from original, as the photographer stresses, “premises of small tradesmen who worked for years and provided a living for themselves and their families” to abandoned, gaping holes, the function of which has vanished, while the external glass of the display has become the primary vehicle of meaning,a kind of urban bulletin board on which anyone can stick an advert or anything else he feels like. The whole of the life cycle of the space photographed is compacted into a single shot.Only looked at as a whole does the exhibition give the observer a complete and clear story of decline. (Iva Prosoli)


Darko Bavoljak watches the road before him. The vision is segmented. The story is built up of chopped up parts of observation. The story can be told only in this way, cut into slices. Endless continuity, the way our life is, we have not yet managed to record, we have not managed to tell it, or set it down, or exchange. Perhaps we cannot recreate this continuity just because we believe that we are self-sufficient, an individual defined within itself. But some outside observer would find the truth of human existence quite the opposite, as an existence completely fused into the context. Totally dependent on spatial observation, on objects to which it is directed. To such an extent that the very essence of the living being is in jeopardy. If we do not notice that really important thing we are going to be headless. Our attention is the to be or not to be, it is the safety switch of our existence. We teach children this, but when we have once mastered the skill we stop thinking of it as a condition of survival. – We see at once the road before us and that which is behind our backs, for how else would we drive the car, see to the left and right, see trucks and sun. These visions slip and judder. They change their degree of importance, and thus create the stepped reality of our vision. Darko Bavoljak offers a possible form of notation. Photographic. A photograph is primarily a very short section of time and so it records what other media cannot. Sometimes it records what is hard to see. In any case it can record the difficult to remember. What in life was just a gleam, a flash, becomes a permanent presence in a photograph. Photography extends the duration of the flash to the time of looking at the photograph. Several photos of almost the very same moment record the multiplicity of perception. Our focused and our peripheral perception. This series of Darko Bavoljak’s records, in a photographic manner, the multidimensional observation of travelling. (Marina Viculin)