Back to heritage 2014

Follies and Ruins: Between Incompleteness and the Imagination

This exhibition brings together several international artists based in Croatia, Scotland, Germany and the USA, , focusing on the theme of follies and ruins under the broader concept of ‘Back to Heritage.’

The Back to heritage project has run continuously for seven years and was initially set up thematically relating to the first Croatian novel ‘Planine’ (Mountains) , transferring the novel into the context of modern artistic practice.

Ruins are not only remnants of past civilizations but also a mirage of collective memory that is facing a future. We have always been drawn to ruins, structures that may no longer accord with their original purpose, and to follies, ornamental parts or purely decorative motifs on great estate buildings of the late 16th century, incorporated into the tradition of the ruins, and flourishing in the 18th century garden architecture. Follies spread throughout the 18th and 19th centuries across Europe and beyond, the signifiers of ancient ruins, located in more and less expected places, including places where the Roman Empire had either never existed or left at most only residual traces. Old stones, new stones, lots of gravel… Ruins and follies continue to generate Romantic ambience for contemplation, projecting what may appear as idealized versions of the past. Yet, ruins also have a future and reflect the workings of human memory. Fragments of memories or scattered fragments of stones are all part of a jigsaw or a clue to a puzzle, reconstructing the past experiences, the past encounters, past constructions drawn from perceptions of an incomplete reality and vivid imagination. Memory is fragile and unstable, somewhat fragmented and ‘stimulated’ like a folly; it is a drifting process at a risk of losing its depths or even foundations. The connotations of madness seem to purposefully reflect a general meaning of the French word ‘folie’.

Ruins, an impeccable metaphor of human condition; once upon a time, the spectacular edifices in all its grandiose had crumbled into pieces, revealing their skeletons, with nothing to hide….a sound statement on the transiency of our existence. This exhibition brings together artists whose work invites to experience cultural remains perceived as a metaphor not as an artefact as such. When we contemplate the ruins, in a way we contemplate our future. The artists in this exhibition address processes of representing and reinterpreting cultural heritage, reflect upon contemporary uses of archaeological remains and probe into follies of human memory in the context of Scotland and Croatia, drawing on the legacy of different influences: the legacy of Roman civilization and the Gothic revival’s heritage of Follies in prospective localities.

Chris Dooks, Rachael Flynn, Martina Mezak, John Mullen, Karen Lebergott, Sarah Ludemann, Josip Zanki and Damir Kamenar, Sasa Zivkovic

University of Zadar, Croatia. Sept 5th – 13th, 2014.
Organizers: University of Zadar and University of the West of Scotland
Art directors: Katarzyna Kosmala and Josip Zanki
Assistant curator: Sara Čičić

Exhibition catalogue Follies (2014):
with contributions from Katarzyna Kosmala, Josip Zanki and Sara Čičić as well as artists participating in the exhibition. Katarzyna Kosmala and Josip Zanki will write essays, and the participating artists will introduce themselves with statements, short texts on art works. Students of the University of the West of Scotland and the University of Zadar, drawing on their own practice and research as well as Interstices symposium organized in CCA Glasgow in March 2014 will contribute to the project.