Water Dragon of Venice – Exhibition in Zadar


Water dragon of Venice project was firs time presented in Galerija Fotografija Ljubljana and galleria of Italian Institute in Ljubljana 2015.WDV project was inspired from Venice lagoon. I spend a year there living on the boat since  I wanted to anchor new period of my life, but it turned out differently. Lagos inspired me to sail on into the seas of Mediterranean and connect in new ways… MED Land project followed…

Time-space-awernes cristalized in form of images is a record of ritual that starts with questions “WHY AND WHAT”  I know I am interested in spaces/places (like Venice lagoon, Mediterranean  islands,..) perceiving them as a living organisms, the sources, geniuslotci of evolving life on it. 

Venice was in the past mastering Mediterranean. The goods are not any more coming over the sea, but the sea itself is still giving the rhythm of life in the lagoon, six hours in…six hours out…

Somehow naturally WDV project evolved in MED Land project. Therefor in Zadar exhibition, an installation of photos, drowings and ceramic sculptures are expressing dimensions beyond Venice, as fare as Aegean islands and seas, as well as element of air.

About WDV project :

The series of photographs was created mainly in the period from July to December 2013 They are a reflection of my connection with the causal-elemental nature, and my search to connect with the active primal points of the space. In the past, the Venetian civilization was already attuned to many of these places, but some of them were once dormant. 

The images are stories – imprints of the pulse of life, which is not explicitly visible. They were revealed to me in a more material, conscious form, through photos. Through the process of the search-tuning-taking photos, I became conscious of new secrets of (my) world. I’m passing them forward not as facts, but only as information, reflecting my actual self. I am not alone in the universe. I interact with so many manifestations around me and within me, consciously or subconsciously. For me, the Dragon2 of Venice is primarily a water dragon… Life-water, Air-water, Fire-water and Earth-water, they are four of the pervading elements of the Dragon being.  >> more

>> The Dragon correlates with my own being(s), which I am aware of: my life source itself, which correlates to water element; my soul self, which correlates to the air element; my human earth self, which correlates to the fire and earth elements. Therefore, I can easily get an emotional connection with The Dragon of Venice. I could identify the Dragon with whom I connected on certain placed in the Lagoon: on Torchello, Giudecca, San Lazzaro, San Servolo, Burano, San Francesco del Deserto, these vast expanses of water where I was staying longer.

Venice is the place where I get married with the water. From 1978 onward, in the period of more than 30 years, I spent more than one year all together living in Venice. During this time, I created photos for four books by Marko Pogačnik, three journalistic projects and two art projects. In the first days of July 2013, I sailed back into the Lagoon…

In my world, water is the essence of life or life itself – forming, transforming and sustaining structure which holds information. The rhythm, the processes and the motion of water is actually the presence of rivers – like the Nile, the Ganges, the Sepik, the Amazon – the presence of the lake… of the sea… and of the Venetian Lagoon… The Lagoon is one of my prime spaces to “sink” into the element of water.

2 Dragon – casual world of the elemental pulse of life of Gaia, planet Earth. In the deep past of Gaia’s evolution, “sparks“, asteroids… certain information from distant stars and galaxies… sparked the evolution where dragon forces developed as a living conscious form of Gaia.

Photographies are complemented with 32 drawings of Marko Pogačnik: The sound of Church of San Giorgio Maggiore and other drawings of Venice.

What we now call “nuclear power” is called “the power of dragons” in the mythical language. Dragons embody the primal forces of the Earth and its creative spirit. The Lagoon of Venice is one of the places where power and spirit of the dragon emerge on the Earth’s surface. Without the presence of the water dragon, the culture of Venice would not have been able to create a model of the new space and time, important for our future and the future of the Earth. The primal forces of the Water provide the foundation and life force to the transformation of the Earth.

Beyond WDV project :

Ionian and Aegean land marks,  olive trees and stone faces

From 2016 – 2018 home of the project became Stari Grad /Pharos – on island Hvar in Adriatic, where also first poetic MED Land stories were created and published. After focus was Ionian islands and lately Aegean islands. I this sense WDVproject is also work in progress… some images from other sites, like olive trees and mineral world, are now also included.

Olives dance its own dance, woven from the stream of life, from the lightest breath to the gigantic dimensions of earth, moving among the stars. They dance its creative dance, through it is expressed earth cyclical pre-wisdom in the flow of constant changes. Olives are the power and the wisdom of the space. In the space of Ionian island, people are strongly connected with olives as they are part of the family that never dies.”

Mineral world can be easily spotted on the naked island in Aegean sea.It revels the fact that the unique alchemy of minerals that happened in specific time, in the the specific place, gives the primal impulses to all that happened after, till now-days. Islands are extremes in their individuality ! >> more

Traveling from one island to another which could even nearly touching each other, is like going from one continent to another! Cyclades especially revealed me the ever present times when mineral world was the predominant, evolving life related to material levels. Each island has its own story of alchemy of minerals which attracted and gave specific potentials to “others” who started to live “here”. Mainland? Uniqueness of continents, countries, landscapes are on that level, the same. Big stone formations on the island,like cliffs, mountains slopes, individual big rocks, on the foot or even on the top of the island, are many times, form of a figure or a human or an animal face, that can be easily recognised. This actually made me uncomfortable since I do not want to see “us” in all and every-thing. I tried to observe rock as abstract informal form, that actually reveals certain senses, awareness..but not “face” . Finally I had to gave up. Minerals convinced me that faces, figures in their time were already evolving forms, created much before “us”. WHY certain rocks, cliffs have such appearance? I can perceive them as guardians, or forms that embody the essence of the lend. They are land-marks, They are alive!


Ivana Petan ceramic sculptures : Bottomless Vessels

Exhibited ceramic sculptures of Ivana Petan manifests a space, resonating between Venice, Ionian Islands and beyond, as connected space, passing the information through movements of water, air and subtle realms of newspaces/ elements that can be touched… embodied in ceramic pieces.>>  more

Bottomless vessels address the question of the life’s grounding place. The foundations of one’s stretching out into the world are routinely the understandings of normality, taught, defined and implemented from the outside world. We question them rarely, but accept as normal and objective truths to live by, although they, as everything there is, are nothing more than subjective decisions, made without our consent. What if I begin to build my vessel, space of dwelling, without the bottom, without repeating the solid, known, the-all-the-same-all-the-time stable and boring, so many times repeated grounding structures? If I follow my individual expression; my own unique way, building from the absent and unknown grounds? The form may crack and crumble down, but it may result in the new form, a new space, something never seen before. Building from the scratch calls for the inner quest and for the decision of choosing the responsibility of who and how I am. Making a choice is always and already a decision of not hiding behind anyone’s back any more. And there has been no better time for that than this moment.

Vinko Srhoj :

The exhibition presented by the Slovenian artist Bojan Brecelj in collaboration with Marko Pogačnik and Ivana Petan in the City loggia in Zadar is not a conventional photographic exhibition. It is a project in which photography plays an important role, but as a part of the artistic concept that goes beyond photography as a self-sufficient medium. It is a kind of tool that we use to decypher the world that is often found behind the appearances, and to recognize what is hidden behind the glittering surface of Venetian motifs, as well as those of Adriatic, Aegean and Ionian islands. In short, this is a story about the world of water meeting it’s origin, about dry-land and people, and a big narrative about life that is unimaginable without water. Water is so ubiquitous, whether as a visible natural element, a premonition or some inexplicable presence, that it is almost mythologised. As Brecelj sees it, it even has a shadow, it is present in the „intuitive movements of the body“ (B.B.) and it also “contains fire in the sub-molecular form” (B.B.). At one point, writing about an exhibition in Stari Grad, one of the main stops of Brecelj’s MED Land project, I named this kind of navigation – a pilgrim cruise. Just like long time ago people would start off on a journey to the Holy Land from Venice, sailing around the Adriatic and docking on it’s indented coasts along the way, the artist began his journey tracing the Mediterranean „as it used to be“ – as the famous slogan says. Venice was his starting point and motivational origin, the place where, together with Slovenian artist Marko Pogačnik, he used to photograph it’s openly-hidden details, in which his companion found energy-cryptograms of the non-visible at first, „turistic“ sight (exhibited Pogačnik’s drawings are lapidary notes that reduce Venetian motifs to their dynamic, linear origin). „Venice is the place where I married the water“, Brecelj states, not forgetting to draw parallels with the centuries old Duce’s ritual of „marrying the sea“ and also with the mythical Venetian dragon slithering along the Lagoon, the same one that the artist feels through the power of water while sailing to Torchello, Guidecca, san Lazzaro, Burano…

The photographs made in Venice are not the ones that would be taken by those looking merely for a photogenic surface of the city. They show reflections, flashes of light, blurry apparitions, mosaics created by light whirls, churches with „moving“ collumns and insolations, shimmering of water in the lagoon that looks as if it has changed its state and turned into a viscous, sluggish matter. It is the Venice watched through downcast eyelids, with blurred indirect vision but rewarded by inner sight.

In Dance with Mary cycle (olives of Ionian islands) Brecelj alighted, landed, we could say. The project finishes on the Ionian islands touching on mythical places such as Odysseuses and Calypso’s island Othonoia, and what connects them is not so much the ancient myth but the ancientness of an autochthonous culture – olive. With it’s millenial life (we know that some olive trees exist since biblical times, besides, isn’t it that Christ ascended to heaven in the Olive Grove, just as Jewish eschatology anticipates that those who are buried on it will be the first ones to resurrect?), starting from 1600-year-old specimens on the island Brijun, the “old ladies“ in Kaštela and the ones in Lun on the island of Pag, to Greek islands, the olive tree became coeval with the Mediterranean cultures. On the east coast of Adriatic, that today belongs to Slovenian-Croatian-Albanian coastal transversal, the same as on Ionian islands, „people are strongly connected to olives, they are that part of the family that never dies“ (B. B.). The olive tree on Bojan’s photos rises from the land like Antaeus, even from the poorest one. The hardnes of it’s trunk, the armour-like cortex, the texture that recalls a rock, millennial fertility, makes this tree a companion of humans, a being familiar to generations and the only one immortalised. This is why olive is an arche-tree, history of man himself, the one from whose trunk, as a symbol of fidelity, Penelope and Odysseus’s bedroom was made, while Homer compared the oil of its fruit with liquid gold.


Ivana Petan’s ceramic work has something archetypical as well, in its form that seems to have remained in the beginning of shaping, before something had become a vessel, a vase, a usable object in general. Besides, in her wavy vessel-like forms it is not possible to place food or liquid, because they are bottomless. They are shapes with a potential of usage, prototypes of vessels, or, as the author says, „at the very end, there is no sure conclusion that „this is it“ (…) I can feel the very end, maybe I cannot reach it? And suddenly, a decision is made – the end!, that in the next moment could easily be just one more pause in the processing” (I.P.). Still, regardless of the „incompleteness“ , or doubt in the completeness, Ivana’s shapes are concise, they don’t need further evolution because they have reached the same organic primal originality as that olive tree that inhabits the Mediterranean landscape, as if it was always there, in the simple functionality of the eternal shape.

Posted by bojanb
5 years ago