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Galleries – Mara Novak: Darkness has a hole




Without him you would not be able to look at the exhibition here (because without him GÄBS not even a here), and yet you usually do not notice him, although he is permanently there, constantly around you, but usually keeps himself in the background, pushes around there shyly. Mara Novak now turns it into a motif, an object of artistic debate: the exhibition space.

“Duct Tape Love Affair” is something like a romantic declaration of love (okay: CONCEPTUALLY romantic), namely to bildraum 07 of Bildrecht GmbH (07 like “seventh district”). And as the title already reveals, a lot of duct tape is used. Together with the many raw, loosely scattered and sometimes lax foam, with which the location is quasi furnished (and which is partly actually used in furniture, as a sofa interior), the first impression may not be the best, everything rather improvised, almost sloppy, cheap. Of course, if you get involved in it with confidence, you soon realize how sophisticated and complex the whole thing really is, which is more than the sum of its imperfect parts.

The camera looks at itself

Foam, adhesive tape, photo paper and Mara Novak: the artist joins her work. 
- © Eva Kelety

Foam, adhesive tape, photo paper and Mara Novak: the artist joins her work.

– © Eva Kelety

In order to get an idea of the pictorial space (or more than just one), the Carinthian (born in Wolfsberg in 1987), who now lives in Vienna, first shrunk it, i.e. made a model (on a scale of 1:10), which she then used as a camera obscura. As a pinhole camera. Actually a primitive device to capture the outside world (upside down and upside down).

However, THIS “dark chamber” is not a simple box with a hole, but a double chamber, as the space in the pictorial space is divided into a more intimate front area, thanks to the generous window front, extroverted, almost exhibitionist front area and a more intimate rear area. (Logically, the true-to-scale replica has no windows. Just window niches. Otherwise it would be a “Camera clara”, a BRIGHT chamber.)




Line the inside with light-sensitive photo paper or place on top of it, and at least as important are the various color filters in front of the hole or in front of the holes. So that light and space merge into sensual plays of colours, into diffuse picturesque abstraction.

The foam stands on the ceiling

Pale pink, purple, turquoise, red, green flow picturesquely into each other, the floor plan is clearly known, sharply demarcats against the total black, and sometimes the white studio tiles specht in from outside. The flat spatial projections, in turn, are “spatialized”, superimposed, folded, fragments become “display sculptures”, wall and floor objects, often get an architectural framing that repeats forms of the gallery space like an echo. Last but not least, the flexible foam in this site-specific installation reacts to the curves and edges and picks up on the curves of the ceiling.

An intimate chapel: to worship the room? From Mara Novaks "Duct Tape Love Affair". 
- © Eva Kelety

An intimate chapel: to worship the room? From Mara Novak’s “Duct Tape Love Affair”.

– © Eva Kelety

The boundaries between the realities and dimensions blur everywhere, the place is reflected in the glass in front of its image. And the manufacturing process is an integral part of the staging. So there are always some filter plates stuck somewhere. (If they don’t neatly organize themselves into the “butterfly collection.”) Even the lyrical titles of the individual works go back to these colorful things. (“Loving Amber”, “Spring Yellow”, “Waterfront Green” . . .) And when can you look at a room from outside while you are in it at the same time?


Arjun Sethi
Passionate guitarist, gamer and writer. Lives for the perfect review, and scrapes texts until they are razor-sharp.
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