Photographs by Živko Bačić depicting themes of cultural and natural heritage are the cause behind and the main content of the exhibition titled Heritage in the Camera Lens. The retrospective character of the exhibition project organized by the Museum of Fine Arts is reflected in the seventy exhibited black and white and colour photographs, taken with an analog or digital camera between 1982 and 2016. In his long career at the Regional Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments, which is now called the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Conservation Department in Split, Bačić became one of the best Croatian cultural heritage photographers. While working with his conservationist colleagues of different professions, he realized early that Change, Transformation and Aging, are the topics that fascinate him. It is therefore not strange that his rich body of work is significantly tied to his professional engagement.
His long recognized and appreciated photography is characterized by objectivity, informativeness, balanced shots and steady expression. The optimally clear motive regularly contains a vital charge. Regardless if the object is small or large in size, mobile or static cultural monument, preserved or ruined, the photographs maintain its internal energy. In some cases, the artefact on the photographs looks more dignified than in reality thanks to the author’s scrupulous approach to everything he films, with no exception. This type of approach is significant considering the origin of the motives, which span from Classical antiquity to the present day, and their versatility, from tools, applied and fine arts objects and books, to sacral, profane and fortification architecture and urban settlements. A number of places and sites are represented: Split, Salona, Trogir, Šibenik, Zadar, Church of Holy Salvation, Cetina, Stari Grad on Hvar, Vrboska, Dubrovnik, Perast… Nevertheless, most photographs are tied to Split and its cultural heritage within the Diocletian’s Palace, like the Peristyle, Vestibule, the Substructures, old Emperor’s Mausoleum – the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary, better known as St Domnius’ Cathedral, or as the locals call it, St Duje’s.
Landscape photography can be singled out as a separate whole within Bačić’s extensive body of work. Frequent field trips have provided him with an opportunity to view truly wondrous areas. He discovered and captured them from different points of view while walking to his destinations, or driving along the road, sailing and flying in a helicopter. The most impressive are the aerial shots taken over Poljica, Kornati, Pag, Imotski field, Brač, Omiš hinterland… More than the pristine areas, the photographer is interested in those places that are marked with paths and drywall, as well as the small green oases created by human hand in the middle of the karst. The drywall depicted on the rocky soil in individual photographs reminds one of the painting interpretations of the Dalmatian Hinterland landscapes by Frano Šimunović.
Even more so than his photographs dealing with the topics of cultural heritage, the landscape photographs reveal the true nature of the author. They do not attract attention with powerful, or shallow effects, the same way as he himself does not impose, but instead meticulously reconstructs the artificial and the natural in the camera lens, constantly searching for measure and harmony. The seriousness of the expression sometimes gives way in the modestly humorous photographs with an anecdotal character. The lion relief which sizes up the fragile plant in the courtyard of the Ćipiko Palace in Trogir, the dialogue between a pigeon and a naked stone putto on St Mary’s Church in Zadar, or the pigeon on the head of the Blessed Virgin Mary statue on the church on Silba are some of the examples of photographs with an artistic marking in Bačić’s exhibition. But, just like it is impossible for an exhibition to encompass every segment of the artist’s work, it is impossible to describe everything in words.
Živko Bačić was born on September 30th 1946 in Zadar. His family comes from Lukoran on the island of Ugljan. He attended elementary school in Lukoran and Preko, and Gymnasium in Zadar. He completed a photography course in seventh grade. He moved to Split at the end of 1965, and year after became a member of the photo section of the Student society of folk technique “Ruđer Bošković” (later known as Photo club “Ruđer Bošković”). He started exhibiting photographs even as a high school student. From 1967 he exhibited as a member of the aforementioned photo club, where for a while he performed the function of president. All of Bačić’s written and photo-documentation archived in the photo club was either taken away or discarded at the beginning of the war. Starting from 1973 he worked as a photographer at the Regional Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments in Split. He retired in the same institution, which is now called the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Conservation Department, in 2013. He continues to photograph monuments and artwork in cooperation with the former institution, as well as other national cultural institutions. His photographs have been published in a number of domestic and foreign magazines, scientific publications and books, and have been exhibited at dozens of exhibitions. He has been exhibiting solo from 1977. Along with a few tens of thousands of photographs depicting cultural heritage, art photography has been included in his rich body of work. He is a member of the Croatian Association of Artists of Applied Arts (ULUPUH). He was the recipient of the Split Salon Award in 1983 and the “Vicko Andrić” Collective Award in 2001.
The exhibition remains open until 18 March 2018.