A new project of the young multimedia artist Vanja Babić builds upon the already established practice of critical examination of micro-politics and local contexts, as well as broader social problems on a global level. Babić’s approach is derived from his educational and work experience in different areas. Elements from the fields of engineering, electronics, information technology, science and ecology appear in his projects. He often combines the research-based artistic practices, capable of precisely locating problems and posing ethical questions and dilemmas, with hybrid artistic forms and unpredictable disciplinary interests and technical solutions. Thus, he achieves the specific articulation of artwork in which elements of the visual and conceptual structure of the work are very measured, thoughtful and harmonious. By their nature, his projects are processual, socially engaged in their intention and often interactive in their presentation. Besides the problematic and aesthetic aspect, communication with the audience is extremely important for him. Accordingly, the space of Babić’s activity also includes the observer, it invites the viewer’s engagement. The value of his art is precisely in the fact that it is able to engage us (physically and psychologically), its purpose is reflection and activity.

In the focus of research that the artist conducted in Split and its surroundings is the problem of consumerism, specifically the side effects of excessive production and consumption, waste creation and recycling, as well as the relationship of its citizens to these topics. By combining the methodology of his previous work that includes personal experience, research, archiving and presentation of the observed phenomena using the media of photography, video, object and installation, Babić showcases the constructed situation whose goal is to force visitors to confront numerous aspects of the aforementioned problems, such as the improper disposal of dangerous construction and demolition waste and unavoidable consequences of man’s irresponsible treatment of such waste, as key problems in today’s society. Because of increasing quantities and its damage to the environment, waste is considered one of the gravest ecological problems in the contemporary world. One of the most important priorities of the European Union is precisely the disposal of dangerous construction and demolition waste as the principal condition for reduction of environmental pollution, and thereby the preservation of human health, plant and animal life.

This effort to raise awareness about different problems, encourage strategic thinking and activate collective consciousness/conscience are some of the important goals of Babić’s artistic activity. Implementation into the daily communal and social reality and a concurrent local and global quality that enables the work to communicate well in different contexts makes his projects particularly powerful. Each new exhibition builds on those that preceded, while the artwork is inscribed in multifaceted programmes and becomes part of multiple scenarios, where nothing is finalizing and everything is actually a moment in the never-ending chain of contribution. His work is a network that is created through negotiations between the artist and the observer. The meaning of the work is created precisely in that interrelationship, in the meaning bestowed by the user, as much as the artist himself.

Marija Stipišić Vuković

VANJA BABIĆ (Zagreb, 1984) graduated from the Zagreb University of Applied Sciences in 2008, and holds a Master’s degree from the Animation and New Media Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, from 2013. He started his exhibition activity as a student, and the same year he graduated he won the Essl Art Award, the Becks fine arts scholarship and a special recognition at the exhibition Energy, organized by INA and the Academy of Fine Arts. He staged several solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group exhibitions and artistic actions in Zagreb, Koprivnica, Vienna, London, Switzerland, and elsewhere. In 2017, he was the resident artist in the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, as part of the programme of residential exchange between that institution and Pogon, Zagreb Centre for Independent Culture and Youth.

Inspiration and motivation for his artistic work in recent years is based on examining the governing social and cultural postulates, consumerism, marketing, role of money in society, different types of labour and workers, problem of waste and recycling, and a manner in which people shape their lives in relation to those parts of the system. https://vanjababic.wordpress.com/