Petra Mrša visited China in 2014, where she recorded a traveller from Europe visiting tourist and some less known locations in Beijing. By following this traveller, resigned, tired, astonished, from behind, in detail, she opened the path to the segments of Chinese culture, which she subsequently elaborated through directed still life photography, video works, texts, maps, artifacts. By virtue of circumstances in the given opportunity, and during a completely informal visit to the Asian continent, Petra found yet another chance to present and express the openness towards the different.
This documentary-fiction multimedia narrative is the result of Petra’s interest in the circumstances experienced, social conditions, inhabitants, and their interrelationship. The research she began after the journey included various methods and sources, from Google and Baidu, through an interview with Mitja Saje, a Professor of Chinese History and Writing at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, interview with Lynn Ni, a Professor of Chinese Language at the Confucius Institute, interview and collaboration with Yang Bo, a Tai Chi instructor, to a workshop with students from the International School of Paris and collaboration with the Chinese artists: Xiaojie Fu, Xu Guoxiong and De Hao at the Cité Internationale des Arts Residency in Paris.
After collecting a lot of material, Petra decided to focus her exhibition in the PM Gallery on the three main topics: traditional Chinese architecture, spiritual practice and contemporary economy, the qualities of which have become the principles of the exhibition itself: dedication, softness and experiment. With such approach, she creates a hybrid space of understanding and experiencing that loudly alternates with the adopted simplified images of the presentation of the Other.
Taking as a starting point the theory of expanded and extraterritorial identity, through the work creation process, Petra also questions her own identity. By taking a step away from the learned stereotypical view, according to which the inhabitants of China are most often seen as the victims of the political regime or exoticism, and by learning about the affirmative constructs of another culture, she expands the space of freedom and skillfully transposes it into the process of creating the exhibition and expands her previous artistic expression. With this exhibition, Petra offers an innovative view of the medium of photography, which, mediated by the hybrid research, ceases to be the representational means of a place in front of the camera, and becomes a network of associations through which the viewer takes an independent journey and finds answers to the questions of otherness, diversity, exclusion and universality.
Curator: Martina Miholić
Designer: This town needs posters (Sven Sorić i Hrvoje Spudić)
Installation shots: Matko Vodopija