Fotograf Magazine

Vlasta Delimar

The ambiguous eroticism of Vlasta Delimar

 

I.

Things come full circle. I am writing on a theme that adopts the strategy and the sorrow of proximity. At the same time, I have never been so far removed from the artist, after nine essays dedicated to her work, and after ten pre-erotic, or post-erotic years spent together in the shadow of a begotten daughter. So in lieu of a foreword, I offer some incontrovertible and merciless facts. Time has passed and eroticism itself has become like old gold – valuable in itself, in the melancholy presence of the departed protagonists. Eroticism is a dream. A dream that has vanished, that lingers, etc.

Eroticism is the leitmotif of the artist’s works. It is omnipresent within them, in many forms. It is the story of a great hierarchy, and of a present escalation. All of this enters in grand style into the discourse of the content itself, which so frequently gives rise to the form. Then it becomes a catalyst, and it is quite possible to glimpse superiorities that then alter the frames of reference. In spite of this, there remains visible the defeated territory of the body, or the diminished territory of the psyche. Even so it is possible to reconstruct with our gaze the artist’s departures into the realms of sub-meaning, into totally neglected territories of intimacy, the domain of defeat. In the mirror – such as art offers – defeat is naturally the winning card of the dynamic difference that the artist taps into to, as well as the visiting gaze. Eroticism, the erotic, Eros – are just one such gaze, merely multiplied. Art and works of art are always a cross-section, a phenomenon, a symbols, a material fact.

Are there Romantic women-artists? And if there are – how does one describe them? This is an impossible task for me. I like to dwell in the anteroom, the domain of subtle rulings of theory, reading, encountering brave punch lines. I am addicted to the victorious. In this we are alike. But it is here that any similarity ends. Eroticism and good are initially in harmony with their differences, but they quickly cancel themselves out with all ways of life.

Eroticism in art takes me by surprise. Such art is symbolic. Not one genuine arousal would I sacrifice or resign to art. Maybe from this point of disagreement I may begin and end my little essay on Vlasta Delimar’s eroticism in art, but in order not to sin against freedom, against the right to individual regrets, joys, mistakes, discoveries… And so I venture on the romantic analysis of concrete works, testimonies to embraces, kisses, emptiness, fullness…

 

II.

One of the first and most striking features of Vlasta’s eroticism is the body devoid of clothes. And in tandem with this, the tendency to be on the hardest-hit side of eroticism. In any case these are the most striking features, yet they do not monopolize the image as such. The interpretation and replaying of the image might consign the protagonists to oblivion, but the romanticism of their presence does not allow it. We are in fact confronted with a conjugation that lays bare the viewer’s mind.

The literal moments in eroticism testify to the erotic power at the artist’s command, and they can be regarded in a non-erotic context. That is the key moment of the poetic of the present essay. The psyche is absolutely non-erotic, if we place it outside of the frame of reference stemming from Ancient Greece. This is a jarring road, if you expect any explanation at the end, or any explicitly articulated nuance. Maybe in reading the present essay we will learn something about the troubled mediation of eroticism, or perhaps as both the author of the essay and the artist stand at different ends of the dichotomy of truth, there slowly disappears the consensus of the translation of eroticism into the shroud of romance. But this is not the author’s fatal standard. O dialogue – tortuous as you may be, one cannot do without you!

There gleams the skin of the naked body. The response is age-old. Only the actors of life change. This guarantees an incessant preoccupation with truth and falsity. The strange, but naked body is closer to falsity than to truth. Yes, all expectation ends in the manifest fact of the matter. But when her flimsy dress flutters about Vlasta’s body… at the end of the day, when one must draw conclusions, the opposition of the naked versus the clothed body results in a monologue on love. Where is eroticism then?

 

III.

Eros is the red thread of life. Even the dark Eros of belated or premature passion remains part of the main thoroughfare of life. Details and pictures of violence, romance, of bodies dressed or undressed, amount almost to a manifesto (in the case of Vlasta Delimar, all of these are taken together as fuel for eternal embers). Everything that we have learned in the course of one’s life is woven into the texture, in photographs that present either sequences or moments of performance, or a tableau vivant – a living sculpture or an installation composed of the naked body.

In any case, whether from a distance or up close, one can hear the din of falsehood imposing itself either between the sexes or other social inequalities, one can feel the pain, the injustice of some parental ill assessment, the product possibly of another civilization (patriarchy, tribalism, etc.). We may suspect here the artist’s hidden sorrows, or childhood yearnings, speak of a mirage of happiness. To put it succinctly: the content is powerful and nuanced, but often one aspect is more insistent than others. For instance – the measuring of one’s corporeal eroticism against the environment of the banal stereotypes of morality, object, relationship, or incident.

Is it possible for eroticism to make up an entire philosophy of life, an attitude symbolizing the artist’s tragedy? An answer offers itself when looking at photographs of Vlasta’s works. It is as though the insufficient communication has receded, somehow falling fatally short, and the convulsion of the work of art as it were has plunged us anew into the universal void. The artist is a witness, not only within her mind, but in some strange way also in her body. It is the metamorphoses of clothes and nudity, the transformations of suggested intimacy as well as the body as an epic social fact that all make up the dynamic of the body’s many meanings. The mother’s body, the lover’s body, the body of the wife, all make up or take apart one’s bond to society, one’s own environment, and last but not least, they also form part of the chaotic relation to contemporary art. Art today is witness but also part of the everyday, non-symbolic life. This turns it into a dramatic figure of the encounter with Truth. A minimalist distance against the totality of the world and its technologies is both its glory and its downfall. Vlasta’s works, performances and exhibitions testify in equal degree to her intimate knowledge of the joy and suffering of artistic work, which is so close to becoming life itself, just as there is a slight preponderance of calculated life in art.

 

IV.

The sum of the relations between the sexes present in Vlasta’s works has one peculiar moment, though not overly dramatic as to stick out of the general framework. I highlight it as someone intimately acquainted with the artist, and for intimate reasons. Almost every single work that I am familiar with of Vlasta’s presents the woman at odds with general traditions and expectations. The expectations of the father and the state are nothing but darkness. The nude body, that tiny light, will decide in favor of a break, a departure, even risking that it might never find happiness. The figure of the man is only one in the line of figures to be sacrificed, exhibiting rebellion and a golden chance for an individual truth, which seems to demand the return of something that had been taken away, which has been lost.

 

V.

The infinity of meanings offered by Vlasta’s interventions with the notions of the body, nudity and eroticism cannot confuse the viewer with expectations of their own…

Particularly if there is an empathy towards the destroyers of taboos, or the builders of nothing.

Vlado Martek