Josip Klaić –
Gesture and Space: The Sacrifice of Performance and the Victory of Image

On the example of a series of photographs by Edward Steichen (Isadora Duncan in the Parthenon, 1920), Krešimir Tadić (theatrical performance of the playlet Allons enfants! by Ivo Vojnović, 1971), and Zlatko Kopljar (performance K9 Compassion, 2004/2005), an attempt will be made to examine the relationship between recorded gestures bodies (sacrifice and kneeling) and the spaces of performance themselves. The gesture in the photograph will be read by different authors (H. G. Gadamer, G. Bonifaccio, E. Panofsky, S. Cvetnić) as a direction that leads to a full reading of specific spaces (M. Heidegger, J. Burckhardt, Ž. Paić). Over time, the spaces lose their originality and remain bleak because those who were in them (gods, rulers) are no longer there, or if they are there, they no longer hear (institutions). Therefore, the protagonists of the performances, now the characters in the photographs, remain pale figures of bleak spaces, those that were once spaces of art. Each of the three examples, although different from their initial photographic intentions, in its own way testify to the victory of the image over the act of performance itself. Suppose the selected examples are already by their act of performance the impossibility of binding the body to concrete spaces that are crucial for their understanding. In that case, photography is a double distance from them.


Josip Klaić (b. 1991) is an assistant at the Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters. He graduated in Art history and Archaeology at the University of Zagreb. After his internship at the Museum of Contemporary Art (2018/19), he acquired the title of curator. He worked at the Ministry of Culture and Media 2021/2022. Also, he has collaborated with several museums, festivals, and independent cultural institutions. He is the author of several exhibitions and several scientific, professional and critical texts. The interests of his research are the art of the second half of the 20th century and the theory of photography.