skupna izložba / Posters of the Split Film Festival 1996 - 2018
Posters of the Split Film Festival 1996 – 2018
- The View
On the first poster of the Split Film Festival (at the time still titled International Film Festival) in 1996, there was a pair of gazing eyes. The big picture of a direct gaze was certainly provoking discomfort to the observer, which was probably intended by the artist, Gorki Žuvela.
Namely, according to psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, the moment when a subject understands that he / she can be observed as an object, they enter a state of anxiety because they lose a certain level of autonomy. This is closely related to his, often denied, mirror stage theory when a child, upon looking at a mirror, realizes that they have an outer appearance (which can be caused by any object, not just a mirror).
While the English language contains a whole range of expressions (view, glance, sight, gaze …), Croatian language recognized only one word to describe all these nuances (pogled). Thus, pogled can describe the focus of an eye on someone or something; the expression of the eyes as a reflection of one’s mental state; the way of judgment; a point of viewing; that what is revealed to the eye, the sight; the way of looking at things, thinking, understanding, worldview, belief.
If we are talking about visual culture, then the most common English equivalent to pogled is gaze. It is a concept that most closely connects with Michel Foucault and Lacan, a concept that was applied to film theory by Laura Mulvey. In her 1975 essay „Visual Pleasure and Narative Cinema“, she applied Lacan’s theory of view (albeit wrong, as some authors like Joan Copjec and Henry Krips argue) in order to analyze the language of classical narrative cinema (so called “male gaze”) through the feminist prism, arguing that “psychoanalytic theory can be used as a political weapon, demonstrating how the unconscious of the patriarchal society has structured the film form.” According to her interpretation, “there are three views in cinematography: camera view, audience view, and protagonist view … this complex interaction of views is specific for cinema.”
Whether referring to the aforementioned theories or not, Žuvela successfully reversed the conventional logic as observers / passers-by are those who watch the poster and receive information. Instead, observers are being watched. The fact that these are the eyes of a Split photojournalist Feđa Klarić, who is always behind, not in front of the lens, the observer / subject, and not the observed / object, confirms Žuvela’s intent to break the visual convention. The eyes are slightly deformed and, instead of the usual shape, they are rectangular, which evokes the concept of the screen and / or cinema canvas and even the mirror.
The visual poster is equally “dynamic”: in addition to eye shape manipulation, the thin red vertical text cuts through the black and white photography into two slightly asymmetrical parts (one in the shadows and the other illuminated), thus disrupting the concept of symmetry as the ideal of “harmonious” compositions.
Žuvela decided to play with similar visual and semantic elements in the following year. A black and white photo of a naked male torso with small horizontal text on a red background undermines the usual visual codes on more than two levels. The torso is without head or limbs, therefore without identity, symmetrical and parallel with the surface of the poster, thus passive. This way, the artist deconstructed the West European convention of displaying a man as an active subject. Furthermore, instead of the navel, a single human eye observes us – aside from being in the “wrong” place, it is also without its pair.
An unquenchable reference to the “omfalos” (“the navel of the world”), which according to canons known to us from Egypt to Dürer or Leonardo da Vinci, is not merely the geometric center of man, but also a point that symbolically divides man into that part of his body that aims upward, toward the sky – the upper “Apollonian” part of the body, and to the one that is attached to the earth and urges – the lower “python” part of the body.
By introducing a surreal element on both posters, Žuvela brings an element of awe and surprise and moves away from the illusion of objectivity of the photograph as a documentary medium, reminiscing of Victor Burgin’s 1976 essay “Art, common sense and photography“, according to which, “…manipulation is in the very core of photographs; the photograph could not exist without it. ”
The motive of the eye and the issues of view appeared later on several other festival posters, bringing new levels of meaning. Thus, in 2001, Alem Ćurin created a poster with an eye cut by a razor, which served as a metaphor for the sharpness of the festival’s conception, the break with the traditional perception of film and art.
Unlike the aforementioned versions where the eye was directly looking at the observer, Duje Škarić’s variant on his 2012 poster shows a gaze looking up and to the side, outside of the poster space, ignoring the observer. That year’s festival concept was Resiste, so the choice of a decisive and angry view was quite a literal interpretation. It is again a big picture of the gaze, which here clearly alludes to the ideological level of meaning, the subject of resistance to the system as such, visually underlined by a red inscription.
A year later, a white, void background of Joško Buljanović’s poster was showing a gazing eye with a red iris, a hybrid of the notorious Hal from Kubrick’s Odyssey and Big Brother. This was more about Foucault’s panoptical view of control and data collection. He wrote about the view to illustrate a certain dynamics in the relations of power and disciplinary mechanisms (“Discipline and Punishment“, 1975) such as surveillance and self-regulation in prisons and schools as power apparatuses. The three main concept she introduced were panopticism, power / knowledge and bio-power, and they are related to how people modify their behavior when they believe they are constantly being observed, even when they do not directly see who or what is watching them. Today, living in a society of surveillance and surveillance cameras (which can only somehow justify the title of objective recording of reality), in which the public space is vanishing, the issue of the view and viewing takes on completely different meanings. Absurdly, every view is ideological, apart from the surveillance camera’s view, which surgically cold and completely objectively records what is in its field.
Finally, the jubilee poster from 2016 was actually a photo taken from the air, and from the bird’s perspective tiny human figures are seen (random passers-by and volunteers forming the festival logo, along with their long shadows on the grid of concrete blocks of the Split Riva. The visually effective frame is actually equivalent to the so-called God’s view, so, contrary to Žuvela’s reversal of the convention, the observer regained the power, in accordance to the theme of the festival “Self-importance (blessing or curse)”.
- II) The Canon
Modern posters and film art grew at about the same time, at the end of the 19th century, and they probably present one of the few artistic symbiosis that developed for mutual benefit and survived to this day.The history of film is unimaginable without the history of the film poster, and vice versa.
Although the first film poster dates back to 1895 (made for the Lumiere brothers), the first poster for the film festival was created several decades later, in 1932, for the first film festival in Venice. It was more than 80 years ago, but even then the canon of a film poster was established, which was, to a lesser or greater extent, in various ways referred to by designers to this day. There are two visual elements: film roles and strips as symbols of film art and symbols of the location where the festival is taking place.
Split conceptual artist Neli Ružić was addressing the reinterpretation of canon on her poster for the 3rd Split Film Festival. A horizontal format framed with a black border with white lettering resembles the film strip, and within the frame, the surface is divided to proportions similar to the golden ratio: a black and white photograph and a red-orange blank similar to the end of the film or photo strip. For the first time, the fish tail graphic design of the festival logo is shown. According to the artist herself, the field of her artistic activity has been for 20 years based on the research of personal and collective memory mechanisms, the strategy of oblivion, the concepts of archives and documentation. Therefore, it is not surprising that the poster showed a black and white photo of a group of women in a pool that was evidently found in a personal or photographic archive, linking the present of contemporary photography and film to the past of these media. Even Duje Škaričić‘s 2005 poster is a very free variation of the canon with a more abstract approach, where the dark vertical rectangle upon a light background is cut by straight lines, which remind of a chemically treated film and / or the motif of light on the surface of the sea. Four years after, two basic elements are again recognizable: the black upper and lower edges and the photograph of the vestibule of the Diocletian’s palace. However, the innovation was represented by replacing the film strip with a digital camcorder that does not float in the air, as it often was with film strips and tapes, but the filmmaker was holding it, turning his back to the viewer (at the moment of shooting the festival’s trailer). Thus, the theme of voyeurism through the camera is multiplied: the view of a cameraman on one side, the view of a random passerby who recorded the cameraman from behind, and the view of the poster viewer.
III) The Quote
Another convention is present in the design of the festival posters, which is quoting the films themselves and the appropriation of visually recognizable scenes or frames. Referring to the film’s history is therefore another proven approach.
John C.Welchman has proved how much the method and strategy of citations became an important socio-cultural phenomenon when he dedicated his entire 2001 book „Art After Appropriation“. The basic principles are that we live in a culture of borrowing and citation, which has its historical continuity from Dadaism, through pop art and postmodern to today. This approach redefines the issues of authorship and relationship between origin and imitation as aesthetic and philosophical issues. “The avant-garde, neo-avant-garde, and post-avant-garde quote has the role of provoking meaning and destruction of traditional and high-modernist organic integrity, artistic purity, reductivity and intuitive originality on which an artwork is based (Miško Šuvaković).”
In the context of the SFF, Zlatan Dumanić was the first to reach this strategy in 2000, which should not be surprising because Dumanić regularly referred to avant-garde artistic movements in his work. The scene in which Rick plays chess and talks with the opportunist Ugarte, with two darkened dialogue boxes, is complemented by the phrase “Split serial killer B.R.” (instead of the original text “cannot be rescinded not even questioned”), playing with the absurdity of media fascination with death and its spectacularization.
Citation and appropriation as an artistic act is always an act of deconstruction and institutional criticism that perfectly fits into Dumanić’s artistic approach. At several levels, it turned the festival poster: the recognizable red color of the font was replaced by black, but the red color remained concentrated on the pop-art red lips; the text is in the image area and not over it as usual, making a compositional reversal. Finally, by translating the film scene into a static photo upon which he intervened with these methods, he clashes different visual codes.
A year later, Alem Ćurin reinterprets the cut eye scene from the Andalusian dog by Luis Bunuel. Bunuel’s first film was created in collaboration with the painter Salvador Dalí and is actually a screening of his dreams, one of the main inspirational drivers of surreal art. In the original, the cult scene of a woman whose eye is cut with a razor captivated with its insane brutality and graphic representation of violence, which was significantly lost in Ćurin’s “translation” of the eye cut by a razor with ‘Split 2001’ written on it.
Split art painter Jadranko Runjić recontextualizes another cult scene from film history: a scene of a rocket hitting the Moon’s eye from the 1902 film “Trip to the Moon”, in a way that the rocket hits the sphinx on Diocletian’s peristyle. Finally, the 2017 poster shows one of the most cited scenes of Western art in general – Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Most commonly, only a part of the scene is quoted, the touching of hands, since this way it is easier to enter new meanings, as evidenced by probably the most famous example in film poster history, John Alvin’s poster for the “E.T.” (1982). In this case, the same motif interprets the theme of the festival “(Cruel) Reality – Virtual (Reality)”: the warm, earthy tones of the original painting were replaced by cold, blue tones that enhance the sense of passivity and lifelessness of the left, human hands. In this case, it is most likely that it is about extinction of life energy, instead of the opposite. IV) Freestyle There are still some posters that have defined the visual identity of the festival, but in ways that do not fit into the categories mentioned above. In 1999, Vinko Pelicarić collides different meaning and visual codes: a very classical motif of a group of horsemen (which can be taken from a classical western film, but because of the blurriness they are semi-abstract) is combined with the font and the idea of computer graphics, which is in line with the design trends of the late nineties, when computer design features were only getting to be discovered.
Maroje Mrduljaš, in his Design and Independent Culture publication, defined this phenomenon as follows: “The very phenomenon of “independent culture” deconstructs the boundaries between “high” and “popular” culture, between artistic work and various forms of activist activity. For this reason, design for an “independent cultural scene” is directed precisely towards crossover concepts that combine different sources and aesthetics and where different aesthetic and cultural affinities of designers are recognized … the protagonists of “’advanced design’” for an independent cultural scene” are often referring to aesthetics that occur in different areas of contemporary culture, especially design related to pop music, which they felt personally. ” In 2002, Boris Ljubičić, one of the media’s most iconic Croatian graphic designers, superposed two photographs and pointed to the basic difference between film and photography, which is movement. Namely, film meaning comes from a combination of images, in the way that two adjacent images create third meaning. Another similar issue was explored by Peter Bilak in 2003, when he used four photographs of the local beach showing a “stranded” plush bear, actually showing four stages of a wave. Although they are photographs, the fact is that it is a linear sequence of events, reminding that film is actually a series of moving images, and that is what introduces dynamics and even stories with an introduction, a twist, untying and an end. Although a typography designer, Bilak is not the artist of a very graphically effective font on the poster, and putting the text inside an imaginary rectangle that does not correspond to the visual element introduced the visual impression of a poster within a poster. Jadranko Runjić in 2004 played with another typical film symbol, the director’s chair which, as if in some horror or action movie, he ignited, which could be another approach to breaking the idea of authorship and authenticity.
In 2007 and 2008, Duje Škaričić returned to the beginning of the movie posters with an illustrative approach, and in 2010 Mia Perčić Lukačević was playing with archival photography and the festival logo which, depending on where it was placed, changed its meaning. Thus the fish tail becomes mustache and butterfly wings, which is an interesting reference to the relationship between socially and contextually conditioned symbols and their meanings. V) Collective artist vs. artist By 2011, poster designers had almost completely free hands in designing a visual aspect of the festival, but afterwards posters became graphic-visual interpretations of the festival team, so there was an evident turn to the poster as a reflection of the festival theme.
However, already in 2009 the poster contained a photo of an unknown artist downloaded from the internet, thus turning the festival team and graphic solutions toward changes in creating culture through collaboration, participation and self-organization. The main driver of this trend is certainly the ubiquitous digitization and networking of society through Internet and the new media, following this thought: “All we need is a group of participants who do what they want and that diversity produces culture” (Christov-Bakargiev). Thus, in 2011, Goran Čače shaped the issue of Swiss franc loans, which led many Croatian citizens to the edge of existence, Joško Buljanović helped to realize the theme of “Responsibility, Optimism, Tolerance” in 2013 and “Supervision and How to Avoid it” in 2014, and Ivan Dilberović shaped the theme “Light” according to the advisory and idea of the festival team. ***Split Film Festival is the oldest festival of this kind in Croatia, which has gained the reputation of one of the most important international festivals within two decades of its existence (and survival). However, it is perhaps less known to the professional public that posters and catalogs for the festival were conceived by leading contemporary artists of the Croatian and international visual arts scene. Although the poster as an art form is often separated from the identity of its artist, this essay serves to returning the voice to those artists who, in their own way, marked the festival’s history and contributed to its unquestionable quality and significance. Anita Kojundžić Smolčić
The International Festival of New Film / Split Film Festival is the oldest international film / media manifestation of the Republic of Croatia. Ever since it was instituted in Split in 1996, the Festival promotes new, creative, personal, experimental, radical and subversive works, of all lengths, styles and genres, generally produced outside the mainstream, all the while keeping its primary focus on excellence and outstanding achievements.The Festival programme comprises a selection of titles from recent world film production, films screened and awarded on many well-known (Rotterdam, Berlinale, Cannes) and lesser-known festivals around the world. In addition, these are generally all Croatian premieres, which is why the Festival’s programme is hailed as one of the most significant film festivals in Croatia.The International Competitions for Features and Shorts make for the core of the programme. Particular attention is paid to authors who do not hesitate to explore the aesthetic potential of film as medium, testing the boundaries of the visual language and thereby refining the taste of the audience. Two international juries bestow the Grand Prix upon the best features and shorts from the competitive sections.Aside from the competitions, the programme comprises – or has been known so far to comprise – the following sections: New Media (from the very beginnings supporting a more creative concept of moving pictures – for a few years, this was also a competitive programme juried by a number of world-renowned names), together with Forum 3, Gender, Reflections, Frame extended and Special Programme.As part of its aim to endorse the dialogue between the national and the local cinemas on the one said, and their dialogue with the international film scene on the other, the Festival has realised a number of retrospectives, workshops, lectures and presentations of leading experts from the film art scene. To name but a few of the world-wide import, the retrospectives dedicated to Béla Tarr and Lars von Trier in 2001, as well as the retrospective of the Brazilian Cinema Novo and lesser-known works of Orson Welles. Also, the Festival has presented Croatian shorts in Rome and Paris.Furthermore, the Split Film Festival has realised many cultural projects of considerable significance over the particular editions. Some of the most famous examples are the 2011 international film workshop conducted by Béla Tarr, famous Hungarian director, the 2009 retrospective of Nam June Paik, one of the greatest contemporary artist and the father of video art, first drive-in cinema, 2013 Monument Film Retrospective with a lecture delivered by Peter Kubelka, the father of film avant-garde, as well as the multi-media Midnight Moment project that was realised the same year, in collaboration with the New York Streaming Museum.STFF is also known for its visual identity developed over the years, designs of (among others) Gorki Žuvela, Boris Ljubičić, Viktor Popović, Peter Bilak (the Netherlands) and Duje Škaričić. The Festival is well known for its specific style, posters and catalogues, not only across the country, but also worldwide.