Exhibition by Danko Stjepanović Balkrishna Doshi - Mother Tongue

 

12/06/2019

We are pleased to invite you to the opening of the exhibition by photographer Danko Stjepanović, titled Balkrishna Doshi - Mother Tongue, which will be held on Tuesday, 18 June 2019, in the Oris House of Architecture (Kralja Držislava 3) at 7 p.m.
 
''These prints are the result of a conversation between a photographer and an architect. The third actor, the writer of this text, will attempt the role of a translator, to reflect on what was said and left unsaid during the interaction between the aforementioned men, strangers to each other when they first met.
 
Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi (architect) and Danko Stjepanović (photographer) communicated in English. Neither will claim the language, which they've tamed, as their mother tongue. English was therefore a tool, to converse about craft and reflect on the philosophy of intent, the way personal/professional choices and the weight of time influenced the buildings/structures Doshi made. As Doshi spoke, Stjepanović took pictures. He also listened and waited for the portrait that didn't feel practiced. Doshi is often photographed. He knows how to pose. Yet in Stjepanović’s shot of Doshi lifting his head to meet Kamuben, his leaning wife, it's as though the photographer has left the room. We then witness two things in tandem. First: the gentle intrusion of personal space. Second: the lens taking something intimate from two people who've aged together, a language gentle and tender.
 
Stjepanović’s prints offer traces of other languages in play. There is the language of stillness, where Doshi's buildings, emptied of people, at peace, inhale and exhale light and shadow. Then there is the language of direction, where Doshi the architect has anticipated where people may converge, how they move around or in-between spaces, through light, past time and traffic, weather and smoke. There are surprises too, present in the language of expectation, where windows appear smaller than they are required to be, or the way spaces play with angles, colour, furniture and people. Make no mistake, Stjepanović walked these buildings, in search of order, possibly logic of thought. He came away introspective, almost knowing less, not more. His pictures offer further evidence of such reflection. Through them the photographer suggests, as Doshi has also claimed, that these buildings are not inert. They feel alive, ripe with history, stories and mischief. They also feel like spaces that are hard to categorize. Such disruption of order, juxtaposed against long-term definitions of what university grounds, dwellings and office spaces are supposed to look like, feels purposeful.
 
If you ever share a drink, ride or smoke with Stjepanović, mention Doshi. He may share how 'Doshi's buildings direct you.' Inside (and around) Doshi's creations, Stjepanović may confess, absolute freedom of observation felt impossible, as though Doshi anticipated his future presence. 'It's as if he pulls strings, slowing me down, accelerating me, making and asking for small offerings in space(s), drawing my attention to the exterior when I am inside and the other way around.' Such moments forced Stjepanović to pause, or coaxed him to return to his first tongue, to express what he hoped the mother tongue could do, offer meaning: 'something basic.' The word Stjepanović arrived at was međukorak. 'It's that mid-step, mid-moment I kept sensing; I am caught by his projected and directed lines, moving trajectories. That is where he communicates with me.'
 
It would be reductive to assume Stjepanović's response to Doshi's creations was only steeped in wonder. The truth may be that Doshi's structures disarmed, (perhaps) alarmed, and transported Stjepanović (as photographer and person) elsewhere. But what was to be done about that? His solution was to shoot the spaces (and moments) that mattered to him, to treat his pictures as a map of sorts, to navigate his own thoughts, suspended in mid-step, mid-stride: vulnerable, raw, clear. 'Placed right, they become [the] same as openings in buildings, letting you as an observer move through, have your own dialogue with what you see. You enter [the] photographs and [the] photographs enter you. So I get to direct you.'
 
Enter. Wait. Inhale. Listen.''
 
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