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Călin Dan - Cutting the Clouds with a Hand Saw, 2023
Cutting the Clouds with a Hand Saw
Dani Ghercă merges creative thinking and the managerial approach in all the stages of his endeavour - trying to map a visual territory with both the consistency and apparent objectivity of cartography and also with the subversive abstraction of social and mystical utopia. Performing with ease and on tiptoe in the turbulent waters of international art, Dani Ghercă has demonstrated from his debut an austere tension, being some sort of subterranean missionary in the service of revelation. The term may seem exaggerated for those who know the artist, but under the guise of a small steps strategy there is an obsessive pursuit of what is not there, of what has not been revealed yet.
"I ceased to believe in the ability of photography to represent reality", the artist declared emphatically, drawing a simple and straightforward parallel between the painting crisis caused by the apparition of analogue photography in the 19th century, and the photography crisis determined by the rise of digital culture and social media in the 21st century.
After a remarkable debut on the verge of photo journalism, a debut that (important detail) happened in the context of a generation clearly defined and with a collective vision, Dani Ghercă no longer approached reality in an anecdotalist way and gradually abandoned the descriptive perspective in photography. He has lost interest for "life's details"; moreover, when looking back on the recent past, he discovered he was mostly attracted by the space in his social photography showing homeless people living in the sewers around the North Station of Bucharest. His penchant for space is two-fold: first, mnemonic-sensorial (recomposing the artist's feeling Dani Ghercă of spatial insertion / belonging); secondly, visual-conceptual (the way images share with the viewer the symbolical load of a particular space).
In this instance, Dani Ghercă demonstrates a strong curatorial approach: the space in the photographs spreads out in the exhibition and the exhibition space enters the photographs. Photography needs to be perceived from the virtual point of view of the place where it was taken, and this perception is filtered through the way a viewer feels the real space where it is displayed. Therefore, this intersection of subjectivities becomes part of the final work. Polemically stating that "hanging photos on rails" in museums is obsolete, Dani Ghercă concentrates on that particular space formula where the image message is integrated, a formula that, according to him, guarantees an adequate reading, undermined simultaneously by a programmatically induced inadequacy, so as to create friction between the viewer and the objects, both on a conceptual-emotional and on a physical level. Visiting the exhibition is an experience that does not ensue relaxation and cultural hedonism, but rather a physical clash with the works instead of a distant, purely visual one.
The Continuous Flow project started in Berlin in late 2019, while Dani Ghercă was working on a (predictable) art research about the infamous Berlin Wall. In an attempt to add more flexibility to the mapping, the artist chose to rent a helicopter and this led to the revelation of a fortunate combination: the sunset light, the modernist architecture featuring metal roofs and the strange angles that were accessible only from a flying machine. The plunging perspective, the lack of an orthogonal axis as well as the missing cultural hallmarks were all bringing some sort of confusion that Dani Ghercă appreciated just because it was not proper to the apparently objective medium of photography. "I don't understand what I'm looking at" is paramount to induce an alienation process in the value system of the audience, an alienation that reproduces, on one hand, the feelings of the artist when facing a metropolis he takes the picture of and, on the other hand, is an answer to the "flattening", the namelessness, ultimately the loss of identity of this global city that looks the same regardless of where it actually is.
As a result of this in-flight revelation, Dani Ghercă starts a Jules Verne-like process, going around the world in a helicopter that has become an extension of his camera as well as a compulsory weapon in his battle with all these big cities. He is planning to create an obviously limited therefore substantial series of anonymous aerial images of conurbations, a series that makes sense, eventually, as it is meant to highlight the uniformity, the strange- ness, the perception paradox of an impenetrable ensemble with revealing details. Images on the border of the concrete and the abstract taken with that type of technology that parts with the 'mechanic' sources of art history and also with the new trends that disturb visual culture these days. Italian Futurism took advantage of the precipitous, heroic perspectives taken by fighter aircraft pilots during World War I. However, Dani Ghercǎ's helicopter gives another significance to the landscape, it allows for different shooting angles, it curves the space weirdly, it can hover about a certain point of interest - in short, it is as subtle as an analysis tool. At the same time, it does not allow for the easy-fix solution brought forth by the excessive drone filming and snaps- hots that have infested culture in the last decade.
In this project Dani Ghercă aims to create the last metaphor of globalization, a world atlas of those cities that are now visually resembling computer motherboards, this element that is controlling the existence of humanity as a whole every minute. Although I am not a supporter of this deciphering as the only possible key, I realize it adds philosophical value to the photographs. Dani Ghercă's aerial shots, meant to be printed large-scale and displayed in challenging spaces, annihilate the rich and charming history of the pleasurable vedute. Those vedute painted in the 16th-18th centuries show a rigurous perspective because back in the day the existence itself had a perspective. In opposition, Dani Ghercă's metropolis has no other perspective than the abyss. The visual similarity between modern conurbations and the motherboard has been noticed for a while. Therefore, what happens in these visual probings has a different result: creating an oxymoronic space situation that is simultaneously claustrophobic and agoraphobic, wherein the viewer is some sort of deity contemplating from afar / anear the human condition he also became a prisoner of.
The term motherboard, defining the main printed circuit board induces a mythical shiver issued from the suggestion of subterranean forces that have governed our existence since the birth of time. The mother is not always kind, she can also be (and sometimes/often is) un-kind. The technological break in Dani Ghercă's anti-vedute is probably one of the most recent manifestations of this primary skepticism regarding the axiological value of human condition. The speed of technology opposed to the slowness of spiritual existence is another manifestation of the revolving doors tragedy, forever, inescapably turning us around in a world of paradox. Dani Ghercă attempts to make a grand escape - with practical discretion, I must add - wearing the heroic apparel of an anonymous Blade Runner who is chasing the globalization spectre in a context we can only glimpse fragments of. A perceptive, tenacious viewer may sometimes get a reward: identifying the sketchy silhouette of a human caught in the unresponsive web of the city
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