“Krbavsko polje“, a vast karst field in the heart of Lika, a mountain region of Croatia, has been my tranquil, safe place for years. From back in the days when our family would escape the loudness of the city, to nowadays, when I wend across the field alone, looking for a different kind of escape. It is a distant, untouched and wildly natural landscape, situated far from city life, industry or pollution. Bare in a way that resembles Earth’s untouched past.
With “Terra Incognita“, a cartographic term used for uncharted territories, I wanted to deepen my connection with this desolate landscape, and to draw my own maps of this territory. Inconvenient for orientation, these maps belong to the realm of the unreal. They are direct imprints of nature, referring to a specific site in the landscape, but in an abstract, imaginary way. Viewer’s attention focuses on the invisible and hidden, on what lies under, and not what is above.
With an aim of letting nature draw physical traces with its own energy, I placed light sensitive paper directly onto the soil, beneath stones, where it was exposed not to light, but to „darkness“, for 30 days. Soil activity and micro climate fluctuations, different on each location, spontaneously left marks on the paper, materialising complexities and randomness consistent in the natural environment. After collecting imprints from their originating locations, I took them to my darkroom, where I processed them as negatives, and digitally reversed them into complementary tones and colors. The final step of this physical permutation is enlargement to a human scale, so they suggest how lively and fascinating these micro cosmoses are. But as well, how wild and vast the area of Krbavsko polje is, at least in my own mind.
“Terra Incognita“ started in the Summer 2018 and has strongly affected my perception of nature, as well as my understanding of photography and what photography might be. Deprived of optics and human perspective, I rely on nature as my sole collaborator in making images. I explored Krbavsko polje geographically, slowly moving across terrain, lifting stones and placing paper underneath them, but the results were geological discoveries. The landscape above had that quiet, familiar feeling, almost meditative, but the layer beneath was rich, heterogeneous, unknown. It dappled paper with surprising symbols and signs. With the world rushing frantically forward, “Terra Incognita” is an invitation to slow down and acknowledge the beauty and depth in simplicity. Complexity of our own existence seems clearer when perceived in the context of a balanced and self-sufficient world of nature, the force that continues to live regardless of our own aspirations, anxieties and morals.