The newest AV and space installation by young artist Alma Trtovac, called Retino, is a witty contextualization of an extremely delicate, intimate and social topic of losing eyesight. Without avoiding her primary artistic medium –painting – Alma Trtovac arranges thirty canvases into a specific spatial composition that functions on both sides of the installation, depending on the entry point and direction of the viewer’s movement in the gallery space. Apart from UV black light and UV sensitive acrylic paint, a sound of a person reliving the drama of their eyesight gradually is added to the background. A documentary movie dealing with the same issue is also a part of to the installation.
In the interpretation of this young artist something, that could at a first glance seem a bit pretentious, becomes an elaborate and empathetic interpretation of a subtle social issue; without any pathetic sentiments and with no forcing of any kind of a politically correct statement regarding the delicate situation of this group of people. Alma Trtovac without a doubt belongs to one of the younger generation of artists that do not hide behind both empty and theoretically exaggerated topics and exhibitions; artists that do not fabricate a falsely dramatic virtual reality – personal or anybody else’s – as a content of their exhibition.
On the contrary, in order to simulate the experience of losing eyesight as accurately as possible, the artist paints the motives blurry, in motion, reflected through the hazy fragments of urban scenery and architecture – exactly as described by the people that were gradually losing their eyesight. By deliberately stripping the paintings of their primary function of an artistically perfect and finished artifact par excellance, they stop being the main focus of the exhibition and start functioning as helpful secondary medium that amplifies the atmosphere. Even though the installation’s main focus is the emotional, sociological and psychological context of the process of losing eyesight, the artist's ability to represent and arrange visual elements, the composition, as well the idea itself cannot be denied. In Alma's case socially engaged themes never outgrow the artistic content and intervention, nor do they serve to cover a lack of an artistic idea or aesthetic dimension of the exhibition.
The paintings are arranged in vertical rows and designed to slightly confuse the viewer – both by their alignment and by their multiple visual fields; more accurately, the installation is designed so that we can experience that same confusion, insecurity and hopelessness that are experienced by people that are gradually losing their eyesight. The image remains vague, the shapes seem to be moving away from the place where we last spotted them, the light and the shades are constantly changing...each time we pass by 'the familiar' becomes 'the other'; less friendlier and less protective. Something that we recognized as a familiar and tamed face of an urban fragment/street/square/tram stop/showroom/entrance now has a new face; now it's a new image, a new task we must solve step by step, touch by touch. The reconstruction of the process of losing eyesight in an artistically and perceptively complex installation made by Alma Trtovac becomes not only a methodically narrated artistic meta-story, but also a deep am empathetic view of a real problem that happens to real people.