Opening: 25 October 2018, at 8 p.m., Moderna galerija, Ljubljana
Duration: 25 October 2018 — 13 January 2019
Curator: Lara Štrumej
Stojan Kerbler has been one of the central figures in Slovene photography over the past 50 years, and Moderna galerija has decided to celebrate his 80th birthday this year by staging a retrospective exhibition.
This is the first comprehensive overview of Kerbler’s oeuvre, spanning a period from the late 1950s to 2014. His photographic series are presented chronologically, starting in the first exhibition room with the earliest – and now publicly presented for the first time – photographs of the locals from Kerbler’s native village of Ptujska Gora, taken in the late 1950s and already indicative of his later creative directions. Next come the photographs taken during his student years in Ljubljana (1960–1964), where he was most drawn to minor everyday events in the lives of ordinary people, and the series Portraits from the Streets of Ptuj, which includes some of his early anthological portraits of children. The central exhibition room is dedicated to the two series that represent Kerbler at his creative peak, the People of Haloze and Pig Slaughter. The exhibition continues with portraits of photographers and the so-called factory photographs, and wraps up with the latest major series Courtyards, resulting from Kerbler’s interest in the traces of time layered on the facades of the venerable town of Ptuj.
The retrospective illustrates the master photographer’s search for a suitable photographic idiom, the changes in and development of his photographic expression that were the result of his uncompromising vision and his humanity as well as his inner development, which in turn well serve to illustrate the inner logic of his changes in style and subject matter.
The exhibition and the catalogue have been conceived and realized by Moderna galerija curator Lara Štrumej, who also wrote one of the texts in the catalogue. The other two texts were written, respectively, by journalist and writer Alenka Puhar, also author of the book Prvotno besedilo življenja. Oris zgodovine otroštva na Slovenskem v 19. stoletju (Original Text of Life. An Outline of the History of Childhood in Slovenia in the 19th Century) (1982); and the poet, writer and fellow Ptuj townsman Aleš Šteger.
Kerbler’s bibliography was collated by Moderna galerija curator Bojana Rogina.
Alenka Puhar casts light on the social climate of the 1960s, when Kerbler took his first anthological portraits of children, by looking at a number of critical accounts in the press and literature of the time, portraying the actual circumstances in those parts of the countryside that were particularly poor and undeveloped. Aleš Šteger, who was inspired to write his latest book Kar sem videl na Ptuju in drugod (What I Saw in Ptuj and Elsewhere) by Kerbler’s photographs of the courtyards of Ptuj, has contributed an insightful, as well as literary reflection on Kerbler’s latest major series Courtyards.
Lara Štrumej examines Kerbler’s oeuvre through his harmonic relationship with Haloze and its inhabitants. She attributes particular significance to the influence of the Maribor Photo Club in the late 1960s to early 1970s, when Kerbler gained real creative confidence and realized that he was on the right path. He began photographing in Haloze, where his mature idiom developed in dialogue with his subjects and in his search for a semantically dense, ethical and also aesthetic narrative of the reality of life in Haloze as he saw it.
Kerbler’s own voice can also be heard at the exhibition and in the catalogue: his characteristically lapidary comments on some of the photographs provide us with a rare view of the nature of the intentions that guided his choices as to what to photograph and how.
The exhibition comprises 174 photographs, a showcase full of journals, magazines, catalogues, and other publications with texts about Kerbler’s work, and two documentary films about the photographer: Haložani, srečanja s fotografom Stojanom Kerblerjem in haloško družino (The People of Haloze: A Meeting with Photographer Stojan Kerbler and a Haloze Family) (1985) directed by Bogdan Mrovlje and Trenutki večnosti: Stojan Kerbler, fotograf z domačega dvorišča (Moments of Eternity: Stojan Kerbler, A Photographer Not Shy of Farmyards) (2002) directed by Slavko Hren.
By the time of the opening, also the latest book by Stojan Kerbler and Aleš Šteger Kar sem videl na Ptuju in drugod, published by Založba Pivec, will be available on the shelves of Moderna galerija’s bookstore.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.