2019 _ Amorella ~ A Floating City/ Multimedia Cultural Centre Split

photo exhibition, MKC Split Gallery – Youth Centre curated by Jasminka Babić organisation by Multimedia Cultural Centre Split April 11 – May 4 2019

How can contemporary photography be critical without becoming a medium of affective spectacle? Can it stay within the realistic representation of contemporary society but distance itself from the journalistic documentary practice and exist within the field of contemporary art? Is it capable of knowing and respecting its own tradition without restricting itself to the semantically bare formalism? During the last thirty years numerous authors whose work has been theoretically recognized as critical realism, have dealt with these topics. At the core of such approach lies the understanding that photography is social and cultural practice directed at encouraging dialogue outside the realm of art, the awareness of its critical potential, but also the distance from the pseudo-political engagement. 

The work of Split-based author Duška Boban can be contextualized within this complex configuration of form and content. In her new project titled Amorella – A Floating City she continues the strategy of expanded understanding of photography and mediates the content of the exhibition not only through visual component, but also through textual segments, discursive programme and elaborate publication. She is focused on the topic of the heritage of shipbuilding that had largely contributed, especially during the second half of the 20th century, to the forming of Split as a contemporary city. At the moment of shipbuilding’s painful disappearance from Croatian economy, Boban reacts to the emerging problem of preservation, interpretation and presentation of its heritage, more specifically to its importance in creation of a new cultural identity of Split. By photographing the model ships that were once a part of the collection of Brodosplit Museum and are presently owned by Brodosplit – DIV Group company, the author creates a specific photographic archive. Using the archival and museological methodology, she presents the material in a form that simulates a museum display. Model ships are all photographed in front of a neutral grey background, always using the same frame. By this approach the author mimics a museum catalogue and through elimination of any other visual content, focuses the observer’s gaze exclusively to the main motif. The photographs are accompanied by the texts compiled by Nikola Bajto. They take the form of the interpretational museum texts that explain the destinies of the presented ships. This way, the importance and versatility of the past industry is shown in an unobtrusive manner, but with plenitude of visual and textual information. Furthermore, the importance and uniqueness of the model ships is clearly stated as well. 

The exhibition also shows a separate series of photographs that were taken in late 2018 aboard Amorella – a famous ship that was built in 1988 in former Brodosplit shipyard and still sails between the cities of Stockholm and Turku. This is a very personal photographic essay that rejects the documentary approach to photography. Despite the fact that the author shows the changes of time and scenery, the photographs display a particular poetic quality. Boban depicts the ship’s everyday life, but primarily explores the traces of memory of some other time and place that show the boat’s origin. Through this dynamic exchange of personal and collective, poetic and scientific approach, the author forces the observer into the situation where we, who still possess a personal memory of this heritage, have to think about the ways of avoiding the future where all these memories would become a mere historization of the past, with no connection to the new social reality.

Jasminka Babić

text and translation : Jasminka Babić
short stories by: Nikola Bajto
technical suport: Multimedia Cultural Centre Split (MKC)
special thanks: Brodosplit d.d., Fakultet građevinarstva, arhitekture i geodezije Split
The project supported by: City of Split, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture Split – FESB, Faculty of Maritime Studies Splitu, University College Aspira, Brodsko upravljanje d.o.o., SSM United Ship Management d.o.o., J.E.K. d.o.o., Tourist Board of Split, Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism Split, Artisan Bakery Kruščić, School of Design, Graphics and Sustainable Construction Split, Croatian Association of Visual Artists Split.


THE BOOK “AMORELLA ~ A FLOATING CITY” is available in The Museum of Fine Arts in Split, The Croatian Maritime Museum in Split, The Superknjižara Bookstore in Zagreb and in the web shop following this  LINKU