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Fragments of a river – Angela Blažanović

My series ‘Fragments of a River’ began when I first visited the shore of the River Thames in 2018 after I’d been living in London for four years. I was instantly fascinated by the cycle of the tide and the beauty of its contrasting states – oscillating between calm sanctuary and dangerous torrent, running through the heart of our city.

Walking along the shoreline, I collect discarded objects and washed-up fragments. On a moss-covered concrete block during low tide in Wapping, east along the river, I created and photographed delicate sculptural arrangements of these forgotten objects on a white sheet of paper. These assemblages draw on the aesthetics of Dutch still-life painting using only natural light, and so the concrete block turns into a plinth. For the next hour or so, the river shore becomes my studio.

I capture the sculptures, always on the verge of tipping over, in a moment of perfect balance. Through the tension of the anticipated collapse, the image speaks of the momentary capture of photography itself, of the temporary nature of my work and of the fragility ecological fragility of the river. 

My intervention in the space can only ever be temporary. At low tide the river offers a beautifully calm landscape, but within hours the water rises and the plinth disappears. Once photographed, I leave my sculpted compositions behind, so the river itself becomes an active participant in the work. I am taking nothing away, and leaving no trace. Whatever I extracted and created from the river is washed away, back where it came from.

As we learn new ways of looking at our waste as traces of human existence, through my compositions we find ourselves confronted with our immediate impact on the environment. The photographs echo the endless cycle of creation and destruction – for me, the river holds potential for both.

I am a visual artist based in London, UK and graduated from London Metropolitan University with a degree in photography in 2019. Through a performative approach between photography and sculpture I explore the symbiotic relationship between human and landscape. The overlooked and discarded, traces of human presence and the attachment to a landscape are central themes in my practice. /

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