Jaka Babnik: Holy Land


Opening: 26 January at 7pm


The exhibition entitled Holy Land showcases the most recent work by Ljubljana-based photographer Jaka Babnik whose artistic practice consistently visually analyses current socio-political phenomena. This time he focuses on the political role and influence of the head of the Catholic Church in transitional Eastern Europe.

Ever since the late 1970s the pope has increasingly gained prominence as a figurehead. Mass media has consistently portrayed the pope as a central global figure with enormous political influence and therefore, in the eyes of the public, that is what he has become; largely because of his numerous trips. Babnik set about visiting and documenting a number of places where the pope has made official visits over the past three and a half decades. He juxtaposes (his own) pictures of these usually unpopulated places, suitable for mass gatherings, with the official imagery (on postcards) of these extremely popular events that are inevitable laden with strong political connotations. The promotional iconography of these events, the stationery and related printed paraphernalia collected and analysed by Babnik captures this contradiction aptly. The artist raises relevant questions about the papal state’s role in the propagation of widespread ideological and political upheavals worldwide over the past few decades by scrutinising its appropriation of populist propaganda tactics, which have made the pope’s every move and every event the pope attended a spectacle of global significance.

Jaka Babnik (1979) studied social studies and history at the Faculty of Arts (University of Ljubljana) and has been working both as a photographer and cinematographer since 1996. He was editor of photography for Slovenian-Croatian skateboard magazine Pendrek (1998-2006) and co-founder and editor of street magazine Kontejner (2006-2009). He is the writer and director of several renowned Slovenian skateboard films such as Damage (2002) and Listen to Srecna Mladina (2006). Currently he works as a photographer, curator and publisher who gained prominence with the project Art of Asphalt (with Sergej Vutuč) and the series of photographs We Are Dogs! (2007-2010) and Jebodrom (2014). Since 2012 he is director (with Boštjan Pavletič) of the independent publishing house for photobooks Rostfrei Publishing. He lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The exhibition will be on display until 24 February!