Olja Triaška Stefanovič completed her doctoral study of photography and new media at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia, where she also lives and works.
Her series of photographs address the space within which a person thinks, settles, creates or leaves behind. Aesthetically cleansed, precisely composited and technically perfected images may have been merely architectural notes, but their uniqueness is that when we carefully observe the symbols inside them, we realise that the author is clearly communicating with us. The focus of the viewer shifts from the nakedness of the documentation to his or her own relationship with the space. The person in the photographs is not present, but the space possesses a memory of him/her.
Her research led Triaška from making a detailed documentation of abandoned buildings and empty “holes” between them in the city centres around Europe to the interest in simulating reality. She says that with the appearance of virtual reality, the space itself has lost its basic functions, and with them its characteristics, thus becoming void and impersonal. Via her photo image, she takes us along a thin boundary between simulation and reality and wonders how much fiction and simulation is in fact present in reality itself.
The Pink Shadows project (2009), the first on this subject, deals with the interior of film studios, their scenography and artificial backgrounds. All the photos were taken in a hangar, which used to be used for sour cabbage production, but is now the production space for making television soap operas. Through the images we are confronted with an inconsistent mixture of simulated living spaces, onto which fall the shadows of the studio lights in the background, with the rough grey walls of the former industrial plant still visible. The idea was expanded in the series This Could Be a Nice Place for Life (2013), in which she documented various television studies in Slovakia, focusing on the use of photography as backgrounds. The wrinkled canvases and the floor full of cables outside the frame of the television screen appear quite absurd. By using this title, she may redirect the viewer into thinking about their own living spaces and to what extent they are shaped by some sort of “common” representation of the advertised perfect life to which today’s society seeks to escape from its own problems by dealing with the problems of others.
Another of Triaška’s series walks the line between the background and the stage. It is supposed to be a visual excursion between the two aforementioned series. Warning from the Stage (2011) presents us with various stages and audiences, and addresses their political use. She also sees the stage as a sofa from which we click through the television channels in the living room and says that we have the power of turning on and off the manipulation, which is only a push of a button away. It may have been slightly more complicated in the last few years, as the production of virtual reality has been shifted into the home of every viewer, who at the same time became an actor, and mobile phones do not have such a simple button to exclude us from social networks. Thus, all of Triaška’s documented television studies can be viewed as former places of the production of simulated reality.