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Mirjana Vrbaški (b.1978 in Montreal) is a Serbian lens-based artist. After obtaining a BA in Literature in Canada, Vrbaški turned to photography, graduating from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (2010). Her ongoing series Verses of Emptiness has received and been nominated for, among other, the Renaissance Photography Prize (UK), the Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize at the National Portrait Gallery (UK), Hellerau Portrait Prize (DE), Vattenfall Fotopreis (DE), National Portrait Prize (NL) and LensCulture Portrait Prize (NL). Vrbaški has participated in international exhibitions at institutions such as Fotomuseum Den Haag (NL), Transformer Station Cleveland (USA), and Museum Kranenburgh (NL). She is represented in international private and public collections, including The National Portrait Gallery, Fries Museum and Transformer Station Cleveland. She lives and works in Berlin.
Vrbaški’s practice is rooted in the photographic image as a palpable site for contemplation of complexity. Generally working with large formats and repeating motifs, she pushes past the narrative, seeking to foster a deeper engagement with the photographic image. In such a process, depicting becomes carving, burrowing, until the image is ‘hollow enough to echo’.
In Verses of Emptiness (2009-ongoing), a series of large-scale portraits of women, Vrbaški and her model isolate themselves in the photo studio, working in silence and concentration so as to ’peel away’ the model’s surface layers. Placing her sitter against a neutral, contextless backdrop and consequently ’sculpting’ her inward, she reduces her portraits to a minimum of visual elements until a more essential and strangely unsettling layer is exposed.
In ‘7/8’ (2017-ongoing), she immerses herself in a forest, capturing it in the midday sun. Re-tuned to this environment's 'asymmetrical' rhythm, she becomes an observer of its inner logic - a logic that resists the comfort of grasping.
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ON VERSES OF EMPTINESS:
Interview with Joerg Colberg:
Goodrum, Sarah. A New/old Ethics of the Photographic Portrait: Mirjana Vrbaski’s “Verses of Emptiness”. AfterImage Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, Vol. 40
Brunner, Eva. Mirjana Vrbaski “Verses of Emptiness”. Brennpunkt Magazin für Fotografie
Download Brennpunkt.pdf (German)
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