Building up and transcending her perennial studies of light and space of the palace-city, by the means of her light installation Gloria Oreb reached the “other sky“; preceding reflection of the outside world has finally emerged from the dark ambient of the substructions into the exterior of the Palace, thus retrieving the lost grandeur to the northern portal, once upon the time named the Porta Aurea or Septentrionalis. The Palace, which has historically gone through Christianization and innumerous architectural transformations and interpolations, eventually became the city and the world of its own. Associating the architecture with the visual installation, the intention of the author is to raise the citizens' awareness of the space in the city they live in through setting up her intervention by interconnecting historical and contemporary social context.

Gold, as a symbol of the metaphysical light in her previous interventions, emanated in the form of the circular light beam that illuminates the Golden Gate just as the sun does during the day, and therefore became – the Portae Lucis, creating a mystic aura of the performative space. Sun worship, which the emperor Diocletian himself continued to maintain as an inheritance from his predecessors through the symbolism of the Invincible Sun (Sol Invictus), had become devoid of religious context over time, and in its very essence has bridged the differences and connected diverse cultures, civilizations, and nations, showing that people have always had one and the same spiritual concept of the divine light. This former beliefs, and the more recent hypothesis that the Palace was built in relation to the position of the Sun (The Diocletian’s Palace of the Sun, Mladen Pejaković, Zagreb, Litteris, 2006) does not seem so far from truth as we observe Gloria’s light intervention. The Portae Lucis emphasizes the harmony of the ancient with the urban space and draws attention to the fact that this very area of the Golden Gate is a place deeply rooted in the citizens’ consciousness, thus becomming the so-called field of care and emotional detachment that the author is referring to, attributing a sort of timeless character to it.

Barbara Gaj

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PORTAE LUCIS*: The light installation at the Golden Gate in Split – June 27, 2012

The city research on my part began four years ago with the tripartite intervention I have realized inside of the Basements’ spaces, which topographically define the southern part of the Diocletian’s palace. In the period between 2008 and 2010, three ambients took place: Aurum, Illuminations, and The Other Sky. Referring to the dark atmosphere of the basements, which is in analogy with the condition of the urban exterior, I have placed the emphasis on the setting up the light, thereby symbolically using gold. The gilt canvases with the inscribed circular forms signified the light or, more precisely, the Sun. Contemplation of the Palace, on its spatial and symbolic parameters, has finally led to the Golden Gate – the antique architectural work and the place in the city. The gold that I have implemented into the Basements is tautologically present on the Golden Gate itself. Gold transposes into light, the medium through which the work of art in the public place is accomplished. The artistic act of lighting the Golden Gate establishes a dialogue between architecture and the light installation and raises the citizens’ awareness of the space in the city they live in. The urban environment opens up the social context of the intervention, while the antique architecture of the Palace sets the intervention in the historical context. Exploring the possibilities of the contemporary art expressions and by using the light intervention, the intention is to evoke a sensation among spectators that the Portal regained its former gold splendour. Through the light installation as a mediator, a process of establishing relation between gold (in its historical, symbolic, and narrative context) and a real urban place called the Golden Gate takes place. The traditional meaning attributed to gold such as emanation comes into existence in a form of the light installation on the Golden Gate in Split. Thus, the field of analogies shifts from symbolical and historical to the actual conditions, i.e., the place of everyday life, shaped both materially and architecturally. Instead of gold, I use the circular beam of yellow light, as characteristically used in theatrical lighting, and direct it towards the Portal. The circular form of light is defined following several months of experimentation in the theatre, in ideal laboratory conditions for the elaboration of the initial ideal. In this way, the city space becomes theatrical scenery, an antique-type theatre – the space of potential mystery. Thereby the Golden Gate transforms from an archaeological and a functional urban space into the space of performance. The purpose of the work of art, i.e., the visual work, should be pointing out the architecture and emphasizing both its physical and spatial features. Simultaneously, it could be observed both as a work of art and as a place in the city. Following the encounter of architecture and the visual installation, a third structure shall emerge, which would be going beyond the parameters of the work of art and architecture, while also emphasizing both of them.

This new correlation might affect our introspection and the following question may arise - to what degree do we really know ourselves and the world, notably the city, we live in? The concept of art is not operative in the spatial experiment ahead of us, but it manifests itself through a sphere of communication where it is being established as an entirely new model. The Golden Gate would show its entirety and identity in relation to the people who use it on a daily basis and live nearby. The spectators shall be experiencing a transformation from the ''observers'' of the work of art to its ''users''. This light installation may also be elucidated in terms of the socio-spatial dialectic described by Henri Lefebvre as the ''production of space''. Space in his formulation is neither an object nor a subject, but rather a ''social reality... a set of relations and the form''. Lefebvre experiences space as a concrete abstraction with material consequences. Its social aspect is conveyed through the concept of the three-part dialectic: perceived space (spatial practice), conceived space (representations of space), and residing space (spaces of representation). Lefebvre's perceived-conceived-inhabited triad describes the process of everyday life in ''social space'', in which their integration generates a third space – a new form of experience (Lefebvre, Henri: The production of Space; Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 1991). To the contrary, the point of view of Yi-Fu Tuan focuses on the empirical characteristics of space. In his work under the title Space and place (Tuan, Yi-Fu: Space and place: the perspective of experience; University of Wisconsin Press, 2008) he discusses ''fields of care'' as the result of the emotional devotion of people. Using the ideas of topophilia and topophobia, he points out the sensorial, aesthetical, and emotional dimension of space. Similarly, Edward Relph presumes that some places are more authentic than others and that community, affiliation and ''sense of a place'' may develop only in places where the link between the place and the people is deep-rooted. His arguments combine insights into the manner of people's permeation of their environment often by use of very specific meanings for their own nostalgia about the places that are still untouched by the process of modernization and ''improvement'' (Relph, Edward: Place and Placelessness; London, Pion, 1976). Drawing a comparison with Relph's work, Marc Augé coined the phrase ''non-places'' to refer to the places such as supermarkets, shopping malls, airports, motorways as symptoms of the super modern global society that simply do not function as sites for the celebration of real cultures (Auge, Marc: Non-places, Introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity; Karlovac, Psefizma Library, 2001). In this context, the space of the Golden Gate can be identified with the field of care, where the link between people and the place of cultural heritage is (was) deep-rooted. The act of the light installation intervenes not only in the ancient architecture, but also in the consciousness about the cultural heritage of the city of Split standing in opposition to the dominating non-places of the same town. Therefore, by intervening in the space of the Portal I draw attention to the issue of cultural heritage and the relation towards historical legacy in modernity.

Gloria Oreb

*The article PORTAE LUCIS is posted in the biweekly magazine the Zarez, no. XIV/337, p. 37, on June 21, 2012.

The light installation is realized in collaboration with the City Puppet Theatre Split and supported by Croatian Association of Artists Split and the Cinema Club Split.