The exhibition The Cella Was Empty explores representational relationships between identity and anonymity as vehicles for constructing image-based and three-dimensional forms—enfolded reliquariesi — that embody the evidence of occupied spaces and their artifacts while neutralizing their differences by virtue of various transformational processes.

The conceptual basis for the work partly emerges through the poetical lens of Michel Deguy.

The Cella Was Empty

Emptiness as it is called
But enshrined
Placed in secrecy within the hollowed arch
would be the part’s absence for a whole
And removed from sight
The renouncement but peacefully hushed
Of possible symbolization

La Cella Era Vuota

Il vuoto come lo chiamano
Ma incastonato
Messo nella segreta dell’arca scavata
sarebbe l’ assenza di parte per un tutto
E sottratta allo sguardo
La rinuncia ma pacatamente taciuta
Alla simbolizzazione possibile

In the above the cella can be sensed as a corporeal space — a present body; Emptiness, placed in secrecy within the hollowed arch. The arch is hollowed-from: an act of removal whose resultant liminalii space enshrines emptiness. In Deguy’s cella absence is part, an artifact held resonantly within and bound to the potential of becoming—of possible symbolization. Within the cella renouncement is at once loss and reconfiguration; together, evoking processes of reformation.

The exhibition presents images and spatial talismans: artifacts of habitation that are in the process of reconfiguration; situated for reuse. Much of the artifactualiii body—the three-dimensional objects, paintings and x-rays—emerge from on-site documentation within the spaces of the Jože Plečnik atelier located in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The installation also includes several new—transitional—pieces.

Fluctuating between artistic and architectonic modalities, the installation offers the possibility for direct interactions between artifactual and spatial narratives that (re)present themselves as a synthetic consequence: a dialectical—bodily—recasting of traces of inhabitation. The work is considered a source for departures.


The Cella was Empty (La Cella Era Vuota): curated by Agostino de Rosa and Alessio Bortot; exhibition images by Umberto Ferro/University Iuav of Venezia; supported by l’Università di Venezia Iuav, Dipartimento di Culture del progetto.

In Slovenija the artist would like to thank Saša Hiti, Paulo Barbaresi, Jurij Kobe, Marko Škerlavaj, Leon Plestenjak, Emil Rus, Gregor Rus, David Tavčar, Martin Košir and Ana Klofutar.


i The enfolded reliquary is a reliquary within which an artifact is embedded into the material content of the object rather than held within the volume of a pre-designed space. The artifact and its container are considered synthetically. A reliquary is typically seen as a vessel or container holding a meaningful artifact – a relic. The container and its contents often have no real intrinsic relationship to each other, however, the relic has meaning that escapes the container and assumes a narrative—often mythological—form in the minds of those who find the artifact important; the reliquary creates a connection by virtue of mediation. Loosely (but perhaps not so) a building is a reliquary, as is a sculpture or a painting. Analogs. All hold within their body processes (and stories) and in accordance to how they are experienced there is a potential connective space between the object and one who is present in its space. The enfolded reliquary is more a material body that reveals its content by virtue of enfolding its history, and the history of its making, until both container and object are found to be one.

ii In this sense I use two intertwined definitions of the word: Liminal as threshold and liminal as the least amount of space required to hold two contact surfaces.

iii Artifact, noun: something viewed as a product of human conception or agency rather than an inherent element; Artifactual, adjective: or pertaining to an artifact and its qualities.