Porvenir, film, exhibition  | Renata Poljak


Porvenir, film, exhibition 
film installation, light boxes, neon work more, more, more, 2 channel video installation 2020

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Dreaming of better lands, from generation to generation, because of poverty, hunger and wars, we voyage across the seas.
Geography is destiny.
“Do our bodies retain the memories of our grandfathers; are memories of running away in search of better lands imprinted on our bodies?”
Porvenir means Future. It is the only town in Tierra del Fuego, at the bottom of the world, founded by Croatian immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century.

Film Porvenir premiered at International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (official selection).

Lars Henrik Gass (Festival Director, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen) choosed Porvenir in Top Five Shorts of 2020 for Kinoscope.

2021    Croatian Film Days, for Porvenir – Best music composition – Best sound design
2020    The Šibenik City Museum – More, ljudi, obale exhibition – 1st prize 
Liburnia film festival, for Porvenir – Best Film – Best Cinematography – Best Sound Design

Artforum international magazine article by Kate Sutton

Press release for the exhibition Porvenir

In the exhibition Porvenir or (the) Future, the cutting-edge Croatian artist Renata Poljak continues her parallel researches into visual media and into current issues in sociology that include the phenomenology of migration, the abandonment of the native soil, departure and journeying.  Drawing on a family narrative (her great grandfather was forced by poverty to emigrate to Chile), Renata has formed a cycle the backbone of which is constituted by her films as auteur, which are at the same time a point of departure for, and the essence of, the complex unit of an inventive and innovative visual narrative.

Porvenir is the third and for now the last episode of this impressive exhibition cycle that Renata started in 2016 with the work (every exhibition or story is treated as a complete artistic unit of its own) Partenza, followed up by Terra incognita. Like the previous two exhibitions, Porvenir is set up and presented in the Kranjčar Gallery, which is an essential consideration since in her work Renata includes a number of subjects, including the exhibition venue itself, which takes an equal share in the formation of the work of art. The exhibition (the artwork) Porvenir consists not only of the central screening of the film of the same name but also of a neon installation, light boxes, photographic collages and a two-channel video installation; the artistic procedure is just the same as in the two preceding units.  Renata is in effect building upon the film, the basic (but also an independent) part of the exhibition, with photographs from the shooting into which she intervenes with a particular college procedure. Then she enlarges selected frames from the film, reproduces them and transposes them into other media, at the end supplementing the theme of the film with drawings, installation or text.  In this kind of creative procedure, in which the focus is on the interrelations of the different media in variations of the same motif, which come from a common source and have identical origins, the author problematises the nature and very form of the artwork, in other words opens up the possibility for forms outside settled artistic disciplines and a standard kind of context to exist and live, of which she says: I think that everything we see, hear or feel in a gallery or museum space is a complete whole, is in fact, just one work. 

The film Porvenir – Future was shot in 2019 in Tierra del Fuego, Chile; the title refers to a town of the same name that was founded at the beginning of the twentieth century by mainly Croatian emigrants (including the artist’s great-grandfather).  In the film Partenza the artist’s great-grandmother stands on the strand waiting for a ship with letters from her husband who had set off into the world in the search for a better life.  Like many other women, she never saw her man’s return.  Porvenir shows us this town in the back of beyond, literally at the end of the world, the majority of the inhabitants of which are the descendants of those Croats who managed to survive. There, in aland where the turbulent sea joins heaven and earth, stands the great granddaughter of the long-ago migrant, watching the ship that comes and goes. The story of migrants continues like a story of metaphor and reality of the promised land. Of the future – porvenir.

Too Much Of This Sea
two channel video installation with a mirror and additional text ‘Island

Two vertical video projections in the corner show the sea in constant motion and on loop. The sea continues to flow and reflect in the mirror placed on the floor under the projections.

First vertical projection shows the open sea with the horizon and the second one is a close up of the sea foam watched from the boat.


Too much of this sea. Turn around to the left, to the right, turn to the front, to the back, or don’t turn around. Too much of this sea. We are born, not born. We sleep, don’t sleep. We travel, awake far from any island, live there, lie in hospital beds, temperature rising and falling like ebb and flow. We don’t travel. Words from heads and mouths multiply, we’ll choke on them, choke everything and anyone. Too much of this sea. Too much for our eyes, our bodies, sexual organs, the whole of our nudity. Too much, swim or don’t swim, dive, work, make love, run, and sweaty afterwards drink. Too much of this sea. What would you say if you were a mariner, a fish, a boat, anchor or missionary going off to baptise and not returning? Too much of this sea. Too many days and years and centuries. Although I am not a migratory bird, insect, some invisible animal. Too much of this sea. It is wide and thick, deep and spacious, un-thought, pre-thought, one might say, thought out, indifferent to the abundance of death. And yet in our hearts.  Cruel and good like God. I looked at the little vessels (those thirsty mouths) that scoop up its water.  I saw that clock that you left on the clothing, striking dry and lost. A failed fish one might say. We walked along the shore, what wasn’t it ready to do to please the main that was coming.  And what if we threw ourselves head over heels?  Too much of this sea. For our strengths and weaknesses. The shore: illusion and deception.

Daniel Dragojević