Alen & Robi Predanič / The Witch Twins
UGM Studio, Trg Leona Štuklja 2
3 June – 2 July 2022
exhibition opening: Friday, 3 June 2022, 19:00

curated by: Jure Kirbiš

Alen and Robi Predanič build worlds and capture them in movement or still images, in which they themselves take on the main roles – in front of and behind the camera. They are performers, video artists, costume designers, photographers, prop and make-up artists, set designers, directors, editors, models and actors in their projects. They are artistic directors of themselves and their own worlds. They have complete control over all the elements, the building blocks of their universe, which together form a singular and idiosyncratic vision. Their work can be read in the context of other extravagant artist duos of the last century – Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt, Gilbert & George, Pierre et Gilles – duos that often place their own or other figures at the centre of highly stylized environments. But the Predanič brothers’ own list of role models is rather more unexpected: mega-directors Tim Burton, James Cameron, Hayao Miyazaki, Peter Jackson, and the sensibilities of the dreamy and psychedelic 1960s and 1970s. “We love the aesthetic and the soul of that era. A soul that manifests itself in all kinds of forms – beautiful melodies, harmonies, colour palettes, affecting stories, architecture.” They also find inspiration in the memories of their first encounters with fairy-tales, cartoons, movies and television: Harry Potter, Mars Attacks!, Titanic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Incredibles, Spirited Away, The Ring, TV programme Charmed. These are compelling, fleshed-out, lived-in universes, abundant in details, textures, atmosphere, iconic characters, a fairy-tale logic. “A mix of genres – e.g. horror and comedy – is what speaks to us; the complex feelings it awakes.”

During their years at university, while living in their common room in student halls, they came to realise that the imagination, creativity and courage they possessed during childhood had disappeared – at least for the time being. The discovery of the art of drag – the world of drag queens – empowered them to give shape to their away-with-the-fairies sensibility and worldview. They decided not to go gentle into that cold and soulless world, but to create a new, free, safe and warm world. “A world in which we can be our authentic selves and create without limits. This is a world we have known in a certain form since childhood. As children, we imagined we were wizards, and we would sometimes dress in women's clothes, at home and at kindergarten.” They furnished their room in student halls in the style of the 1960s and 1970s and transformed it into a Gesamtkunstwerk of colour, shapes, textures, found objects and handmade artifacts. “It became a place where we started making costumes, taking photos in them and recording performance videos with the VHS phone app.”

The Predanič twins prop up a mirror to the world. It is not a kind of mirror that reflects the world in all its cruelty and rawness as if under a fluorescent light, but a looking glass like one through which Alice walked in the story and discovered a wonderland populated with archetypal characters – our world, upside down. Their world is fairy-tale-like, magical, weird, surreal, nostalgic, mystic. “It isn’t boring,” the authors say, “it is not how we experience the real world.” They define it in contrast to reality. Their world is different to the quotidian, it is an escape, a trip. And yet it is a real world after all. The illusion they create is truer than reality, as it is of their own design, over which the artists retain total control at all times.

“Our performance is deliberately amplified – theatrical, at once dramatic and comedic. The movements are sudden, unexpected and thus can often seem startling and bizarre.” Their characters are based on druids and magi, sorcerers and witches, divine beings, aliens, cyborgs, toys. Bodies are often distorted; proportions are exaggerated and silhouettes are unmistakably theirs. The characters are androgynous, asexual. “Skirts or trousers, either will do,” says Alen. “Our personalities on steroids,” adds Robi. The sets, props and costumes are all crafted by hand of papier-mâché, fabric and other materials. The figures are placed in all sorts of scenery, transplanted using collage onto colourful and textured backdrops. They can be placed in front of buildings that reveal the ravages of time (decrepit factories, old villas). Other times the characters are shot in situ in nature or on set. All the elements of their creation together make up total images, to which a grainy feel of analogue photography, old VHS tape distortion effect and a saturated colour palette of orange hues and jewel tones is added in digital postproduction.

We needn’t describe the practice of Alen and Robi Predanič as radical, and yet in a world that is so hostile, deceitful, cynical, grey and indifferent, their earnest, unencumbered, sensitive, playful and, ultimately, queer approach fills us with hope and reenchants our world, if only for a moment.

Alen and Robi Predanič (b. 1994 in Brežice, Slovenia) have been making music videos for musicians from around the globe. Their video for the singles Show Me Your Hand and C'mon by American artist Greg Hatem was screened at the FSF | Festival of Slovenian Film (Portorož, Slovenia), the Ljubljana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Ljubljana, Slovenia) and the Tresk Festival (Ljubljana, Slovenia). At Tresk, it was among the nominees for the best Slovenian video of the year. The video for the single Mushroom Kingdom by the Australian band Sunfruits was aired on the legendary Australian music television programme Rage. The exhibition at UGM Studio is the Predanič brothers’ first presentation in a gallery context.

In media:
Emerging from the Metalic Pink Ashes, Meet The Witch Twins, Love Magazine, 2019
The Witch Twins, Coeval Magazine, 2019
Modern Day Witches, Striped Magazine, 2018

Music videos:
Curving Tooth – Daisy Bed (2022)
Sundae Crush – Green Lake (2021)
Perilymph – Tout en Haut (2021)
Runa de Luna – Theology (2021)
Greg Hatem – Show Me Your Hand / C'mon (2020)
Sunfruits – Mushroom Kingdom (2020)

We would like to thank the Pekarni Magdalenske mreže for their participation in the project.