The title “I 212 NYC”, a cryptogram which Mario uses to introduce us to his story, is an emotional autobiography of sorts – the autobiography of a traveller who ended up in the same place a hundred times, until finally, the territory became his destiny, as was so succinctly put once. His continuing professional stays in New York have left their mark. After his initial fascination with the urban texture and the living pulse of the city, a much stronger influence came to the forefront. The city began shaping the artist, speaking out about all the thin threads an environment can bind us with. Hence, Mario undersigns this identification in the very title: “I”, followed by the Manhattan area code, “212”, and, finally, “New York”, as the ultimate intellectual destination. And just as every biographer is unmasked by his own writings, Mario is, as a traveller, unmasked by the stills he has captured. But those images do not reveal what is expected, a fascination by glitz or forced glamour on the part of the artist. Mario isn’t creating a snapshot, but carefully building every pictorial element, attempting to arrest a moment of those fine threads and moments we cherish forever, even though actually have no connections with known persons or events. A cloudy Manhattan day, rain-drenched flower stalls in the foreground, a woman hurrying by in the back of the shot. Or a young Black man, naked to the waist, searching for something on his cell phone as he holds a bright yellow ladder, with a storefront full of garments behind him. These are the arrested subjects that Mario likes so much. All his hues are warm, just like in the magazines from the seventies, when photographers asked Kodak to remove the protective, color-leveling coating from their stock, saying that they don’t fear pure colors. The pure gamma might be most prominent in the photo of building façades, with a traffic light in the foreground, depicting a hand and a walker. This is also the encrypted visual message that reveals the simple, but crucial decision – stop or go. To the casual viewer, the story of “I 212 New York” might seem somewhat uneven, as the artist mixes two visual modes, black and white and color photography. But that’s just an impromptu observation. Only those with a deep sensitivity for the subject can afford to make such a bold step. To Mario, Manhattan is a state of mind, a journey we all had to take.
A smart culture theorist once said that territory is destiny, perhaps, but then the territory we chose for our intellectual endeavors must be of prime importance.
These are the people who helped this exhibition come to life, directly or indirectly. They all deserve special thanks and a lot more.
My family without their love and support I would have been lost in this dimension. My angel, Anita for sharing the vision with me, being there, for support and love. My sons Val and Adrian for choosing me, teaching me, keeping the flame of life within. My mom Zorka, to whom I dedicate this exhibition, for unconditional love, all the trips she didn't take, all the tears she shared, for smiles, touches, for life.
My New Yorkers who also made my NY days soulful; in order of appearance:
Karmen Ross, for always being there, a true friend, for figs from Brač, to her and Carne for lovely railway apt at 1st Avenue (mine and Anita's first NY home..)
Mandy Jacobson, for wild days, Tom Waits, comparing me to Simon, hating and loving me for that, for broken window on an old Renault 4, road trips we took...
Kristen Cook, for helping me make the quantum leap, enormous kindness and friendship, and so much more that stays within...
Senka Suljić, for basil leaves, jazz nights, special days at Upper West, sharing her one bedroom apartment at Amsterdam Av., friendship...
Hiro Wakiya, for giving me my first Murakami book, taking me to best sushi in NY, sharing camera secrets, hand making my light meter pouch..
Predrag Dubravčić, for telling Anita and me to start pealing NY from our own neighbourhood, him and Zoran Drakulić for taking me to Grimaldi's, wine carafes...
Eduardo Arias Nath, for giving me a chance to roll my first film shots at streets of NY, for Saigon grill and 3,7,11 meals..
Tara Westwood, for embracing Anita and me so dearly, funky drunken nights, Café Lalo...
Susan Rostock Szabo, for penthouse at 72nd st., warm smiles and great nights at her terrace..
Denis Kovač, for two and a half wild months we've spent working on the posters, invites, books, all... for so much inspiration and fun
danijel pepeljnjak and mario vargović for always being there
My sponsors and friends who materialised the whole thing, shared their spaces, thoughts, helped and supported the whole thing
US Embassy Zagreb, NIKOLINA PAIĆ
Galerija SC, Ksenija Baronica, NATAŠA RAJKOVIĆ
Booksa, MILJENKA BULJEVIĆ, VANJA BJELIĆ PAVLOVIĆ
Gradska Knjižnica Zadar, Milko Beleski
Gradski ured za kulturu
Vesna Prajz, Damir Jelinić
Coca Cola, Boška Trbojević
Krešimir T. Kapulica
DAZ, Davorka Perić
Gallery SC, Zagreb/croatia Oct 07 -15, 2005
Gallery Prica, Samobor/croatia April 12 - 21, 2006
Zadar City Library (Gradska knjižnica Zadar) May 15 - Jun 10, 2006
opened together with "the American Corner"
Zagreb architects Society (daz) Dec 12, 2006 - Jan 03, 2007
accompanying exhibition "Landmarks of New York", presented by
former US ambassador Micheal Bradtke
BOOKSA literary club, Zagreb/croatia some 11 months, 2009 - 2010