Luka Prijatelj

Luka Prijatelj Urphänomen

In the fields of theoretical and philosophical reflection on the origins of photography, the question of why the invention of photography did not take place before 1839 – the year officially recognised as the year of its invention and its name, is posed often. The exciting explorations that paved the way for photography, in its now recognisable form, had been going on for several decades before that, since the turn of the 18th and 19th century. In what can be described as the pre-history of photography, the explorers of the time (called proto-photographers by Geoffrey Batchen) were conducting their own researches on light, optics and chemical processes. Today, however, we can recognise these efforts as a historical turnaround in the conception of photographic thought, which was built on the previous extension of the thought frameworks of the Enlightenment philosophy.


Luka Prijatelj’s photographic practice draws on early experiments and observations of the refraction of white light through prismatic glasses, studied first by Isaac Newton and later by Johann W. Goethe. Newton argued that the colours he observed when light refracted through a prism were the basic components of white light, while Goethe went one step further and defined the formation of colours in terms of the interaction of light and darkness, also adding to this equation the human perception in relation to what is being observed.


Prijatelj reflects, in the context of photographic recording, on these light studies and creates his artworks through a specific working process and his own methodology. The photographic works presented in Urphänomen are the result of observing and documenting the spectral refraction of white light in the controlled environment of a photographic darkroom. He breaks down the logic of the photographic apparatus into its basic components and uses a methodical approach to create his own apparatus consisting of a white light source, a modifier, prismatic glass and photographic film or paper.


The process results in light prints that are difficult to categorise into previously established photographic norms, as the indexical link between the referent (white light) and the resulting photograph is transformed as the light passes through the prism and changes its initial appearance. The prismatic refraction of white light reveals the colour spectrum. The artist’s gesture is expressed by changing the positions of the constitutive elements within his own creative apparatus, and the interference with the components of the apparatus stems from the desire to understand the dialectic between light and darkness and their appearances in the context of the photographic medium. Friend’s artistic practice is a bridge between the past and the present, connecting the rich pre-history of photography with contemporary photographic discourse.

Selected Exhibitions


OFF Grid Festival, Vienna, Austria


Sled / Trace, DLUL, Ljubljana, Slovenia


Prekleti dež, Mala galerija Banke Slovenije, Ljubljana, Slovenia


Prepih, Peter Rauch – Paviljon, MSUM, Ljubljana, Slovenia


CLIPP Award 2016, The Perth Centre for Photography, Perth, Australia 

Exhibition arrow

Luka Prijatel Urphänomen C-Print
Luka Prijatelj Urphänomen C-Print
Luka Prijatelj Urphänomen C-Print
Luka Prijatelj Urphänomen C-Print
Luka Prijatelj Urphänomen C-Print
Luka Prijatelj Urphänomen C-Print
Luka Prijatelj Urphänomen C-Print