Born in ’86, Vasja Progar is one of the youngest makers in the field of contemporary music in Slovenia, an insightful and critical thinker, a graduate of biotechnology and a former student of composition and music theory under Uroš Rojko at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana whose radicality and faithfulness to his own expression made him quit this institution to embark on a study of cognitive systems and interactive media at the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. This compact sentence very neatly discloses Progar’s creativity in the area of music. Young as he is, Progar already presented his compositions in the Slovenian Philharmonic in the frame of the festival Slowind in 2009 and at the Slovene Music Days in 2010. The transition from his 2008 composition for choir “Ay, Green Are All the Highlands”, a remake of the Slovenian folk song, to his later works is abrupt, incorporating and illustrating the tendencies of certain other young Slovenian composers, Progar’s colleagues Matej Bonin and Petra Strahovnik, for example, with whom Progar collaborated in the intermedia performance for chamber ensemble, a dancer/singer, live electronics and video, meaningfully entitled “Futturismo Hurra!!”, which, at its core, paid tribute to the historical movement of Futurism via the Futurist poem of the same title by Luciano Folgore. The intermedia nature of the work, which combines dance, movement, environmental and electronic sounds, and sounds of acoustic instruments, reveals the tendencies of the three young artists, who used to organise discussions, round tables, workshops and other gatherings together with their colleagues from Škuc Gallery, with which they were boldly breaking down the stuck-up and conservative ways of thinking that overwhelmingly prevail in Slovenian classical music. Vasja Progar goes farthest among his colleagues. His 2009 composition “Close to Silence”, performed by the acclaimed Slovenian contemporary wind ensemble Slowind, is anchored in the current reflections on silence, which – following John Cage – have been unwinding in contemporary music over the past twenty years. In this four-part composition, Progar constitutes silence through different perceptions: as a resonance, as latent energy, as absence in relation to sound, and as tension and abstraction in relation to music – which can also be non-music, a reflection, bound to the listener and his/her perception. And it is precisely here that Progar touches upon his idea, which he presents as “a focus on research and an unveiling of human perception through art form”. Today, Progar enacts this idea, this search, in numerous art environments; besides the music and sound ones, also in multimedia and interactive performances. These include those of video artists, dancers and poets, as for example in collaborations with Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Lebanese poets presented at the Ljubljana-based festival Live Literature in 2009 and 2010. Progar has opened up the thresholds of our perception and the senses even more in his interactive installation “Threshold”, where he – negotiating the limits of our perception – researches and reveals the boundary lines between perception and interpretation, pursuing an interpretation that is pushed into the elusive sphere of the illogical by the workings of the installation itself. In his work “Sub / Consciousness”, Progar investigates the space between the conscious and the unconscious by using different audiovisual stimulants, which take the form of pre-prepared sound textures, measurements of the heartbeat rate or the body’s blood pressure, and other visual stimuli mediated by the video by Ana Čigon and Rot Pulojva. These are then submitted to further sound manipulation and positioned into the space of the conscious and the unconscious, into a space through which we enter and exit the real and the virtual. The piece was presented at the exhibition and series of sound events, installations and performance art events Arzenal Depo/2k9, organised by Kapelica Gallery, which took place in Viba Studios in Ljubljana. Vasja Progar’s work is already penetrating abroad; his original works as well as his collaborations with other artists have been presented at Ars Electronica in Linz and at the Amber Festival in Istanbul. Indeed, Vasja Progar is presently the most outstanding and ear-catching of the names among the younger Slovenian creative talents, a name that we should by all means try to keep track of.
Vasja Progar was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He had a diverse education – besides obtaining a degree in Biotechnology (University of Ljubljana), he also spent three years studying Musical Composition and Theory (Academy of Music in Ljubljana). His musical interests took precedence and and he became involved in the contemporary and experimental musical scene, performing and lecturing – often reaching outside of frames of exclusively auditory art. Recently, he finished a master’s course in Cognitive Systems and Interactive Media (University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona).