While trying to describe how the social space in Serbia has been produced in recent history and what are the main driving forces that are shaping it up, I came up with the formulation of the perverse marriage between predatory capitalism and aggressive Orthodox Christianity. Here I would have to emphasize that each social space is distinct and that the subtle nuances and subvariations are making it specific. The social transformations in Serbia thus introduced a very special type of neoliberal “crony” capitalism based on patrimony.
On the other hand, the strong resurgence of Orthodox Christianity had fostered the processes of retraditionalization in all spheres of society and pushed aside the idea of contemporaneity which was very important for the socialist Yugoslavia. In such a society, history has become a major source for reinforcing national identity, but herewith exactly lays the danger of collective amnesia and erasure of all “undesired” narratives that are shading light on the sore points in constitution of such a “homogenized” national social space. The neoliberal tendencies and financial moguls are giving a hand to such processes by spatially whipping out and “building new layers” over the remnants and remains of such narratives both in public space and in media, such as holocaust from WWII, repression and deportation of German minority in Vojvodina after WWII, or genocide and ethnic cleansing in recent wars in 1990s.
The politics of remembering, media manipulation and creation and reinterpretation of the historical narratives represent the main fields of interest in the artistic work of Vladimir Miladinovic. The starting point for him is the introspective method of analysis of the ways the media influenced his subjectivization in the period of wars and dissolution of Yugoslavia. From today’s perspective, Miladinovic gives fresh insight into the actual reinterpretations of these historical events. While following the processes of social transformations in Serbia, the artist reflects upon the current problems in all spheres of society. In the series of works The Worker in Protest, the author gives sharp comment of the media censorship and cover-up of the protests and strikes of workers, and in general the position and rights of the workers in today’s social system of predatory capitalism in Serbia. Miladinovic is mostly using the classical media such as painting and drawing to precisely, with brutal realism depict, document and transmit the events that could be seen as symptoms of the social problems. He would like to bring back to the public realm these events that were erased and suppressed through political and media manipulation.
Nikola Radić Lucati
Nikola Radić Lucati is dealing with the history of Holocaust and Genocide through the prism of the actual status of architectural heritage in the period of post-transitional normalization in Serbia. In several projects (Predictable Outcomes, The Record, Communal Dwellings, etc.) he is thematizing the neglect Serbian government has for the places of such symbolic importance like the old Fair Ground in New Belgrade that was turned into a concentration camp in WWII. Furthermore, through his artistic research, he is exposing the ignorance of the authorities to recognize and acknowledge other sites and venues of mass crimes. With his exhibitions, the artist is actually documenting the processes of depolitization of the “memory speech” of the minority groups that is “silenced” and hegemonized by both strong nationalist politics and neoliberal urban restructurings. From the primary media of photography, in the projects like The Record, Radić Lucati is transposing the photographic records and collected archival documents into a solid material like steel, thus symbolically giving them connotation of commemorative plaques and denying the ephemeral status and erasure of these historical narratives from Serbian society.
One of the main research points in both the teaching and artistic practice of Dejan Atanacković is focused on the social and historical aspects of the problem of disappearance – its causes and consequences. In the context of Serbia and Yugoslavia, this field of interest is best exemplified by the project German Lessons, where the artist is preoccupied with the fear of society to face its own past and acknowledge the problem of repression of the German population living in Vojvodina after WWII. Ethnic Germans that used to live there from the 18th Century were deprived of their civil rights; their property was confiscated by the state, and finally they were either sent to labor camps or secluded and starved to death. The records of these historical deeds were ignored for decades and just recently brought back into the public sphere. In this evocative work Dejan Atanackovic, by means of lessons in a language that was discretely kept “silent” for decades in certain families, sheds light on the problem of the identities that were built on these repressed memories. By tracking down family stories, records, documents, and photos, including his own mother’s, he is addressing the problem of memory loss and erasure of historical events from a nation’s “collective consciousness”.
I have developed my professional activities in three main avenues. I see them as intertwined, strongly interconnected and with equal relevance in my work.
– My academic research (Belgrade University, Bauhaus Dessau, Media Faculty at Bauhaus University in Weimar) consisted of examining the meeting points of urban geography, spatial-cultural discourse, and theories of radical democracy. This discourse could be coined spatioanalysis (Raumdeutung), an analysis of libidinal circuits between subject, society and space, and their political implications. I continue to use these theoretical tools to reflect upon cultural phenomena and especially contemporary art practice. Furthermore, I have written text and essays, edited publications and magazines, and conducted research on such topics as the production of identity and identification, glocalization, precarious labour, etc.
-In curatorial practice I am trying to analyze the position of artists in the public sphere, and thematize problems that they are dealing with, while reflecting the social as well as institutional contexts in which they work. I am especially (but not exclusively) interested in research-informed artistic work that deals with different contextual layers of social space and how it is being produced and reproduced. My aim as a curator is to create a context where critical questions on certain issues in society that I am posing in conjunction with the artists would acquire more fertile ground for reception in the (cultural) public sphere.
– Finally, I have developed the model of workshop as a means for the production of knowledge as well as artistic production. I directed a program of curatorial workshops in Belgrade and internationally from 2000 to 2005. When I assumed the position of Head of the Centre for Visual Culture at Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade in 2005, I developed a specific methodology of work for this educational department. The focus was on local as well as international cooperation with professionals of various profiles in order to create an open laboratory where they could discuss and develop issues surrounding contemporary art and its social function in relation to the art system and socio-political context that frames it.