Congratulations to GRAIN for the new magazine issue. Thanks for including Belgrade Photo Month exhibitions that were part of Demofest Festival in Banja Luka with Marija Jankovic & Deyan Clement projects. We can’t wait for next!
24th April – 6th April 2017.
Felicia Simion’s photography installation Carpethian raises concerns about the preservation of tradition in modern society by revealing current ways in which traditional carpets are being utilized in her homeland Romania. The exhibition fosters a personal focus on the carpets owned by Simion’s relatives who live in the rural villages of Oltenia. In engaging with a community not yet swallowed by the full-fledged contemporaneity found in urban environments glimpses of bygone relics and past customs can be found and nurtured amongst a remote village setting. However nothing seems completely out of reach for modernity’s tinkering hand and it is the forms in which these customs have inevitably changed that continues Simion’s ongoing investigation into the evolution of tradition. Since the earliest carpets were hand woven in Armenia and Persia they have been attributed with many roles, whether practical or symbolical. From serving as thermal insulation for nomadic tribes’ tents, being adopted as a place of worship and prayer, to becoming a status symbol of wealth and prestige, or purely serving as beautiful decorative objects. With its diverse use and purpose the carpet has always been a part of the daily cultural life of communities in many nations. These days the carpet has been reduced to decoration and is a common staple in home décor stores. Made en masse in factories by machines, the personal human touch is void in the production of modern rugs and the craftsmanship and knowledge of their creation becoming a thing of the past. To own a hand-woven carpet has become a fetishised commodity in modern Western civilizations and problematic in that the owners are unaware of the objects rich history and place in culture. Specific to Romania, Oltenian carpets commonly bore a floral design and were gifted as a dowry for marriages. These carpets bore symbolic significance and would represent the social status of a family, with some carpets specifically customised for certain families that would incorporate patterns and motifs that could represent their amount of wealth, field of work, and history within the design. It was a privilege to own such an object and due to the carpets prestige people would display them in specific areas of the house, often on walls to exhibit their abundance, or immortalise their image with the carpets by standing for their portrait in front of them. Taken in the rural villages of Plenița, Ciocănești and Novaci, Simion documents the history of her own relatives’ carpets by appropriating the aforementioned style of photography popular in Romania one century ago. Staging her subjects in front of the carpets they’ve kept in their homes, she creates a visual juxtaposition between their casual modern attire and the old fashioned style of their rugs. Adversely she inverts this contrast in her self-portrait in which she is presented wearing a traditional Oltenian costume yet pictured in front of a carpet bought by her parents only years ago in a modern furniture store. The carpets featured in her families’ portraits were mainly bought to indulge the beginning of something new, from moving into a new apartment, to marking the demise of communism, or a purchase for a persons wedding, perhaps a hangover from the days of marriage dowries. Reasons for possessing such carpets have shifted into the realm of commodity and the rugs of her family have gradually veered from a traditional Romanian style to that of less precious Turkish and Oriental reproductions.
While Simion’s portraits provide an insight into the contemporary homes of rural Romania and their nostalgia with its rich and colourful past, her enquiry poses a much broader question about the place of tradition in the 21 st century. In discontinuing the handmade production and purchase of domestic Romanian carpets what could be at stake of being lost for the cultures history? In an age where their value is displayed on the opposing binaries of ‘the souvenir shop’ and ‘the heritage museum’ both catering heavily to tourism, how will traditions like these carpets be remembered by Romanian locals as they continue to warp and shift their meaning into a state of commodification. When confronted with Simion’s photographs, bound up in memory with their beauty and personal integrity, I’m left pondering mostly whether this commodification is a cultures move towards progress or alternately a mistake in abandoning its past.
24th April – 2nd May 2017
Wolfgang Müllner’s photographs are marine panoramas of a kind familiar from vacation shots. The horizon divides the picture right down the middle. Müllner then takes the color information “inscribed in” a given picture and calculates the average tonal values of sea and sky, respectively. He uses these two values to “overwrite” the image with monochrome fields, pushing the original motif back to the edges of the picture so that it serves as a mere “passe-partout,” a matte for a new form that renders an interpretation of the same segment of reality.
Martin Breindl’s graphic cycle Die Sehnsucht nach dem Meer (konkrete Version) translates the “longing for the sea” into a literal “description” of identical motifs. An imaginary horizon line splits the superimposed words HIMMEL und MEER, or SKY and SEA, in two and reconstructs them. Step by step, Breindl lends concrete substance to the composition by applying the same method to different manifestations and a spectral perception of the motif, almost incidentally revealing it to be a mirror image. Müllner’s and Breindl’s works are at heart essays in writing. The dialogue between the pictures playfully dismantles the distinction between “photography” and “graphic art.” What Müllner conceives of as the multiplicity of seascapes is to Breindl’s mind an instance of linguistic variety. Both perspectives are systematic and formulaic, suggesting the ways in which industrial standards and specifications inform our increasingly “automated” perception of the world around us.
20th April – 2nd May 2017
The photographs from the Belgrade’s homeless shelter capture the time and the space in which the beneficiaries of different ages, psychical and physical conditions, are waiting for something. They are waiting to be put in a nursing home, waiting for the lunch time, coffee, a cigarette…waiting to go farther away. There’s no life course as we usually know it, because these people are not part of the system. Like some kind of visions, they float in the space of the photographies, indifferent to /not aware of the beholding eye of the camera which confirms their absence from the value system that surrounds them.
20st April – 2nd April 2017.
FOLLOWING THE LIGHT is the Photo Association of Serbia’s traditional exhibition of awarded photographs in the previous year. The formal opening of this eleventh consecutive exhibition is scheduled for Thursday, 20 April, at 7 p.m. at Galerija ’73 (Požeška 83a, Banovo Brdo). The exhibition will remain open until 2 May 2017.
Belgrade Photo Month, Galerija ’73 and the Photo Association of Serbia will continue their successful cooperation by organizing a springtime, traditional FOLLOWING THE LIGHT photography exhibition. FOLLOWING THE LIGHT is the Serbian Photo Association’s presentation of the best achievement of its foremost authors, an annual review of amateur photography aimed toward the affirmation of photography and its authors. The exhibits comprise all the photographs that have received awards in the course of 2016 at leading exhibitions in the country and abroad. On this occasion, the digital collection of PAS contemporary photographs has been expanded to include the new works of some 50 authors.
FOLLOWING THE LIGHT can safely be qualified as the exhibition of exhibitions in Serbia. It is a presentation of the best photographs of Serbian authors who have won gold, silver, and bronze
prizes at renowned first class competitions at home and at international competitions abroad,
primarily those under the patronage of FIAP (Fédération Internationale de Art Photographique). This year’s catalogue, as in former years, will have a list of works and will feature a reproduction of each of the exhibited authors. The exhibition at Galerija ’73 will also display one work of each author, with the aim of presenting to the public the current achievement of PAS members. The exhibited photographs are of high quality and fittingly arranged for the exhibition, in keeping with the practice of former years of presenting in the springtime term at Galerija ’73 the award-winning works of members of the Photo Association of Serbia.
FOLLOWING THE LIGHT have been held since 2007, with this year’s as the eleventh consecutive
Belgrade University Library
19th April – 13th May 2017
The good wife, is comprehensive, multimedia project from 2015. started with series of self-portraits in which the author is questioning the role that woman has in the contemporary society, where this
‘contemporary’ is more like a linguistic curtain, that hides totally opposite show and intent from the
patriarchy, to save its positions and domination. With ironic approach, author uses his body and props, trying to trivialize the ideas of ‘the good wife’, playing with frequent stereotypes, from the typical ones, good mother, to flower fixer or the queen of the kitchen. His heroines are free from their identity; they are static, frozen and ‘nicely packed’ sculptures, perfect ornaments for your home. This question could be generalized to the point where we can ask ourselves one even more schizophrenic than this, why the bad is bad and the good is good, and what is criteria for that polarization. Or, if woman has a right to choose, how than she can’t have her own choice.How do we find the balance in those irreconcilable positions, the ones that the society give to me and the ones I choose myself, it is most important question in the second part of the work, where the focus is “in her eyes” , and asks us to look and see what it is that she is seeing.
Retraditionalization is more and more in everyday life, and in many bigger cultures than the one we live in, but what is interesting for Clement, is the phenomenon of mythologization and fiction in those traditions we learn about; in mainstream media we see a woman fighting against a woman who gave her right to be in mainstream media and fight for or against anything; very common conflict between what the lobbyist is saying and the way that he lives; terrifying statistic that each year is rising more and more in violence against woman, from the psychological one to the one with fatal outcome; all of that is motivation for this work to be created. For the author most important thing is making philosophical task, not the reason for debate or building up of your own side on this topic, but the reason to think about it, to question it, to analyze yourself and the world around you through his artistic idea.
Winner of the European Publishers’ Award of Photograpy (EPAP) 2009
EAST TO EAST : published by 6 European publishers:
-Actes Sud, France
-Dewi Lewis Publishing, England
-Braus Verlag, Germany
-Peliti Associati Editore, Italy
-Apeiron Editions, Gteece
Text by Erri de Luca
Twenty years ago, a dividing wall was breached and the door to Eastern Europe thrown wide open. To talk of ‘the fall of the Berlin Wall’ is not strictly accurate: it didn’t fall down, there was no subsidence. Its time had passed and it was torn down. I have been a builder; for many years I have also knocked down walls – it’s good when they are no longer needed. To tear down a dividing wall is wonderful; to clear away the sentry post on a border which no longer exists. The one thing I love about new Europe is the abolition of internal borders. I love the word ‘union’. Walls have two sides and two purposes: one is to offer protection from the outside elements, theother to keep people in – to imprison those inside. The twentieth century has seen more imprisonment than any other period in the history of mankind. In my own country, Italy, people of my generation, the last revolutionary left-wing generation of the West, have been imprisoned more often than at any other time in the history of the country, shattering the record of incarceration set during the Fascist years. The walls of the twentieth century were built to confine people.
Klavdij Sluban comes from the segregated half of Europe, he is used to fences and to bars. He has even taught photography in prison. In this book he visits the East, an East whose people have been
set free, like monks released from an enclosed order. Twenty years ago, in Berlin, a dam was demolished. One autumn evening, a throng, a tidal wave of people poured towards the forbidden half of the divided city through the first breach in the wall. Just a few metres and they were reunited with their compatriots. That night Germany slowly began to emerge from the effects of a war that had been lost forty four years before.Twenty years ago the Eastern part of a world in conflict, a world then divided in two, broke down the barriers and broke ranks. Poland, Hungary, East Germany: Eastern Europe dismantled the locks and the bolts. In Romania, the Latin Slavs subjected their dictator and his wife to summary trial and quick execution by firing squad. Like his fellow countrymen Klavdij Sluban, who spent his childhood in Livold, Slovenia, belonged to Yugoslavia, a country which ended up being torn apart in the final decade of the century. As an aid convoy driver, I experienced the war of the southern Slavs: as soon as the shackles of union were removed they became free to destroy each other. I saw the flowering bushes of barbed wire, the multiplication of frontiers, the desecration of graveyards, the destruction of places of worship, the names expunged from registers one by one. From this region of all-consuming hatred the photographer emerges, his Leica slung over his shoulder and loaded with black and white film. He tells about those in the East, to those who hardly knew the East existed. For those who, like me, know that the day begins in the East, the photographer’s revelations upset the equilibrium, revealing the shadows that emanate from there. Even the snow is dark, the light a faded white, exiled to the surface. The photographer walks through the abandoned cities of the East. Where have all the inhabitants gone? Is anyone left hidden in the mist, is there some poor wretch on the run or with their back to the wall. The photographer presses on, in search of people, beyond Europe, advancing into Asia, Russia, Mongolia, China, on the Trans-Siberian Railway, but he finds no areas of dense population. Everywhere it is the geography that dominates, making human beings insignificant. Lake Baikal, in Siberia, the deepest lake in the world and the richest in oxygen, is an unseeing eye to those on the passing train. To those who know of Asia as a continent teeming with billions of people the prophetic vision of an empty world is offered. It is peopled only by the one or two souls who are left after who knows what mass exodus or population disaster: the remaining few live on there without hope. The Hebrew word kèdem indicates both time past and the East. The journey of the photographer, rather than leading him to an East that is conceived as time past, opens a crack in the wall of time and takes him into the future. He visits the East as if he were a pilgrim consulting an oracle. From it he receives visions veiled in smoke and mist: the East is a defeated future, a time yet to come for humanity, stretched out and flexing, as if it were a tail, still wagging, if only feebly. The tail, as every butcher knows, is the hardest part to skin. And the future depicted here in photographic images is hard, hard to listen to. From the noisiest century of all, the greatest producer of mechanical clatter, we shall pass into a world of silence. The future will be accompanied by the silence of those who have been struck dumb. In these photographs, the use of black and white is like the fitting of a silencer to the barrel of a gun. The photographer is a marksman. The rumble of escalators, nuclear power stations, trains and urban landscapes breaks up into whispers. The photographer is homesick for the native snow of his childhood, the snow that used to blanket his corner of the world. But here it has become a white leprosy; it doesn’t coat the ground but eats away at it. Its silence is oppressive. Occasionally the photographer uses a fast exposure to capture a movement, a sudden rush. More often he uses a long exposure and a very small aperture, so that the image is suffused with silence. To give subjects stillness a longer exposure is required. Stillness is the state of grace of a messianic moment, not the thrill of a divine visitation, but the conclusion of a race. The trunks of four slender birches stand out from the wood, like sentries in white. They signal the land’s return to nature, free from human intervention, reclaimed by the wind. I am moved by the single historical flashback which appears in the book, the rush of the sailors across the square for the onslaught on the Winter Palace. The photographer wasn’t there, but he wanted to recreate the scene, and so he photographed a painting exhibited in a museum in St. Petersburg, known as Leningrad to those of us from the twentieth century. It is the only image of a mass of people in motion in the book and it comes from a painting from the beginning of the revolutionary era. Anyone with an imaginative ear can hear the crackle of the bullets and crunch of the trodden snow. The balance of power between the oppressors and the oppressed was changing throughout the world with the revolutions in the East. Ours was a century of insurgents. One photograph is a portrait of our times, the face of a woman with her lips parted to kiss
nothingness, caught in a mirror image. She is turning and is divided for ever. The whole of the East
looks in this way towards the West. Its speechless gaze is the mutest of the whole collection: it
offers and invites a greeting – and silences the onlooker.
Erri de Luca