In Re-establishing Relations

Sanja Kojić Mladenov

One of the basic themes in the multimedia explorations of the artist couple diSTRUKTURA/Milica Milićević and Milan Bosnić is the dialogue between natural and urban landscapes in the context of man’s contemporary way of life. The theoretical basis for this artistic approach lies with Henry David Thoreau, Guy Debord, Arne Næss, Baudelaire, Gilles Clément, Caspar David Friedrich and other artists and philosphers who, through their actions, influenced the development of a number of social movements such as: the environmental protection movement, deep ecology, situationism, symbolism and so forth. diSTRUKTURA points out the significant influence they have had on the development of social awareness and the need for individual contribution and acts of civil disobedience regarding issues pertaining to the relations between man and nature, the process of industrialisation and urbanisation of space, environmental polution, freedom of public space and so forth. In reminding us of Thoreau’s literary work entitled Walden or, Life in the Woods published in 1854, the authors revisit critically two fundamental life philosophies  – one directed at society’s industrialisation, urbanisation, economic and technological development and the other at simple living in a natural enviornment, in coalition with nature. They underline the importance of differences but do not give immediate priority to singularity and follow Arne Næss who appreciated biodiversity and believed that every being had the right to live and flourish in co- existence with others in a complex network of interpersonal relationships and relations.

As of 2005 diSTRUKTURA adopted a processual approach to exploration to create a series of works, in the medium of photography, entitled Face to Face the result of ecologic theoretical stands, continual travels and new visual experiences of landscapes they visited for various research purposes, during their frequent residencies, when exhibiting their art works, visiting exhibitions and other important art events. On Serbia’s art scene the artist couple is a rare example of artists who have been present abroad for years where they create and exhibit their works, establish contacts and relations with international protagonists and so enrich their art practice and render it increasingly visible.

The cycle of photographs Face to Face replicates in an explicit manner the romanticised scene of the spectator who is directly confronted with the sublime and incredible scenes of the post-industrial landscape as an example of Social and Mental Ecology. The scene itself alludes to the tradition of landscape painting in Romanticism, in particular the works of Caspar David Friedrich dominated by the lonely figure, often a man’s silhouette with his back turned as he observes silently the nature before him. The intention of the authors is to respresent the experience of being part of nature or of becoming part of nature, namely of standing before nature face to face by documenting each and every place they visit in their travels, from cutlural capitals such as Vienna and Cairo to industrial installations, sand dunes, fields, woods and river canyons. This is how they create their own intimate space against a landscape that emerged with society’s technological development, accelerated urban living and the destruction of the natural enviroment. The different motifs of natural and urban landscapes throughout the world have thus become the object of their joint, isolated contemplation inviting the public with artistic means to join in. In most photographs in the cycle the artists are alone in their role of spectators but a number of works shows the local population which gives emphasis to each specific place. In a way this cycle represents the fundamentals of the stand taken by the artist couple regarding nature and man and, at the same time, is the constant fellow traveller in all their voyages offering insight into permanent movement and life’s connectedness to art. The main feature of diSTRUKTURA’s art practice and the Face to Face project is characteristic to the contemporary understanding of art and artists who, today, as creative travellers, cross the borders of disciplines, formats and space, who are like nomads in permanent movement exploring the cultures they visit in order to record and document that seen and who then process and reproduce the experienced. By emphasising the subjective experience of that seen, they map the terrain they travel through, bring back new knowledge, contemplations and concepts and then transpose them into different geopolitical environments thus creating segments of the contemporary global art scene.

In the Face to Face cycle of photographs diSTRUKTURA works in the landscape genre by referring to its historical role of glorifying landscapes but, at the same time, they observe it from within the contemporary social context. Their point of departure are ideas in Romanticism where the landscape was a symbol of escape, the idyllic space of reverie and contemplation, an image aiming at unravelling beauty in contrast to a space cut out by human activity which is often quite brutally exploited industrially. This is a portrait of nature as an isolated object that needs protection such as, for example, the photograph created in the vicinity of the Krško nuclear plant in Slovenia where the ecological problem is evident.

The aspiration to construct a broader approach to nature, the desire for change, reflections on the importance of man’s return to life’s environment and re-establishment of their severed relations in a time of accelerated technological development are some of the key ideas in the Face to Face cycle. Following the industrial and technological revolution, the 21st century is charactersed by the digital revolution and information boom resulting in the greatest alienation experienced by man both from nature and other human beings. At a time of crisis of basic life values, diSTRUKTURA believes that the artist can have an important role in pointing out issues, in re-establishing relations and in the construction of new points of view. Their priority is not to create new theories or philisophical frames; instead they refer to existing and known ideas, art forms and motives through a contemporary social and cultural context thus clearly positioning their art explorations in the contemporary moment which renders the work of the couple diSTRUKTURA currently relevant and in line with contemporary European practices.

* Sanja Kojić Mladenov is an art historian and the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina (MSUV / MoCAV) in Novi Sad, Serbia.

U ponovnom uspostavljanju odnosa

Sanja Kojić Mladenov

Razvijajući svoju višemedijsku istraživačku praksu, umetnički par diSTRUKTURA /Milica Milićević i Milan Bosnić, kao jednu od osnovnih tema koristi dijalog prirodnog i urbanog pejzaža u kontekstu načina života savremenog čoveka. Ovakav vid umetničkog pristupa za svoju teorijsku bazu koristi stavove Henrija Davida Toroa (Henry David Thoreau), Gi Debora (Guy Debord), Anre Nesa (Anre Næss), Bodlera (Baudelaire), Žil Klementa (Gilles Clément), Kaspara Fridriha Davida (Caspar David Friedrich) i drugih umetnika i filozofa koji su svojim delovanjem uticali na razvoj različitih društvenih pokreta, kao što su: pokret za očuvanje životne sredine, duboka ekologija, situacionizam, simbolizam i slično. diSTRUKTURA ukazuje na njihov bitan uticaj na razvoj društvene svesti o neophodnosti ličnog doprinosa i akta građanske neposlušnosti u pitanjima vezanim za odnos čoveka i prorode, proces industrijalizacije prostora, njegove urbanizacije, zagađenje prirode, slobodu javnog prostora i slično. Podsećajući nas na književno delo Toroa „Valden“ („Walden or, Life in the Woods“, iz 1854. godine), autori preispituju odnos dve osnovne životne filozofije, jedne upućene na proces industrijalizacije društva, urbanizaciju, ekonomsku i tehnološku razvijenost i druge okrenute ka jednostavnom životu u prirodnom okruženju, u koaliciji sa prirodom. Ističu značaj postojanja različitosti, ali bez direktnog davanja prednosti pojedinačnom u duhu stavova Arne Nesa koji je cenio vrednost biodiverziteta i shvatanja da svako živo biće ima pravo da živi i cveta, što je uslovljeno postojanjem drugih u složenoj mreži međusobnih odnosa i relacija.

diSTRUKTURA je kroz procesualni pristup istraživanju od 2005. razvila seriju radova Face to Face, izvedenih u mediju fotografije, a nastalih kao rezultat ekoloških teorijskih stavova, stalnih putovanja i novih vizuelnih doživljaja predela u koje su odlazili različitim istraživačkim povodima, tokom čestih rezidencijalnih boravaka, prezentacije svog umetničkog rada, poseta izložbama i drugim značajnim umetničkim događajima. Ovaj umetnički par predstavlja retki primer na savremenoj umetničkoj sceni Srbije koji je kontunuirano godinama prisutan i u inostranstvu, gde producira i prikazuje svoje radove, uspostavlja kontakte i relacije sa internacionalnim protagonistima, te obogaćuje svoju umetničku praksu i čini je sve vidljivijom.

Ciklus fotografija Face to Face na eksplicitan način replicira romantizovanu scenu posmatrača koji je direktno suočen sa uzvišenim i neverovatnim scenama post-industrijskog pejzaža, kao primera nove Društvene i Mentalne ekologije (Social and Mental Ecology). Sama scena aludira na tradiciju pejzažnog slikarstva iz perioda romantizma, posebno na dela Kaspara Davida Fridriha (Caspar David Friedrich), na kojima dominira usamljena figura, često silueta čoveka predstavljena s leđa, kako nemo posmatra prirodu ispred sebe. Namera autora je da predstavi iskustvo biti deo prirode ili postajati deo prirode, odnosno biti licem u lice sa prirodom kroz proces beleženja svakog mesta koje autori posete tokom svojih putovanja, od prestonica kulture kao što su Beč, Kairo preko industrijskih postrojenja, do peščanih dina, polja, šuma i rečnih kanjona. Na taj način formiraju sopstveni, intimni prostor nasuprot pejzaža nastalog kao rezultat tehnološkog razvoja društva, ubrzanog života grada ili razaranja prirodne sredine. Različiti motivi prirodog i urbanog predela širom sveta postali su tako predmet njihove zajedničke, izolovane kontemplacije u koju su umetničkim sredstvima pozvali publiku da im se pridruži. U većini fotografija iz ovog ciklusa, nalaze se sami umetnici u ulozi posmatrača, dok je kod nekolicine učestvovalo lokalno stanovništvo koje je naglasilo kontekst svakog specifičnog mesta. Na neki način ovaj ciklus predstavlja bazu stavova ovog umetničkog para o odnosu prirode i čoveka, a istovremeno i stalnog saputnika svih njihovih putovanja, pružajući uvid u stalno kretanje, te povezanost umetnosti i života. Odlika umetničke prakse diSTRUKTURE i projekta Face to Face karakteristična je za savremeno poimanje umetnosti i umetnika, koji danas kao kreativni putnici prelaze granice različitih disciplina, formata i prostora, koji su kao nomadi u neprestanom kretanju kako bi istražili druge kulture u koje odlaze da bi beležili i dokumentovali viđeno, a zatim obradili i reprodukovali doživljeno. Naglašavajući subjektivni doživljaj viđenog , mapiraju teren kroz koji prolaze, donose nova znanja, razmišljanja i koncepte i zatim ih prenose u različite geopolitičke sredine čineći segment globalne savremene umetničke scene.

diSTRUKTURA kroz ciklus fotografija Face to Face koristi žanr pejzaža, referišući na njegovu istorijsku ulogu veličanja predela, ali istovremeno ga posmatrajući kroz savremeni društveni kontekst. Polaze od ideja romantizma u kojem je pejzaž predstavljao simbol bekstva, idiličnog prostora za sanjarenje ili razmišljanje, slike koja teži prikazu lepote, dovodeći ga u komparaciju sa prostorom koji oblikuje ljudska aktivnost, koji je često i sasvim brutalno industrijski eksploatisan. U pitanju je portret prirode kao izolovanog objekta kojem je potrebna zaštita. Takav primer je fotografija nastala u okolini nuklearne elektrane Krško u Sloveniji, mesta na kojem je izražen ekološki problem.

Težnja za izgradnjom proširenog pogleda ka prirodi, želja za promenom, razmišljanja o značaju čovekovog vraćanja životnoj sredini i ponovnim uspostavljanjem njihovih pokidanih veza u vremenu brzog tehnološkog napretka, predstavljaju neke od ključnih ideja ciklusa Face to Face. Posle industrijske i tehnološke revolucije, 21. vek odlikuje digitalna revolucija i bum informacija koje su rezultirale najvećim otuđenjem čoveka kako od prirode tako i jednih od drugih. U vremenu krize osnovnih životnih vrednosti, diSTRUKTURA veruje da uloga umetnika može biti značajna u ukazivanju na problem, ponovnom uspostavljanju odnosa i izgradnji novih pogleda. Prioritet im nije kreiranje novih teorija i filozofskih okvira, koriste već postojeće i poznate ideje, umetničke forme i motive, ali kroz savremeni društveno – kulturni kontekst čime se njihova umetnička istraživanja jasno pozicioniraju u sadašnji trenutak i čine rad para diSTRUKTURA aktuelnim i bliskim savremenim evropskim praksama.

* Sanja Kojić Mladenov je istoričarka umetnosti i direktorka Muzeja savremene umetnosti Vojvodine (MSUV / MoCAV) u Novom Sadu, Srbija.

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