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Sanja Latinović, Nadežda Kirćanski – Unlucky You

That sadness the world may live on for centuries / oceans to feed / is not mine

Ognjenka Lakićević, The rising of fireflies

The plot of Shakespeare’s Hamlet starts with the scene in which Francisco, one of soldiers, in the attempt to identify the opportunity approaching to him, says: “/…/ stand, and unfold yourself“. This so layered phrase– unfold yourself – was translated into Serbia as simply as “say who you are”. The command pronounced by Francisco should be used for the identification of the person approaching him. However, if we were to translate these few words in a less accurate fashion, we would hear they contain another, far deeper meaning: “expose yourself to me”. Only then do we understand that the identity we should be faced with is not the one on the surface, name and surname, age number, occupation – “say who you are”, but name and surname, age number, occupation are required to tell us who is behind, or ahead of everything – “expose yourself to me”.

Exhibitions are the process of revelation: the artist is revealed to the audience, revealed to the critics, revealed to all of those who do not want to be excluded from that act. However, exhibitions which refer to an intensive cooperation of several artists include another process: revelation to the other and revelation of the other. Unfold yourself thus becomes an imperative – without complete revelation the synergy of pieces of art of different authors cannot be realized. Clear manifestation of the identity and field of meaning of individual piece of art becomes crucial for the possibility of understanding of joined force of the pieces which should exist one next to another and whose authors are different.

The exhibition Crna ti of Nadežda Kirćanski and Sanja Latinović is more than just another attempt of cutting and juxtapositioning of two artistic practices. In the process of selection and presentation of works, it faces us with the works which have been seen so far in a different context or have only recently emerged, so this exhibition contextualizes them just now. In both cases, whether it is about exhibited or non- exhibited works, the level of their connection is equal to the level of trust that this very joining of two artistic attitudes will enable the creation of a new, more coherent communication space in which the message would keep its authenticity and gain new strength.

From the very name of the exhibition, artists introduce the observer in the stage of preparation for what he/she is about to experience: Crna ti as an exclamation of shock or as quietly mumbled words of sadness or as an expression of understanding. Whatever these words mean and however they are expressed, they have the statement strength in our culture, the strength of a final judgement after which nothing is added – they are expressed in order to mark something irrevocably. In this respect, Crna ti is a completely appropriate title for facing with pieces of art after which we will understand that we are all marked by the layers of meaning carried by them. Unlucky us.

Although different in visual expression, both Nadežda Kirćanski and Sanja Latinović in their works explore the phenomena of life and feelings of a contemporary man. If we rely on one of the theories on contemporary art which as its essential label highlights the capability of the artist to indicate to different aspects of existence in the current situation or show us how we could live, the works of both artists do exactly this for us – and for the art. While from their immediate experiences and insights about the society they develop the answers to questions they are interested in, the artists do not lose from their sight the fact that their art is not just their answer, but that it has the potential to become something in common, a unique scream of all those who would recognize the contemporary world in their works.

The objects, prints and installations of Nadežda Kirćanski refer the observer to thinking about the need for finding his/her place in the contemporary society: some of them completely directly and obviously, such as the piece ništa spec 2.0 BETA which by very dislocation of objects from their usual environment turns one familiar sight into an unusual and calls for the research of every part of this installation and the attempt of understanding of its, perhaps even literal, foundation; others do that indirectly, but with enough strength, such as Jusqu’ici tout va bien, almost vast pile of blisters turned into an artistic object by execution in porcelain. The look aiming at itself is inevitable when the observer meets the piece 3 godine, 3 meseca i 23 dana (3 years 3 months and 23 days), but the look which could strip us, really convinces us that it is necessary to expose ourselves in order to be capable of facing the objects whose condition, frozen in time and of suspended decay, suggests the quantity of the personal history contained in everyday objects. Prints, such as Urlam iz štitne (I scream from my thyroid), were executed almost as collateral notes of sentences we all heard once, simultaneously seem both anxious and liberating and penetrate to the very core of our (mis)understanding of that location which belongs to us and constantly eludes within the contemporary society.

Sanja Latinović speaks about similar phenomena through her performances and video performances. The complexities of our defense systems which may accept and present the truth of our unstable place in the world only when they can install in themselves enough obstacles for pain are the topic of the powerful video performance Abandoned. In the performance Akvarijum (Aquarium), at the exhibition thoughtfully set in the joint environmental whole next to the piece ništa spec 2.0 BETA by Nadežda Kirćanski, Latinović speaks about a similar type of fight with the unstable, disturbing and unexpected which wants to move us from the place we thought was finally ours. The performance Movements: White, performed with Ranko Đanković, was presented at this exhibition as a series of framed “relicts” of the wall in front of which the act of transmission of the sculpting sand from one to the other side of the wall was performed. And just like in the original performance the focus was on the quantity of the content which is lost in the process of the transmission of information (and emotions, perhaps), the addition of physical aspects of the space of the performance in one place as if it testified the possibility of keeping of the remaining information through active memory. Finally, Upotreba noža (Use of knife), as if in the inversion, repeats the fundamental motif of the piece Abandoned, this time as the will to fight for itself to get this indispensable space for actions and reversal of the situation which would lead to full control of what occurs before some walls.

Thoughtfully connected, works of Nadežda Kirćanski and Sanja Latinović are revealed to us as a deep cut and accurate intervention into the sensitive tissue of the contemporary society. Their value is not just in what the art theory requires from the truly contemporary art: to talk about the place, image of the world and connection. Their value is also in ruthless testimony of how we live, in what we turn and in the reminder that all sadness is so human, so common.

Nela Tonković