Participants: Mihailo Vasiljević, Nina Todorović, Ivan Petrović, Goran Micevski, Aleksandrija Ajduković, Stefana Savić, Denis Jeremić, Dubravka Radusinović
Dislocations: The photo residence in Orlovat 2014
The photography residence in the village of Orlovat was instituted as a result of the need to create initiatives that would activate potentials of art residences as cultural, social, tourist and economic stimuli in the rural environment. Previous experience in organisation of art residences proved that artists working in the photography medium integrated their practice into a village and established communication with villagers through a direct and interactive approach. Photographers move around and talk to villagers, and their work is often created in direct collaboration with local inhabitants of various age. The participants of this year’s residence were Aleksandrija Ajduković, Mihailo Vasiljević, Denis Jeremić, Goran Micevski, Ivan Petrović, Stefana Savić and Nina Todorović. The created works incorporated various aspects of photograph as a document, archive item, means of communication, method for research of visual perception and cultural conventions. An integral part of the residence is a psychological-photographic workshop, run by the psychologist Dubravka Radusinović, whose aim is to acquaint participants with the analytical and creative potentials of photograph, not only through observation of other people’s photographs, but creation of one’s owns.
Mihail Vasiljević’s work represents, as its title suggests, A view to the first village houses in the twilight, Orlovat, Serbia. Orlovat belongs to a group of oldest Banat settlements, named after the eagle habitat located on the soil that turns into a shoal, sandbank or at (a Hungarian word meaning across), when flooded by the River Tamiš. The Vasiljević’s idea was to capture the place where, according to tradition, the first Orlovat settlers founded their homes; however, his intention could not be realised precisely because of the flooding of the River Tamiš. In consequence, the recorded black and white photograph documents a view to an inaccessible historical place and points out to a vast temporal distance from formative beginnings and the lack of absolute historical facts in exploration of the past. A photograph recording a trace of something that does not exist anymore is reduced to a view, in this case a landscape, while attribution by means of a photograph title opens up the possibility for recording the content at the dividing line between the past and the present. As a result, the landscape photograph is not necessarily only a representation of nature, but it can hold a symbolic potential.
Ivan Petrović exhibits the work comprised of three photographs: A herdsman in a tree shade eyes a herd of cows, near Botoš, Strnjište, cornfield, smoke and cloud; the Sečanj-Jarkovac road and A hired worker harvests onions, Orlovat, the last of which remained in the colony collection. His stay in Orlovat opened up to Petrović a new space in photographic practice, resulting in production of works entirely distinct from the existing series of his photographs. Although the photographs’ titles are defined with the aim of tautological attributions, the visual models rely on specific canons established throughout the history of photography and painting, which played part in socially engaged programmes, such as the works of French realist painters or the 1935 Farm Security Administration project in the USA. The role of photographer in political and economic reforms throughout the history, rehabilitation of agriculture and drawing attention to village poverty can be associated with these photographs, reflecting, at the first sight, Petrović’s warm impressions of the place where he stayed, along with its broader surroundings. The portrayed worker from Orlovat, known for his diligence, Stevan Vasiljev (Nanijin) is represented both very humanely and, at the same time, as a part of the nature; cultivating 17.5 ha of his own and hired land, he draws attention to the marginalised part of the society in the Serbian village.
By combination of motifs, landscape, still life and genre scene Denis Jeremić, in his work Transience, represents the ability of the photography medium to use framing to bring into relation several different elements and create new meaning in perception of daily environment. The black and white photograph captures a half-mowed field with a dead tree and bundled brunches, a religious symbol in the background and a man on the motorbike appearing from the high grass, out of nowhere, clearing the path for himself. By linking the title Transience with the recording of this peculiar situation, in which transience can be recognised in various, symbolic and tautological ways, Jeremić builds up his humorous approach to a serious philosophical subject, which includes reflections on flow of time, decay, death, the transcendent. At the same time, in this way, he points out to the fact that the man, as the most transient and the most vital category in the photograph, use precisely humour to defend himself from disappearing. Sharpening of perception, similar to Jeremić’s framing, has a potential to initiate, even during one’s daily life, associative series of aware observation of the environment and situations.
Aleksandrija Ajduković’s work Shining cows was created in collaboration with herdsmans Dor Đenčan, Jovica Stanišić, Ljubinko Čokić, Miroslav Čirjak and Predrag Ivanov from Orlovat and Dragan Stanišić Lepi and Santo Bandi from Tomaševac. It was some sort of master class held in the countryside, in which herdsmen received short training on use of collapsible reflector in the photographing/shooting process. In the course of direct communication between the artist and the herdsmen, it often happened that the latter assisted in organisation and took over the role of a lightning technician in order to enhance the shooting process. The impression of forming a temporary film crew was created, where even the photographed animals showed readiness and patience. While observing the way cows behave in situations typical of humans, Ajduković discovers the phenomenon of anthropomorphism of animals, used in the film industry. The photograph as the final product depicts a herdsman who casts a light on a cow with a collapsible reflector, indicating performativity of the entire process of creation of a photographic work, which is both entertaining and brings people closer together.
Referring to the novel by Luigi Pirandello in which film and photograph play an important role, Stefana Savić entitles her work Watch out, shooting in progress. In that manner, she already points out to characteristics of the film frame and photographic picture included in two photographs created in collaboration with Dragan and Jelena Živanov, the members of the household where she stayed in Orlovat. The work consists of two staged photographs. One depicts a man photographed from the back, carrying a jar with the malformed pig in formalin, while the other represents a mysterious woman with a bag, in a pose similar to that of the man, standing leaning on the edge of the Orlovat bridge. They are representations of ambivalent character, not disclosing what the actors will do next, opening the possibility for building up of different scenarios, which is a feature of photographic image, while the film contains a narrative that limits the imaginative potential of the viewer. Precisely the marginal, non-defined situations become a screen on which every viewer projects his or her identity and where their interpretations say more about themselves than the depicted scene does. By staging situations, the photographer creates the mirror in which we discover ourselves and the others.
The work Case Study; minimalism in Orlovat (1966-2014) by Goran Micevski represents a composition similar to a minimalistic grid, composed of a central photograph and smaller square photographs distributed so as to form two wings of a triptych. The central photograph is a staged situation, taken in the Orlovat Brickyard, with colony curators as actors, while the other photographs were recorded while moving through the village. The work builds on the author’s homage to important artists and art works from the history and their connecting at the symbolic level with the observed scenes from the daily life. In this case, he takes as the reference the brick installations by the well-known representative of the minimalism, Carl Andre. In its ideological basis, the minimalism is a constructive model aimed at executing its design plan in the ideal form, which does not occur in reality. The instance of Orlovat’s minimalism, that is, a heap of bricks of most diverse forms, recorded by Micevski, testifies to the intention to create something constructive, to improve the existing; however, that intention frequently remains unrealised in the context of cultural heritage, architecture and culture of living.
Nina Todorović’s primary interest for architecture has also marked her work The Orlovat’s baroque, which consists of six photographs created by the technique of overlapping of two motifs: bricks freshly produced in the local brickyard and decorative prints used to cover the inner walls of houses in Vojvodina. The baroque quality and playfulness of the coloured floral shapes contrast with cold functionality of monochromatic bricks, building elements that are to become architecture in the future. That exterior architecture is viewed through a filter of decorative motifs, which can represent a metaphor of inner mood and colour the experience of a certain object. These wall ornaments are used in houses even today; they are part of the tradition and the link with the past. The superimposition of two or more photographs points out both to the process of blending of the outer and the inner, and to the constant intertwining of the past and the present. Fostering the culture of living in a house as a sort of warm nest, a space of identity formation and a guardian of family memories, proves as an important factor in creation of personal histories and safeguarding of cultural heritage.