DISTRUST THE STORYTELLER
an exhibition which did (not) happen
with works by: Doplgenger, Vlado Danailov/ Mila Dimitrovska, Tilmann Meyer- Faje, Marko Tadić
curated by Nataša Bodrožić in the framework of the CDCM project
The final exhibition produced by Loose Associations in the framework of the international collaborative project “Collective Domain of Cultural Memory” (CDCM) was to open on April 14th 2020 at the VN Gallery in Zagreb. It was to feature four art works produced within the Motel Trogir Artist in Residence program (established by Loose Associations), three of which were produced last year. However, the exhibition never happened in a physical space due to the fact that we entered the world of pandemics on March 16th 2020. However, an online version of the exhibition is presented in a smaller scale on our web site, while video works/ films were presented to the Zagreb audience at the end of May, in private spaces, in accordance with the recommended preventive measures during the coronavirus disease pandemic.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
“You should be as distrustful of images as you are of words”
When describing the turning point in his film experience as a viewer, Vienna-based film director Michael Haneke pointed to the simple gesture of the main film character in the middle of a movie chase suddenly turning to face the camera, i.e. the viewer, and addressing a few offhand remarks to them. That moment, claims Haneke, marked for him „the loss of cinematic innocence that would indelibly mark every film he went on to direct“. From then on, he began to distrust the storytellers who claimed to be serving up real life.
Another filmmaker, Harun Farocki, both in his work and in his theoretical reflections, strives to analyse the ways moving images and cameras imbricate with our everyday lives. His works tend to denaturalise moving images. His films always engage his own powers of critical analysis and elicit his viewer to do the same.
Re-examining the politics of media images that had been instrumental in developing the historical narratives in the region of former Yugoslavia between 1980 and 2000, the period marked by a sequence of changes in social relations, an economic and political crisis and the events that contributed to the breakup of Yugoslavia, informs the art practice of the Belgrade-based duo Doplgenger. According to them, those constructed media images, as an important ideological state apparatus, served as a base for constructing personal and then collective memory. The question they ask themselves as a (post-) Yugoslav generation is: how did we and how do we still react to variously opposing “montages of memories” to which we were and still are exposed?
Somewhere in between those reference points lies the idea for the exhibition transposed in a concrete physical space and concrete historical/political context in which images and words take part in actual knowledge production, on the field of the current battle for the interpretation of the socialist Yugoslav heritage. In a post-communist condition, “the sense of reality“ has been constructed by “reading history backward“. This paradigm, characterised by the act of re-interpreting past events from the perspective of the newly established nation-states, contains a certain degree of manipulation with the past events in order to establish the so-called “national histories”. This exhibition was to be an exercise in destabilizing the expected, in shaking the trust in storytellers, the constructors of the dominant narratives which shape “the (national) imagery”, while, at the same time, posing the question how, by which means, to enter the battle of knowledge production and still propagate the idea of emancipated spectatorship in its broadest sense.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemics, the exhibition was cancelled and the new regime of life came along. Since some of the works were already finished by mid-March and some of them were only in the process of being made, the latter two took “a contextual turn”. One of them started to create new narratives, future-oriented dystopian scenarios “after the total loss of control“, while the other, articulated not only by the pandemics but also the earthquake that followed, posed a simple and immediate question “What will the city look like, after all this?“ (…)
ABOUT THE ART WORKS & AUTHORS
Doplgenger: A RECORD OF LANDSCAPE WITHOUT PREHISTORY
Video│HD Video (16:9) │ 14’ 22″ │ color │ stereo │ 2020
The starting point for the video is a circular building of the former Children’s Maritime Health Resort, one of the dilapidated architectural masterpieces built in the 1960s, designed by architect Rikard Marasović. The building is situated in Krvavica, a small, picturesque village three kilometres west of Makarska, in a small forest next to a pebble beach. Built in times when Croatia was part of the socialist Yugoslavia, it was part of the military infrastructure, but its main purpose was the treatment and recovery of children suffering from respiratory diseases. According to researchers, for some time, the health resort was strictly controlled by the military and inaccessible to the villagers and tourists of Krvavica. It was also hidden and out of the focus of architectural interest. However, more and more stories from the early 1980s have emerged, describing the health resort as a vivid place open to the local community. During the war in Yugoslavia, the building was used for sheltering refugees from war-stricken areas. In the second half of the 1990s, the building was “demilitarized”, but had a similar destiny like numerous other former military facilities; it was left to the local communities, privatization funds and public institutions, which led to its gradual devastation. All this needs to be observed in the light of the so-called “transition“ and rejection of the heritage of Yugoslav socialism.
Building a narrative in an epistolary form, uttered in a female voice, the Doplgenger film opens up a fragment from the life of a woman who spends time at the sea. Through an intimate letter from a vacation, the story unfolds in an indefinite time frame. Autumn days on the beach are intertwined with ominousness and a hidden tension. Time breaks down as the story unfolds, its determinants change with the instability of the words which describe it. The film dissolves the (linearity of) time, but also of meaning, destroying the structure of spoken language, as well as the very materiality of the film.
Doplgenger is an artist duo from Belgrade, comprising Isidora Ilić and Boško Prostran. Doplgenger engages as a film/video artist, researcher, writer, and curator. The work of Doplgenger deals with the relation between art and politics by exploring the regimes of moving images and the modes of their reception. They rely on the tradition of experimental film and video, and through some of the actions of these traditions intervene on existing media products or work in expanded cinema forms. Their work has been shown internationally. Doplgenger is a recipient of the Serbian Politika Award, has been supported internationally, and has been granted with various AIR programs. They have participated in symposia, organized educational projects and workshops, presented lectures, and screened curated programs worldwide. In 2017, Ilić and Prostran coedited the publication Amateurs for Film. Since 2018, Doplgenger has served as a curator and selector for the Alternative Film/Video Festival in Belgrade.
Vlado Danailov/ Mila Dimitrovska: HYBRID LANDSCAPE. 100 PATHWAYS
C-prints│ video│ herbarium│2020
‘…nature has always existed and has always already been there’ (Bruno LaTour, ‘We have never been modern’)
The borders once established have been crossed. The decay of culture has given space for the return of nature and complete control has been lost. The project is inspired by the spontaneous landscape in and around Motel Trogir, a condition that shines a light towards a new possible place-making approach. We venture into a paradox exciting to explore — to preserve a modernist legacy by moving the human away from the center of the story.
We imagine a fictional storyboard that stretches forward and backward, through time in space.
We start at a moment in the lifetime of a building, a second ago, the last ice age, now and the history yet to come. The scale is a motel room, the Earth, Trogir’s landscape and the Universe. We explore a visual and written narrative on the aesthetics and ethics: the decay is not necessarily ugly and the unbuilt is not genuinely empty.
Ivan Vitić’s building is not a form following function anymore, yet it maintains an inherent placemaking value in its relation to the sea and the natural environment. In these conditions, we ask ourselves: what kind of hybrid landscape can encompass both humans and non-humans in a new symbiosis? How do we move beyond our own anthropocentric world, to include all other species to whom the land belongs?
Vlado Danailov is an architect and researcher. Vlado interests in theater, art and literature. After obtaining his Master degree from the Faculty of Architecture, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje in 2013, Vlado was enrolled as a researcher at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow (2013/2014). Together with Mila Dimitrovska he founded and edited ARHI.TEK / АРХИ.ТЕК, free monthly pamphlet publication at AFS Faculty of Architecture Skopje, opening a space for critical reflection on different topics concerning architectural profession and the wider cultural context that concern our time and space. Hybrid Landscape. 100 pathways is another step of their collaboration. https://milaamski.com/2020/05/13/hybrid-landscape/
Tilmann Meyer- Faje: DECAY OF THE FUTURE
In his work Tilmann Meyer Faje focuses on the failure of the industrial processes. With his ceramic artworks he replicates contemporary constructions from our highly developed civilization and anticipates their decay. He builds structures which tumble down for their own weight and is doing experiments on how he can freeze the moment of collapse in ceramic sculptures. Faults in the production, like scratches due to dirty tools, or cracks caused by fast drying, become a prominent part in his pieces.
In Tilmann Meyer-Faje’s work, the focus is on the failure of utopian urban dreams. In addition to his interventions in Dutch cities, he also dealt with the urbanization of the Soviet Union, and this is his first work related to the modernist heritage of Yugoslavia. The model of the Trogir motel made of clay was subjected to subtle but definite dis-aggregation and thus slowly disappearing in public, in front of the eyes of passers-by. The work was set up in Fortin Park, located in the immediate vicinity of the Trogir motel, which since 2013 has the status of a permanently protected cultural property of the Republic of Croatia, however, it is still in decay.
Tilmann Meyer Faje is a Dutch/German artist who works and lives in Amsterdam, where he graduated in 2000 from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and in 2004 from the Sandberg Institute.
Marko Tadić: UNTITLED
Drawings of futuristic buildings blown up into fluo-neon installations combined with short stop frame animated clips present and interpret the phenomenon of the emergence of immense, complex and chaotic cities. The work is trying to imagine a futuristic settlement pattern. How will a city look like after all this? Imagining all human settlements as living organisms capable of evolution, an evolution that might be guided using (ekistics’) knowledge. Background and influence for this work derives from artist’s ongoing research into utopian architecture, it’s philosophy and concepts. Conceptually this work explores and visualizes a worldwide city in the line of works like „Monumento continuo“ by Superstudio or „The Walking City“ by Archigram. It visually explores the ways in which our habitats could be expanding in a more efficient way.
Marko Tadić studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence. His artistic practice is in drawing, installation and animation. Winner of numerous art prizes, his works have been exhibited on many solo and group exhibitions around the world. In 2017 along with Tina Gverović he was representing Croatia at the 57th Venice Biennale.
 Harun Farocki
 “Minister of Fear”, article by John Wray, September 23rd, 2007 https://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/magazine/23haneke-t.html
 “Images of Past as Images for the Future”, text by Isidora Ilić and Boško Prostran in Modelling public space(s) in culture, Lokomotiva, Skopje, 2018
 The Zagreb earthquake of 5.5 degrees happened on March 22nd 2020, early in the morning.
The exhibition and the CDCM project are supported by: