”If you want to bang in a nail, you need a hammer, not a definition of one.”
Azbuka. In her usage of azbuka, the Cyrillic alphabet, the artist seemingly ”personalises” an otherwise neutral notion of the alphabet, bringing it closer to the notion of her body, of the genetic material, DNA letter inscription that defines who she is. However, this operation of using the alphabet used by Serbians, one of which was her deceased mother, doesn’t of course bring her any closer to her body because the alphabet is a historical construct and has nothing to do with genetic material. It is not written in her genes, nor is it written in the genes of her mother. It seems that with this gesture the artist brings in an unjustified element of national and nationalistic problematics, blood and soil ideologies, often an obsession of those who have had a part of their lives marked by national conflicts, which then she doesn’t follow on, but drops it as she drops a letter and follows onto another one. On top of this the artist doesn’t even use the original azbuka with Cyrillic letters, but the Latin transcription.
Breast. It is the only part of the body that actually produces something useful, that can be consumed with pleasure by another human being. Unfortunately this other human being usually has no possibility of memorising this act, or rather has no possibility of recalling this act into its conscious memory; so though it exists somewhere in its brain, the path to it is forever lost. Another frustrating lack of memory is the lack of memory of residing in the womb, because this must have been a very pleasant experience indeed. By the way, if you take a closer look, you will see that the artist’s left breast is significantly smaller than her right one, which surely accounts for her focus on this part of human anatomy.
Game of apple trees. A table game which is played by up to four players who have to fill their tree with apples by throwing a dice. The most interesting time of my otherwise rather boring childhood was when I was ill with chickenpox. When the first wind of rash stopped I felt almost healthy, but I still didn’t have to go to the kindergarten, and I was playing the game of apple trees at home with my father over and over again.
Dough. During my adolescence, when I was lying down with mononucleosis or ‘kissing disease’, one of the first punishments for having emotional and sexual desires, I had to eat tasteless non-spicy food, easy for my organism to process, that didn’t put too much pressure on the liver. Dough was naturally an ideal choice and I remember feeling that my body rises like the dough from the bed, while I was stuffing myself with endless variants of yellow white fabric, my white skin looking even more unnatural, losing any muscle structure, turning porous and soft like a freshly made doughnut.
Excrement. Excrement is one way of reaffirming the presence of the body which can otherwise go almost unnoticed. The other way is malfunction, popularly know as illness. See under I. Excrement brings about the awareness of a body as a system, as a machine or a factory with input and output. This has been widely abused in philosophy and performing arts practice and theory.
Žeđ. I can’t do žeđ (thirst) right now. I’m not thirsty, and anyway, I have to wait for the letter Č for čaša (glass).
Zeko i potočić (Bunny and the Brook).
U jednoj zimskoj noći
tam gdje je visok brijeg
smrznuo se potočić i pokrio ga snijeg.
A jedan mali zeko taj potok
gdje je kud je nestao to njemu tišti grud.
I plače, plače zeko mal,
za potočićem tim
i žali žali zeko sad
žali srcem svim
i tužan misli zeko
da gdje je potok taj,
možda laste slijedi on
u dalek južni kraj.
a onda dodje ljeto
i snijeg se otopi
vratio se potočić
i zeko sretan bi.
One winter’s night
Where the mountain is high
A brook froze and was covered by snow.
And one little bunny
Looked everywhere to find it,
Where did it go, it troubled him so.
And he cried and cried, poor little thing,
And he felt sorrow with all his heart
And he wondered where the brook went,
Maybe it followed the birds to the
Faraway southern lands
And then the summer came
And the snow melted down,
The brook came back
And made bunny happy.
Illness. It is another way of bringing presence of the body to consciousness. Unless our job or affinities don’t allow us to, it is normal to forget the existence of the body. Ilness or injury, whose mark is often a point in which consciousness, mind, visits an ill or an injured place, forcing mind and body to connect, or mind to be embodied.
Lightness. My work displays a certain lightness, not commensurable with the fabric of true art works. It seems that I don’t take my work seriously, and make only a small effort. Most annoying is the fact that I don’t follow any rule I set to the end, not even the rule to write in the first person when it comes to the artwork and my own personal memories in relation to the body, and in the third person when I’m dealing with the criticism of the artwork, making it difficult for the audience to understand the various levels I’m allegedly dealing with.
Missing letters. The artist didn’t even try to follow the azbuka principle she started with, and some of the letters are not attached to any notions. The choice of letters without attached notion seems to be entirely arbitrary or, at least, its internal logic seems to be impenetrable. However, even more annoying is the fact that comments on the artwork bear no relation to the actual idea of the work. And the artist is not even answering the following question: Why is she commenting on her own artwork in the art work?
Oklop. Shield. Because of the scoliosis of the back, I was forced to wear a shield, made out of red plastic and iron sticks, in my sleep. The shield looked more like a medieval torturing device.
Problem. The main problem of this piece is that it uses an already existing well known system such as the alphabet as a mechanism for producing art work, instead of creating an original system of its own. It is a known fact, and appears often in the writing of Common Sense, that art cannot operate on arbitrary and unoriginal mechanisms but indeed needs a more pressuring logic, a logic that promotes the idea that it “cannot be otherwise”. Another problem is that the artist doesn’t then use this logic in the essence of what she makes her artwork to be about, but the alphabetical, or rather azbukical order remains on the outskirts of her work, never to be made an essential part of it. It seems that using azbuka enables artist to get involved with some ideas that she is interested in, but it doesn’t enable her to produce a link between these ideas, and they remain forever closed in their own world, abandoned the moment she abandons one letter to go onto the next one.
Red and pink. They told her when she was a child that red and pink didn’t match well. So she was put off from wearing her best shirt that happened to be red and her best trousers that happened to be pink together, and as a consequence she was never perfectly dressed. She could only be almost perfectly dressed, with only one piece of her outfit the best. She used to wonder: How do they know? How can you know that red and pink don’t go together? Or that they do?
Spots. Another product of the body. Socially not desirable at all. They do display a certain beauty, or rather the idea of them might. They are like boiling of the body, like body volcanoes, sensitive places where soft insides come out, fight their way onto the surface. However, they don’t have the force of the volcano to erupt and release their content, but they can either be squeezed out or let to dry peacefully.
Tram ticket. It is one of the rare objects that, in a way similar to Proust’s madeleine, almost by default brings in memories of pain and humiliation. I don’t remember painful events, because of a not-so-rare gift called ‘optimism of memory’. However I do remember a rather insignificant event in my body’s medical history when I broke my elbow jumping out of a tram, trying to escape the tram ticket controller. The lack of a tram ticket and my lack of courage to confront the embarrassment of being caught not having one, resulted in a break of a part of my body that I still feel to this day, 14 years later, as well as not being able to fully stretch my right arm. This incident forced me to abandon my dreams of becoming a dancer and pushed me towards a much less admired profession, that of a dance critic. Strangely enough, this has not taught me to start buying tickets on the tram, but made me even more stubborn in relation to this subject. The history of discussions with tram ticket controllers is indeed a long one, as is my span of possible responses and excuses, ways of trying to get away without paying a fine. This has become one of the best psychology exercises, teaching me to recognise, at first sight, which approach will let me of the hook with which type of controller – whether it is playing the social card “I have just been fired and have no income”; or an honesty card “Here is the money”; or being stupid “I forgot my ID at home”; or rudeness “Tram drivers are paid as much as university professors and this is my personal protest against this unfair policy.” The last approach, however, almost never works, and should be abandoned immediately because it automatically results in paying an additional ticket. It did work once though, with a guy who accidentally happened to be a university professor who lost his job during the war and was working as a controller unable to find a job that would be more appropriate for his educational level.
Falseness of memory. The children poem Bunny and the Brook was my worst childhood nightmare memory. I was always wondering what kind of a sadistic freak could think of writing such a poem as a lullaby. Yesterday, I looked up the lyrics on the net and to my surprise realized that the Bunny found his brook when the spring came and everything was peachy creamy. In my memory, the bloody rabbit DIED. FROZEN TO DEATH. It would have saved me a brook of tears had I known this before. This makes me wonder what else that caused me unbelievable pain was just a product of my slipped memory.
Hair. Extremely culturally coded part of human body. By having hair in the right places and not having it in the wrong places you affirm that you belong to a certain community. The appropriate places to have hair in Western society differ in males and females. It is culturally more acceptable, even desirable, for males to have hair wherever they want or wherever it grows, even where it doesn’t. Both sexes should have hair on their head. Lack of hair on the head, more common in males, often creates frustration and sometimes results in a strange habit of covering the bald area with long hair grown on another area of the head. This causes embarrassing situations if the wind is strong. It is not socially desirable for women to have hair on their legs, under their armpits, around their nipples, not even around their underwear. It is absolutely not socially desirable for a woman to have hairs above the upper lip. Despite its huge significance for social cohesion, a really effective and long lasting way of removing hair from inappropriate places has still not been found.
Critic. In her recollection of the memory of a broken elbow, which was intended to secure her some sympathy from the audience, the artist reinforces a problematic stereotype of a dance critic who is in fact an unaccomplished dancer and who only “criticises instead of actually producing”. Also, some of the letters she uses and attached notions show absolutely no relation either to the idea of memory, or to the idea of body, and show the artist’s perverse pleasure in using circular systems, explanations of explanations, that only multiply possible meanings but in fact do not produce anything.
performed in Girona, 2006.