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Exhibition About History ▪︎ Darija Petković, Neja Tomšič and Vladimir Živojinović

Galerija Artget, Belgrade
Friday, August 9th
10:00 – 18:00


History is a peculiar science. In today's world of fast communication and information overload, it seems almost trivial and harmless. For most people, events from the past are always gently removed from reality and lose their impact after years, decades, or centuries have passed. On the other hand, it is clear that every ruling regime seeks to control historical discourses as they are an integral part of the national and cultural identity of a particular group. Thus, history is always overseen from above. The victor in a conflict strives to control history to be remembered as the winner, and in this process, there is often manipulation of contexts. This is probably why today the boundary between history and mythology is so unclear and indistinct.

Therefore, history is never entirely static and defined. On the contrary, it is quite dynamic and changeable. The current situation can easily transform the perception of the past. Historical revisionism appears in every regime and every zeitgeist; newly formed states strive to create their own historical narratives that are often linked to conflicts, struggle, and sacrifice; the contemporary woke movement calls for a reevaluation of traditional historical canons and advocates for a revision of history based on today's ethical standards; increasingly powerful corporations, which now own most media and online communication platforms, create their own history based on their short-term interests, hiding the role of big business in turbulent events of the past.

Unbiased, objective, and non-linear historiography can reveal a series of paradoxes that seriously undermine established and idealized heroic narratives. The three artists in the exhibition titled About History, Darija Petković, Neja Tomšič and Vladimir Živojinović, each in their distinctive way, explore historical narratives, but always differently and far from widely accepted interpretations. They also often deal with hidden episodes of grand historical narratives, always observing them from a critical distance. They question various representations of history and its role in shaping political and public discourses of the present, addressing specific episodes of local and global history (which are inevitably interconnected). Although their practices are entirely different, all three combine image and text to further contextualize the content.

In her work Damnatio memoriae, 2017-2024, Darija Petković explores ways of constituting memory. Using photographs, found objects, archival material, and texts, she analyzes selected historical events inscribed in collective memory through public and media discourses. The work follows and comments on the consequences of social, ideological, and economic transition in Croatia and the broader region, characterized by the rejection of egalitarian social values and historical revisionism. The central point of the series are symbolic locations that have marked the recent history of Croatia. Three elements of this series are presented at the exhibition; one of them is the work Uvala Slana (2018), which depicts the location of the first concentration camp of the NDH (1941-1945), the silhouette of which appears on the money from that time.

In her interdisciplinary artistic practice, Neja Tomšič often explores suppressed and neglected episodes from history. In the work Opium Clippers, 2015-2024, she uses multilayered approaches, such as performance storytelling, artist's book, appropriated photographs, and texts, to collect and tell stories that examine the legacy of colonialism, hidden and ignored in official historiography, offering answers to numerous complex questions related to current geopolitical relations. Opium Clippers deals with the period when countries of East Asia were forced to enter the global free market, relinquishing a significant part of their sovereignty. The work reveals the legacy of the opium wars today, as some of the largest banks, insurance companies, investment, and transportation companies have built their power on opium trade.

Vladimir Živojinović, in the series Danube Division, 2022-2024, reflects on historical events from a very personal perspective. He focuses on the events around the breakthrough of the Salonika Front at the end of World War I, in which his great-grandfather participated, resulting in the liberation of Serbia in 1918. The series of photographs, combined with explanations in texts, offers a microhistorical perspective and presents events that are ubiquitous in literature today in a different light. To counter any kind of simplified narrative, Živojinović applies various approaches, such as landscape photographs with context, portraits, family archives, creating a personal topography that shows the interconnection between official and personal history.

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* If you do not find the contacts of the organizers in the event description, then you can buy entrance tickets at the entrance