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

Galerija Artget, Belgrade
Thursday, August 1st
10:00 – 18:00


History is a strange 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 mildly distant from reality and do not have the same impact after years, decades, or centuries have passed. On the other hand, it is clear that every ruling regime seeks to control historical discourses because they are an integral part of the national and cultural identity of a particular group. Hence, history is always overseen from above. The victor in a conflict seeks to control history to be remembered as the winner, and in that process, manipulation of contexts often occurs. This is probably why today the boundary between history and mythology is so blurred and undefined.

Therefore, history is never completely 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 occurs in every regime and every zeitgeist; newly formed states strive to create their own historical narratives that are often linked to conflicts, struggles, and sacrifices; the contemporary woke movement calls for reassessing traditional historical canons and advocates for revising history based on today's ethical standards; increasingly powerful corporations, which now control the majority of media and online communication platforms, create their own history based on their short-term interests, hiding the role of big business in turbulent events from the past.

Unbiased, objective, and nonlinear 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 major historical narratives, always viewing them from a critical distance. They question different representations of history and its role in shaping the political and public discourses of the present, dealing with specific episodes of local and global history (which are inevitably interconnected). Although their practices are completely different, all three combine image and text to further contextualize the content.

In his series Damnatio memoriae, 2017-2024, Darija Petković deals with ways of constituting memory. Using photographs, found objects, archival material, and texts, he analyzes selected historical events that have been inscribed in collective memory through public and media discourses. The work follows and comments on the consequences of social, ideological, and economic transitions in Croatia and the wider region, characterized by the rejection of egalitarian social values and historical revisionism. The central point of the series is symbolic locations that have marked the recent history of Croatia. Three elements of this series are exhibited; one of them is the work Uvala Slana (2018), depicting the location of the first concentration camp of the Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945), whose silhouette appears on the currency 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 multi-layered approaches, such as storytelling performance, artist's book, appropriated photographs, and texts, to gather 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, thereby relinquishing a significant part of their sovereignty. The work reveals the legacy of opium wars today, as some of the largest banks, insurance companies, investment and transportation companies built their power on opium trade.

In the series Danube Division, 2022-2024, Vladimir Živojinović reflects on historical events from a very personal perspective. He focuses on the events surrounding 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. A series of photographs, combined with explanations in texts, offers a micro-historical perspective and presents events that are ubiquitous in literature today from a different angle. To counteract any form of oversimplified narrative, Živojinović applies various approaches, such as landscape photographs with context, portraits, family archives, creating a personal topography that demonstrates the interconnectedness of 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