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

Galerija Artget, Belgrade
Monday, July 22nd
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 always remain slightly 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 as they are an integral part of the national and cultural identity of a specific group. Therefore, history is always supervised from above. The winner in a conflict strives to control history to be remembered as the victor, and in this process, contextual manipulation often occurs. This is probably why the boundary between history and mythology is so unclear and undefined today.

Thus, history is never entirely static and definitive. On the contrary, it is quite dynamic and changeable. The current situation can easily transform the perception of the past. Historical revisionism emerges in every regime and every zeitgeist; newly formed states aim to create their own historical narratives often linked to conflicts, struggle, and sacrifice; the contemporary woke movement calls for a re-evaluation of traditional historical canons and advocates for a revision of history based on today's ethical standards; the increasingly powerful corporations, now owning 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 of the past.

Impartial, 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 'On 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 delve into hidden episodes of major historical narratives, always examining them from a critical distance. They challenge various representations of history and its role in shaping 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 her work 'Damnatio Memoriae,' 2017-2024, Darija Petković deals with the 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. The exhibition showcases three elements of this series; one of them is the work 'Uvala Slana' (2018), depicting the site of the first concentration camp of the Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945), whose silhouette appears on the banknote 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 performance storytelling, artist books, appropriated photographs, and texts, to collect and tell stories that consider 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 Eastern Asian countries were forced to enter the global free market, thereby relinquishing a significant portion of their sovereignty. The work reveals the legacy of the opium wars today, as some of the largest banks, insurance companies, investment and transport companies have 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 the First World War, 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 from a different angle. To counteract any kind of simplified narrative, Živojinović applies various approaches, such as landscape photographs with context, portraits, family archives, and creates a personal topography that shows 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