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

Galerija Artget, Belgrade
Saturday, August 10th
10:00 – 18:00


History is a strange discipline. In today's world of rapid communication and information overload, it seems almost trivial and harmless. For most people, events from the past are always slightly removed 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 strives to control historical discourses as they are an integral part of the national and cultural identity of a certain group. Therefore, history is always surveilled from above. The victor in a conflict tries to control history to be remembered as the winner, and in this process, manipulation of contexts often occurs. This is probably the reason why the boundary between history and mythology is so unclear and undefined today.

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 occurs in every regime and every zeitgeist; newly formed states seek to create their own historical narratives that are often linked to conflicts, struggle, and sacrifice; the contemporary woke movement calls for a reexamination of traditional historical canons and advocates for a revision of history based on today's ethical standards; 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 businesses in turbulent events of the past.

Impartial, 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, Daria Petković, Neja Tomšič, and Vladimir Živojinović, each in their own characteristic way, explore historical narratives, but always differently and far from widely accepted interpretations. They also often deal with hidden episodes of great historical narratives, always observing them from a critical distance. They question different 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, Daria Petković examines methods of constituting memory. Using photographs, found objects, archival material, and texts, she analyzes selected historical events that are 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 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. The exhibition features three elements of this series; one of them is the work Uvala Slana (2018), which depicts the location of the first concentration camp of the Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945), whose silhouette is featured on the currency of 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 narrative performance, artist's books, appropriated photographs, and texts, to gather 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 countries in East Asia were forced to enter the global free market, thereby relinquishing significant portions of their sovereignty. The work reveals the legacy of the opium wars today, as some of the largest banks, insurance companies, investment firms, and transport 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 events around the breakthrough of the Macedonian 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 portrays events that are ubiquitous in literature today in a different light. To counteract any kind of simplified 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