Still on view this weekend in Belgrade is a poignant video installation by one of the most respected performance artists in the region, Dragana Zarevac. Born in Belgrade in 1959, a graduate from the university here, exiled to Paris during the civil war, where she has been a member of the Maison des Artistes since 1992, Zarevac has been the subject of many exhibitions and the recipient of numerous awards. In her own words, she uses performance and video to explore ‘how political and social life affect sexuality’. Early projects like Perfect Marriage (2001) showed the artist standing, wailing while her husband vacuumed an apartment. Ephemeral Memorial (2008) dealt with the body in concentration camps and she was the author of one of the best videos (at least in my opinion!) at the October Salon called Resist: Disappearing Happiness – 12 simultaneous video clips of people dancing or listening to Pharell Williams’ song, Happy. In a totally different register, this installation explores a personal response to her degenerative motor neurone disease. Organised into three parts, it consists of a 3.20 min video (Tango Valido) showing Zarevac in a vivid red dress dancing the tango with her female instructor (‘the dance that combines a passion for life with a feeling of dismay’) to the haunting tango music, and this version recorded in 1944. On the right, are 3 glass shelves with the 270 empty bottles of the drug Mestinon, that slows down the advance of the disease. Behind, is a second video called Peace (2 minutes) where we watch a tear trickle down the side of her face, seen in profile, death-like in its silence. This installation was created for the Sales Gallery and was curated by Jelena Krivokapić. Showing until 22 December at Kosančićev venac 19, Belgrade. For more information see www.galerijabeograd.org
An exhibition connecting Serbia to the American south via the art of Jon Langford. These are prints made from photos and words that feed on country music associations mixed with flat colours and decorative borders. They are mounted on plywood and varnished and stressed to give the image a well-worn look that effectively captures the folksy mood. Langford lives in Chicago but was born in the UK and the roots of this art reach back to the 1960s, and his interests in radical politics, counter-cultures and punk music. He was a founding member of The Mekons and with them was associated with the department of Fine Art at Leeds University. Politics and punk combine with another long-standing interest – popular american vernaculars – country and western music and their melancolic thematizations of the ordinary lives of men and women. This all comes together in the prints. His art dealers are located in Austin, Texas and every year they organise an exhibition to coincide with the South by South West Festival. His latest album (Here be Monsters) was released in 2014 and each song is matched to a painting, available as a postcard or as a set of prints. This exhibition was brought to Belgrade by the Sales Art Gallery. It was curated by Sanja Todosijević. See www.galerijabeograd.org
The novelty here is to make your home into a gallery, organise a grand opening and for eighteen continuous days exhibit the work of ten serbian artists. The formula is Nathalie Boscq’s and this is her third version in Belgrade. Paintings, drawings, photographs and prints are on view everywhere and the informality of the setting, with prints, paintings, photographs and drawings propped up on shelves, or hung from walls or columns, framed or unframed, within the clutter of a busy household works well. She has lots of open space and the party atmosphere of the opening makes the exhibition look more like an art fair, encouraging people to buy when they might not from a gallery. As Santa Claus and everyone else is broke this year, all the art on display was priced at 250 euros or less. Some artists did exceptionally well in terms of sales. The ten selected to exhibit were: Leka Mladenovic, Borko Petrovic, Ivan Jovanovic, Mina Sarenac, Vladimir Milanovic, Maja Djorjevic, Sladjana Stankovic, Tamara Miodragovic, Natasa Krstic and Nemanja Maras. Curated by Nathalie Boscq and Adeline Royer. Opened 5th December, closed 17th December, Kursumlijska 14. For more information: www.nanaopi.com
A striking exhibition exploring Tito’s permanent and obsessive fascination with film is currently on in Belgrade, night-times only and in conjunction with a film festival where you can re-visit some of his famous movies. All of this has been organised in the fitting location of what is now the Museum of Yugoslav history, built as one part of a vast complex for memorialising Tito himself who lies buried on site. The exhibition is simple in conception (film, photos, and Tito related paraphernalia) but very effective in execution. You can see the notebooks that were used to record the daily cinema showings (often several a day) indicating the date and time shown, title of film, origin, language and presidential reaction. Good use is made of the blown-up photographs of Tito at festivals, or cinema parties alongside Hollywood film stars and European Royals. And then there are the films themselves: those that were publically viewed or privately screened, the favourites (American westerns and Hitchcocks) or the films that furnished him with a sense of history, and that were watched on the way to meeting a foreign dignitary (for example, ‘The Battle of Britain’ in preparation for a meeting with Churchill in London in the early fifties). The exhibition leads us through these different cinematographic journeys. Quotations printed on the walls on the uses and meaning of film provide the necessary, ironic subtext for a President who may have banned the distribution of capitalist cinema culture, and who claimed to only watch films of Lenin, but who sat down nevertheless to enjoy Hair. Curated and designed by Dragana Marković, Marija Djorgović, Momo Cvijovic and Mane Radmanovic. Until 18th December 2014, Every evening, 6 Botićeva, Belgrade.
Predrag Popara is a Bosnian-born, Belgrade-trained painter who is a founding member of Funnel, a platform for generating trans-national connections between geographically dispersed contemporary artists. His works are large & impressive, dense or fluid, abstract & monochrome. Other Funnel members include Roberto Coda Zabetta who works between Milan & London; Giancarlo Ceraudo in Buenos Aires; Kenneth Blom in Denmark; Bogdan Vladuta in Bucharest, Alessio Maximiliam Schroder in Vienna, Vuk Vuckovic in Belgrade and Mate Djordjevic in Paris. All eight live and work mostly in European centres but each artist exhibits to and is collected by a broader international circuit of public and private patrons. Occasionally they organise joint exhibitions. The current one ‘Transformations’ recently left Serbia for Romania. The works explore the ways in which mass-media exploits and normalizes violence and aggression, how it stimulates creation, institutes a desire for the positive – progress but also for the negative – self-destruction. The exhibit opens today in two locations in Bucharest: at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Alexandru 41 and Funnel Contemporary Artspace, Calea Victoriei 87-89. Until 9th January 2015. See http://www.funnelcontemporary.eu
A recent exhibition in Novi Sad put professors from the Academy of Fine Arts into creative dialogue with some of the works in an important private collection of twentieth-century art that is housed in a purpose-built gallery. Organised by Jelena Sredanović, the result is a dialogue between present and past, painting and drawing or drawing, tapestry and sculpture. The originals and the works they inspired are shown together and the resulting connections vary on a scale between total transformation, purloined fragment or simple, subtle variation. This small exhibition (7 new to 6 originals) was situated in a museum that is otherwise well-worth seeing for the permanent collection which was gifted to the serbian people by its collector – a diplomat – in 1957. The museum is unrivalled because unlike the ex-yugoslavian national collections in Belgrade which are permanently closed, this one is permanently open. Furthermore, much of the collection is actually on display, lovingly and meaningfully valorized by its curator, Jasmina Jakšić. For information on current exhibitions see http://www.pavle-beljanski.museum Trg galerija 2, Novi Sad. Open Wednesday to Sunday 11-18; Thursdays 13-21. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
The annual show of contemporary art this year curated by two Austrians around the theme of disappearing things which for many artists means nature or memory. It takes place in the stunning spaces of an empty building, just behind the old bombed out army headquarters that is still standing in all its shocking, crumbling majesty. On display is a mixture of video, photography, painting and installation by artists working across the world, although the many slavic sounding names suggest that they represent something of an artistic diaspora. The videos are the most successful in exploring a whole range of disappearing themes: like loss, or happiness or forgetting or remembering, or story telling. There are fuzzy Richter like paintings by an Albanian artist, narrated stories separated from their visual halves so that we have to remember what we heard and relate it back to what we see. Maybe most absorbing of all among the exhibits dealing with the past is the vast wall of seeing something that clearly has disappeared – the crowds who gathered to listen to Milosevic: the camera moves slowly as the words flicker silently on the screen, the speaker is absent, the listeners are present Four long minutes that offer a good demonstration of art’s ability to deal with difficult and otherwise invisible themes.Belgrade City Museum, Reavska Street 40b, Belgrade Until 2nd November 2014
An exhibition of photographs, drawings and paintings produced during 1914-15 when Serbia was at war. The photos tell a sombre story that starts with the farms and new recruits. We follow them to the Thessaloniki front, watch them die or retreat through frozen Albania to the ships that evacuated them to Cyprus. A selection of paintings then retrace the same journeys, the same places, the same battles but in colour and as landscape or large battle portraits. There are framed sketches made by artists who were also soldiers and alongside these bits and pieces of memorabilia. The title of the exhibition is taken from the diary of Milan Vakaljac, a serbian officer and volunteer. Until December 2014 at the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Knez Mihailova 35. Daily 10-10pm, Thursdays 10-4pm
Forty kitsch and crazy gouache paintings by Sigmar Polke (1941-2010) are currently on display in Dedinje in one of the more elegant outposts of the currently (but permanently) closed Museum of Contemporary Art. Polke was a key figure in European pop art and one of the most important German artists post 1945. These works – dripped, painted, printed and weird – were produced in collaboration with the German Institute of Foreign Cultural Relations in 1996. The exhibition has been co-organised with the IFA in Stuttgart and the Goethe Institute in Belgrade. The paintings use blown up fragments of an advertisement, a photograph or an illustration and combine them with fluorescent colour and witty, ironic and often incomprehensible titles. Everyday except Tuesdays, 12-8pm, until 31st October 2014 at the Gallery-Legacy of Milica Zorić and Rodoljub Colaković, Rodoljuba Colakovića 2, Belgrade http://www.bgdart.rs/en/lokacije/gallery-of-the-legacy-of-milica-zoric-and-rodoljub-colakovic. Polke is currently the subject of a large retrospective, Alibis at Tate Modern, London http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/oct/06/sigmar-polke-alibis-tate-modern-review
A small but exquisitely selected group of prints currently on display at the Austrian Cultural Centre by Bianca Tschaikner, an internationally recognised artist and graphic designer whose travels have taken her to Chile, Italy, Spain and Morocco. The images recount these peregrinations in small formats and via woodcuts, etchings, linocuts and lithographs that share deceptively simple but immensely appealing and playful figurations of her personal itineraries or classical myths. The prints are for sale and prices vary between 2000 and 25000 RSD. Everyday 9-5pm until 18th October 2014, Austrijksi kulturni forum, Kneza Sime Markovica 2, Beograd