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April 5th - April 29th  2024

Exhibiton opening and artist talk: Friday, April 5th, 19h

The series of photographs entitled "Eighties" is dedicated to the problem of identity and the ways in which it is expressed over time in different political formations. The series of photographs was created between 1983 and 1985 in Block 45 in New Belgrade, the so-called "Sun Village", which was realized as a utopian, biopolitical project carried out at the time of the decline of Yugoslav socialism. That project can be considered utopian today, and it was defined by the scene of the young generation represented in these photos. At that time, conditions were created for a generation to grow up, which from today's perspective seems highly privileged. On one level, we can view these photos as a document of the growing up of one of the last carefree generations of the SFRY, especially in the light of the coming nineties.

Interview with the artist (excerpt)

Tena Starčević and Sandra Križić Roban


Tena Starčević: You have been involved in photography since elementary school, and thanks to your father, you encountered the technical and technological aspects of the photographic medium very early on. To begin with, I'm wondering if you could describe your first encounters with photography?


Srđan Veljović: I grew up in an environment where photography was very present. Actually, the eighties implied some technical and technological prerequisites, because photography was not as handy as it is today. My father was an architect, but he did a lot of photography, so I also had the experience of developing photos in the laboratory. We always had film rolls in the closet and all of that was within reach, but I think it's interesting that I really decided at one point to start doing photography. So it was a matter of decision. I kind of started the practice and probably liked it, so it just keeps rolling.

TS: In that period, your first photographic series of the Eighties was created, documenting the construction of one of the last urban and architectural projects in Belgrade. The series of photographs was created between 1983 and 1985 in Block 45 in New Belgrade, the so-called "Sun Village", which was realized as a utopian, bio-political project carried out at the time of the decline of Yugoslav socialism. Is it a photographic series that was created as a result of a clear concept, or is it a very spontaneous act of photography?

SV: By coincidence, these photos are really a document of the time of my beginnings. I say a combination of circumstances, because those motives were some of my immediate surroundings, since during that period I lived in Novi Beograd Block 45. I "only" photographed my company and this need arose quite naturally. However, it was only much later that I realized that I consciously decided to step out of the domain of the intimate with photography and to get involved in the circulation of images that started with the appearance of the press and some magazines that were important to me. I have to say that for a long time I was not at all attracted to the idea of exhibiting photos, but the very act of taking photos has always been a conscious decision. The work was certainly intuitive, and I used the camera to record and respond to some immediate stimuli from the environment. I think even photography served as a means of communication for me, maybe I wasn't aware of it at the time. It's really somewhat paradoxical that I only formulated the Eighties project in 2017. I look at it as a project from the archive, which is mine due to circumstances. It is so far from me now, it was taken by that certain man in the 1980s, and the fate of the pictures is such that we look at them in a different way today.

Sandra Križić Roban: What you just mentioned is very interesting - that time lapse and actually observing yourself, that is, your own archive, which somehow stems from the practice of self-archiving. In order for a person to be able to observe himself at all, he must first be archived in some way. I find it intriguing that you describe yourself as a conceptual documentarian. I don't know if at the time when you were filming, in the mid-1980s, you saw yourself as a conceptual documentarian, but I'm interested in what of that conceptual trend could have captured you at that time? You were very young then, but then again, some things or even maybe the general spirit of the new photography may have reached you?

SV: Now I have to clarify some things. So, of course, at that time I didn't even consider myself a photographer, let alone a conceptual documentarian. Actually, I was a boy who got a new toy and started playing with it. Conceptual documentary filmmaker is a designation that came about much later, and that's what my colleague and friend Milan Rakita actually called me. I took it on because I liked how the name referred to my subsequent work with the archive where the documentary is not delivered as a raw product. I take into account the time gap due to which the narrative from the archive and from that other time is presented in the present moment, while also including the time context through which we read the photographs. In the mid-1980s, I did not think about any concepts, but I often looked through the foreign and domestic press. I regularly looked at Stern and Start magazines, and let's just say they were sources of inspiration. In addition, in the second half of the 1980s, there was an exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe in Belgrade, and it really encouraged me to think about photography, but also moved me away from the aesthetics of photo clubs with which I had some kind of experience. I must point out that I moved away from that aesthetic very quickly, but it still took some time to actually understand what I wanted to achieve with photography. So, in that sense, it doesn't even matter how and when the photographic material was created, but it is more important that you know how to present it in the time in which you decide to present it. Interventions on the photographic series from the archive and reception are more important to me than the actual production of photographs.

SKR: Does this mean that with the passage of time, the emotional current, which is certainly evident in the way the Eighties series was filmed, was experienced in a different way? Do you show absolutely all the photos from that series or did you make some revisions? What is your view today compared to when they were recorded in the mid-1980s?

SV: Of course these views are terribly different. Photography has this characteristic of infinitude, which refers to the fact that over time, the photographic image itself means completely different things. If we exclude the audience, for me as the author that photographic series becomes a very personal archive and it's simple - I'm changing, I'm getting older, and therefore the perspective from which I look at photos taken long ago also changes. I thought for a long time whether I should even revive that Eighties project, because I wanted to be sure that I would avoid a kind of sentimentality that I think would be good to avoid in author's projects. I think it's actually about that comparison - how I looked at those photos then and how I look at them today. And it is completely incomparable. At that time, photography was a toy to me and most of the time I made them just to share them with the friends who were featured in them. In this sense, the circulation of the photos took place in a very closed circle of actors, but that aspect is certainly interesting. Over time, almost every archive, or every piece of it, offers different possibilities for interpretation and reinterpretation. With the passage of time, the potential value and the number of references that you can subsequently load increase. I really often do projects from the archive, because it takes me a long time to figure out what I want to do with the recorded material. In the case of the Eighties photo series, the time gap is really extreme, because the photos were taken in my teenage phase, and today I am fifty-odd years old, so my position is completely different.



Srđan Veljović (1968) is a photographer, cultural worker, conceptual documentarian. He deals with the problem of identity and its establishment as a field constituted by the outside, exploring places of transgression of the border that defines it. His work was exhibited collectively and independently in Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Romania, Albania, Austria, Germany, United States of America.



The exhibition is part of the program "Synergies" that the Platform "Culture Hub Croatia" is implementing in 2024 as part of the creative hub Prostor. The program is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia. The work of the Platform "Culture Hub Croatia" is supported by the National Foundation for the Development of Civil Society and Kultura nova Foundation.

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