The Aftermath / Changing Cultural Landscape international project is the first regional research and curatorial platform established in order to identify and articulate principal tendencies within the field of contemporary photography in relation to its immediate environment. With the participation of partner organisations from throughout the former Yugoslavia, the project represents an extensive investigation of the effect of large-scale social shifts on the image of the physical and mental environment, and thereby, also on the expression of a number of artists who work in the field of fine art photography.
The Photonic Moments 2012 festival will put on display an extensive group exhibition, which will gather in a single place the principal protagonists from the field of engaged contemporary photography active in the territory of the former Yugoslavia following its disintegration (1991-2011).
In the presentation form of the exhibition, the extensive interdisciplinary curatorial research is focused on the artistic reflection of the social changes that to such a fatal degree marked the entire territory of the former Yugoslavia. Thus, Aftermath represents a metaphor for the consequences of turbulent events and their mark on the physical environment and on social everyday life. Through their creative efforts, the participating artists address various effects of transition processes that unconditionally and brutally changed the life of the individual, be it the bloody wars in the 1990s and their indirect and direct consequences, radical economic changes that had a significant impact on the general climate, or directly related new social values. In order to efficiently express various critical views on the current (and past) state of mind, the artists, according to their own values, address the quotidian reality and adapt it to their original artistic tendencies.
AFTERMATH / CHANGING CULTURAL LANDSCAPE
Tendencies of Engaged Post-Yugoslavian Contemporary Photography
Due to its temporal span, Aftermath provides an interesting confrontation of artistic reflections and expressions of various generations that either experienced the period before the disintegration of the common state or originate from a completely new social context. A 20-year period is short enough to preserve historical memory; thus, with most artists, the new situation is always somewhat juxtaposed with the memory of the recent past. The main starting point of the exhibited works is therefore the relation between the old and the new, the recording of the gradual changes within an individual place and time and the effect of ideologies on the broader social and physical environment. The conceptually designed visual narratives outgrow the principles of reporting documentaries and, unlike the sensationalism of the mass media, focus on (although topical) events and situations with a fair share of distance. Due to their social sensibility, they tell particular, often extremely marginal stories about the consequences of an all-embracing social transition as a process that fundamentally marked the entire region.
Due to the fact that the transition itself required a sufficient reaction time for the implementation of new models of social activity, the artists, too, reacted to the changing of their direct environment with a temporal delay, following the indicators of the undeniable effects of a new reality. The attitudes of the selected artists to said processes are anything but indifferent; their stands are self-reflective and critical, although their works do not provide ultimate value judgements. Whilst introducing in their expression the ambivalence and scepticism towards generally established discourses, they are just attentive external observers and commentators of the world that irrepressibly changes. Their principal engagement is thus manifested in particular in the promotion of the cerebral activities of an individual, the relativisation of some firmly cemented standpoints and the reconsideration of collective historical memory.
The past 20-year period's social reality of accelerated (and not yet finished) transition that so evidently cut into the lives of the inhabitants of the territory of the former Yugoslavia is also very much reflected in the cultural production as the field that does not directly jeopardise the established economic and political structures. In the field of contemporary photography as an autonomous art form, this subject is dominantly expressed in genres such as photo-topography, landscape photography, socially engaged documentary photography, photo note diaries and their various combinations. Within these genre paradigms, the artists always search for their own expressive possibilities within the photographic media, which by its own nature allows for the excellent directness of their expression.
As a part of a broader regional project, the Aftermath / Changing Cultural Landscape group exhibition has its debut in Ljubljana, to be afterwards presented in various forms until the end of 2013 in partner cities. The Ljubljana presentation will be followed by large exhibitions in Zagreb, Belgrade and Pordenone and shorter presentation and discourse events based on lectures and discussions organised in Sarajevo, Cetinje and Pristina.
The research and curatorial project was initiated by Photon - Center for Contemporary Photography and C.R.A.F. Splilimbergo in collaboration with partner organisations from the territory of the former Yugoslavia - Remont from Belgrade and Film&Film from Pula - and associated partners - Collegium Artisticum from Sarajevo, Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art from Pristina and the Montenegrin National Museum from Cetinje.
The principal curatorial and research team is: Miha Colner, Mirjana Dabovic, Albert Heta, Saša Janjic, Ana Opalic, Sandra Vitaljic and Branka Vujanovic.
Artists from Serbia: Viktor Šekularac, Milena Maksimovic, Ivan Petrovic, Goran Micevski, Paula Muhr, Ivan Zupanc i Mirjana Boba Stojadinovic