Please, introduce yourself and your artistic practice. Where and when do you work/create?
Recently I've been researching nature-narratives, storytelling and ecology. I think I was (and still am) trying to orient and adjust myself to the fact that the Anthropocene and climate crisis are happening and it's not some distant future we're talking about. Places are becoming uninhabitable now. In Europe, we're still kind of insulated from this, but probably not for long. In my work I'm not looking for any resolve to this, emotionally or otherwise, I'm looking to be able to stay with it and communicate with it, even if it often makes me feel horrible or scared or angry, but to have that two-way street that something helpful may come out of, just staying there and trying to make friends with the problem. I'm slowly now starting researching technology, what all it is, how it remembers, what relationships it holds. I'm interested in this memory and remembering that we're able to have due to technology, and what time it produces.
I like working with language and text. Usually I like working with objects and physical materials too. I start every work by collecting items, clips, fragments. I'm fond of archives. I like considering the relation to space and the body in my works. It often shows up in the "finished" set up only subtly, but it haunts the process persistently.
When making a work, I start with collecting things and taking a lot of notes on my phone at random times of day and night. Then, ideally, I go into full nun-mode and obsessively just generate raw material for a month or a few months, almost all day, every day. If I have a studio at the time, I work there, if not, I work at home. I like this sinking into research. However, things are rarely ideal so I try to keep a schedule to do at least one thing related to my art research every day. And if possible, I give myself a quota of hours per day to do the research, whether I feel like it or not - this usually happens in the mornings or after 7pm.
What mode of education was the one that made an impact on you the most? (within or outside official institutions)
I was fortunate to be involved in many interdisciplinary projects very early on in my career, and I've learned A LOT from the people I worked with, especially the ones working in performance and contemporary dance. I'm not a performer, but I've "borrowed" from performing arts many many things and techniques and thoughts about how art can be made. It is something that I think will reverberate in my practice for a long time, and I'm quite happy about it. Also, I had wonderful mentors at the university I went to, who taught me to allow for an experiment and to trust the process. It might seem simple to some, but when I was just beginning, I needed somebody to tell me that. I mean, I still periodically need to remind myself of that. You need vulnerability for both, and vulnerability can be very, very scary to me sometimes.
How do you feel about collaborations and collectivity in the changed circumstances of limited possibilities of getting together?
From my experience, the possibilities have always been limited by many factors, at least where I currently live and work, even before the pandemic. Yet, collaborations, collectivity and "getting together" still happened and are happening. This is wonderful and laudable. It also opens up a whole avalanche of unresolved questions about precarity in the arts, and the position of the artist in the current system of art markets, residencies, awards and funding, branding, promoting, curating, critiquing... Rarely are the conditions ideal. Often it happens they are not even reasonably alright.
But of course many people will be doing their artworks regardless, in some altered forms or formats. If you stop for a while, I think it's kind of similar to what happens to athletes if they suffer an injury or some other occurrence that prevents them from training - muscles fully or partially have to be rebuilt again. The body takes time to readjust to the movements. The artist's practice also takes time to readjust to the pauses. This takes added time, effort, a financial and emotional investment. And the art world knows this very well and often exploits it. I think these situations occur in other professions too, with their own "worlds" and markets.
How do you see the issue of artistic productivity in times of the pandemic?
I think in the times of this pandemic, the most important thing we should be talking about is care, and the least important thing we should be talking about is the idea of productivity, as it currently exists often defined by capitalist notions. (Not that we shouldn't be talking about it at all, though, nor that it is irrelevant or useless! But it shouldn't take center stage.)
I remember during the first lockdown there was a lot of pressure on people to "produce" something during all this free time we got to stay at home. But our time was never really "free" because we were all collectively dealing with an unpredictable global event in which many people had lost their lives to the illness, and still do. There were, and are, various disruptions that needed to be managed for everyday life to go on. This is a very difficult thing to negotiate with oneself, individually or socially.
I think there was a lot of unrecognized labour done since the beginning of the pandemic - childcare, homeschooling, emotional labour, organizing, cooking, cleaning, adjusting to everything from your job/school to social gathering happening mostly online... This labour is still going on and needs to be recognized as a form of productivity. Sadly, these are the kinds of labour that were often ignored even before the pandemic.
I think many people recognized this at some level, that everybody was actually working all the time despite apparently having free time, and the pressure to produce, in the more usual sense of the word, has diminished somewhat. We're still working since the pandemic isn't over yet.
Care, in its many forms, is maybe the most productive a human being can be. Those are complex labours that envelop and interweave many activities and many people and entities.
If this type of labour is aided, instead of ignored, it becomes easier to do it. Then gradually, more time, mental or physical capacities free up for other forms of productivity. This is why I think we need to talk less about productivity itself, and more about in what specific ways we can care for each other, ourselves, our communities and environments, and with what tools, strategies, methods, practices and policies we can do this. Care is difficult. Everybody should expect to fail at it miserably many times. But it's necessary, and rewarding, even when you get stuck in some limbo between failing miserably and succeeding and nothing seems like it's making sense.
Which art work(s) do you come back to or keep in mind?
I have a pinboard next to my desk and a tiny shelf, and currently there's been the same constellation of snippets and books on them for a while - a book of poetry Bezbroj i druge jednine, by Nada Topić, a printed picture of Buster Keaton holding a flower, a postcard with Janine Antoni's Chocolate Gnaw and a ticket stub from this show I went to a few years back, and kept telling all my friends how wonderful I thought it was, called Things Easily Forgotten by Xavier Bobes. There's a printed picture of one of On Kawara's "I'm still alive" telegrams above my e-reader with Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons and Anne Sexton's Transformations, among others, that I consulted many times this past year for life and art advice. I consulted N.P. 1977 by Neša Paripović too. I show Karpo Godina's Healthy People for Fun to my friends when they're stressed. Sometimes to myself too. Things piled up in the drawer to be put up on the pinboard, but I've been so busy lately I didn't manage to.
What would you wish for the post pandemic art world?
For the world in general, I wish that we remind ourselves and catch ourselves in time to not give in to our aggressive tendencies that might come out in the post pandemic times because of all these piled up uncertainties and insecurities that will surely not get resolved just like that. And for the art world, I wish that it helps where it can, stays kind and gets kind in places it isn't, cares, acts responsibly, softens where needed, and tries to not take itself too seriously in places where it takes itself too seriously, and gets loud and serious in places where it's maybe insecure.
I wish pandemic-themed art doesn't get trendy. But it probably will. So I wish everybody takes on these topics responsibly and thinks very hard on the human and environmental elements of it. I also wish the art world doesn't start working with almost exclusively political topics/themes everywhere (not that it shouldn't at all!) because there is more to life than politics and life is ultimately what changes policies. It needs to be fed other things too. And after a short while we'd be talking about the same European problems again anyway. But maybe I am wrong. And maybe I will change my mind about everything. I'll see what happens. I don't know.