Urosh Djuric’s exhibition at Mala Stanica

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Urosh Djuric appears in the world of art at the beginning of the 90s, a period of crucial changes in the geopolitical situations and developments in the eastern European hemisphere, a time of falling of the Iron curtain and the beginning of the so-called neoliberal transitional politics and processes, which, true to the ideology, create characteristic class orders.

uros gjuric mala stanica 2

Populism and its interpretation, with its rules of success as an integral part of these processes, is one of the last ideologies of the 20th century and is also the field of action for Djuric’s artistic interpretation in the realization of his role in the structuring of today’s society.

This process of changes is the key factor to Djuric’s artistic decision where he re-evaluates the relation of artist-audience, the system of art-state, and introducing himself as a reference point in those processes, he re-evaluates the place of the artist in that operating system as an active participant in the micro and macro societal horizons of reality.

The various media of expression, such as painting, photography, installation, performance, are just a tool of visualization of the conceptual ideas of self-reflection, where the visual motif in the conceptual artistic discourse becomes a metalanguage or a visual text. The theoretical texts written by Stefan Vukovik and Urosh Djuric himself are important in the defining of his conceptual works, being the basis for the definition of his artistic opus.

The conceptual and post-conceptual art are auto-reflexive and based on the specific procedures in the creation of the work of art, the proto-theoretical contexts of performance and reception, the media analysis, the interpretation and deconstruction of popular culture, the functioning of political systems and practices in culture, art and society, and the analysis of the world or system of art as forms of cultural or societal politics where the artist, through presentation of first-person speech, promotes them as a general introspection. All these aspects are visible in Djuric’s work.

In 1994, together with Stevan Markuush, Urosh Djuric publishes the Manifest of autonomism, where they sublimate their ideas of artistic work. In the paintings from the cycle Autonomism, as stated by him, “the autonomous figuration is used ambiguously, much the same as Dishan uses the ready-made”. Thus, the presented figures (where we see Djuric, Phantom, Superman) originating from popular culture (comics, rock and punk movement), assume a visually-semantic textuality. The same insistence on a conceptual image occurs also in the following cycle Subjectless autonomism, where he uses Malevich’s figurative suprematism as a preposition.

At the end of the 90s, Djuric commences the Populist Project where he deepens the previous conceptual ideas in the defining of the interaction between the art system and the state, as well as the societal class orders, but also the system of celebrity, identity, where as before, his character appears in the role of a theoretical object. Populist Project is divided into several segments: God loves the dreams of Serbian artists, Celebrites, Hometown Boys and Pioneers.

One of the themes that permeate Djuric’s work is also the revision of historical facts (through documents of his personal archive and the existing archives from institutions responsible for them), and through the creation of provisionally personal history he actually speaks of the systemic dismissal of the historical facts and the lobotomization in modern society and its development (exhibitions The return of the dead painter with new problems, Red, 1 June and A short history of oblivion or don’t ask me anything and I’ll never lie to you).

Precisely this exhibition, as well, is a result of his previous research and activity in the field of art, adjusting to the societal currents in Macedonia. With the preparation and realization of the exhibition, his previous research in the direction of positioning the artist in the various segments of art and society opened new worldviews and questions to think about and act upon, which are characteristic for this climate. The features of various cultural-societal systems have their own local peculiarities, and this is one of the aspects of interest to Djuric. For this occasion, the memory of Macedonia dates back to the period of quondam Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and continues to the current states.

Adding to the project God loves the dreams of Serbian artists and his obsession with football, for this occasion Urosh Djuric takes a photo with the first team of Vardar football club, a football club from Skopje that was the only Macedonian club in former SFRY to have won the Yugoslavian championship (1986/87). From this aspect, FC Vardar is a club with its own place in the socio-societal life in Macedonia, and with its own values. This project analyses the phenomenon of the ideological populist matrix, when several social and class categories in society are skipped, where footballers are identified as modern icons and testify to the universal American dream. But, there is another moment here, where Djuric implements also a systemic error – exception, i.e., an element of surprise effect – taking a photo with the first team of FC Vardar he is the twelfth “player”, thus breaking the established rule that a football team consists of eleven footballers, relativizing the borders between social norms and artistic concepts and posing the question of the ideological and semantic character in the determining of the relative and unstable relationship in the achievements in art, culture and society.

For the realization of the project Societal portraits – Appropriations, Djuric calls on public persons who represent synonyms of Macedonia in his memory. These persons can be grouped in public persons from different areas of societal activity who represented former SFRY and Macedonia at the same time, and persons related to Urosh Djuric’s private life. In the first group, from the field of sports, we have Ace Rusevski, Macedonian boxer who won the bronze at the Summer Olympics in 1976 in Montreal, and Darko Panchev, one of the greatest Macedonian footballers of all times, who won the UEFA Champions League (1991) with the football club Crvena Zvezda (Red Star), and Djuric is a fan of this football club. Esma Redzepova also appears in this project, known throughout the world as the queen of Roma music, as well as Garabet Tavitjan, member of the Macedonian ethno-jazz-rock band Leb i Sol (Bread and Salt), whose music made a strong impact on the musical trends in former SFRY and the Balkans. Upon the disintegration of this common state, Macedonia formed its own musical scene, and in Djuric’s memory we find ingrained the Macedonian pop singers Karolina Gocheva (who represented Macedonia twice at the Eurovision Song Contest) and Maja Vukichevik (whose performances are interwoven with an intriguing and provocative aesthetics). A part of this memory is Ljubomir Frchkovski as well, prevalent in the political scene in Macedonia, one of the experts involved in the preparations of the Constitution of RM (1992-96), Minister of Foreign Affairs of RM (1996-97) and candidate of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia at the presidental elections in 2009. In the group of people from Djuric’s private life and memory we come accross persons with varios societal activity in Macedonia. The presence of artists Zhaneta Vangeli, Slavica Janeshlieva and Sasho Stanojkovik, as well as Violeta Simjanovska (musicologist), Jovan Shurbanovski (ethnologist and friend from the college years in Belgrade) and Zaharinka Bacheva Aleksoska (curator) is only logical since they are persons from the cultural-artistic sphere with whom he has established collaborations, but also friendly relationships. Paja Mihajlovski (businessman) is a childhood friend from the same (Mutapova) street in Belgrade. Thus, he creates his own section of people who (simultaneously) have been active in the societal processes, creating a kind of subjective portrait gallery of the Macedonian society. The chosen persons are asked to stand quietly for some time, alone in a room in front of a camera, and he represents through this process the other side of the persons, the character that is unknown to the public and media and is completely intimate. In fact, leaving them alone with themselves in front of the camera, Djuric touches into their alter-egos into the homo duplex of every person, where each of the persons, with their own thoughts unknown to the public, through their facial expressions and simple reactions, build and intimate auto-portrait, behind which is always the principle of uncovering the aesthetic and the intimate. This is the key moment in the unveiling of the personal identity and the attitude towards the societal system, i.e., the identity as a result of the complex system of identifications.

Gorancho Gjorgjievski

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