The first exhibition in the selection of artistic directors of the Artget Gallery in 2017, art historians Slađana Petrović Varagić and Miroslav Karić, is an exhibition The Nineties by Srđan Veljović, in his own words – a photographer and cultural worker, who for a decade and a half of his presence on the domestic art scene built a specific artistic position byintensive covering and documenting of various aspects of cultural, social, activist, urban life primarily of Belgrade, but also of Serbia and the region.
His photo-project The ‘90s, was created in the period of Milošević’s rule, from 1987 (i.e., theEighth Session of the CK SKS, which can be considered an introduction to the subsequentcollapse of Yugoslavia) until 2000 and another political change and transition.
In a kind of chronicle ofevents, phenomena and situations, Veljović tries to record a general picture of the society in theface of dramatic changes, from the everyday life of his environment and family to certain collective spaces or minute individual acts of non-compliance, struggle, and resistance tothe policies that lead us all into the realm of permanent crisis, instability and uncertainty.Veljović’s photographic work viewed in its entirety is specific visual research, complementedby the author’s reflection on the medium of photography itself, that is, the importance,power, potential that photography has as a document and as an artistic expression in theinterpretations and understandings of social realities.
Veljović’s The ‘90s are in a way integrally presented to the public for the first time now in the Artget Gallery. (An excerpt from the text “The Nineties by Srđan Veljović” by Miroslav Karić and Slađana Petrović Varagić)
The series of photographs The ‘90s covers the period from 1987 to 2000, i.e., the period of the rule of Slobodan Milošević. All that time I took photographs quite frequently. Looking at them from the perspective of 2017, it seems to me that these photographs document and testify about the reality of that period less than about the desire and effort to establish a space of normality and freedom. This could be achieved only through small acts of subversion, symbolic acts that have a secondary, transverse position against the withheld, never told narrative of the 90s.
Photographs related to the context of the Army form the backbone of the exhibition. They are classified into two groups: the first include those from 1987 to 1988 – the period of the JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) and the second, photographs from 1999 – the war against NATO. Focusing on the context, it is easy to perceive the difference brought by time. And immutabilities.
In the space between these two moments, situations of manifesting sociality, subjectivity are presented: the case of the club Industrija, or techno-subculture in Serbia, raft Lukas – turbo-folk, the street action of Saša Marković Mikrob Lust for Life, Wilhelm Reich, spontaneous Sunday gatherings – people’s merrymakings in Kalemegdan.
Some of the works are related to the cooperation with the art collectives Ledart and Labin Art Express (LAE). These were actions, interventions in public spaces, performed at the end of the ‘90s, the decade the effects of which were their direct topic. Summing up the meanings, causes and effects, these images talk about that time symbolically but in a very precise way.
A group of photographs, in a narrow documentary sense, shows some turning point situations of this period: from March 9 (10), 1991 and the boundary stone between Albania and Yugoslavia at Prokletije (May, 1991) at the moment when it became certain that the state would cease to exist, through bear tamers in Knez Mihailova Street in Belgrade in 1993, to the student protests in December of 1996 and wedding dress shop windows in the centre of Belgrade.
A group of photographs that significantly differs at sight from the others points to what had preceded, what had been lost. It points to the place from where we jumped into the 90’s.
Srđan Veljović (1968), a photographer and cultural worker; graduated from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering; member of ULUS (Association of Fine Artists of Serbia).
Architecture and Fascism, The Good Life as an Excess, Heaven, The Boundaries of Gender, Economy of Power Within Heterosexual Relationships, What Is a Safe Altitude, Knife Wire, The Art of Transition, Transposing – Džoni Racković, Multitudes, Techno – Positions of Subculture, Potential Places of Solidarity, Museums and Some Other Places of Remembrance, Jarboli, Industrija, Photographs-Portraits, Cinemas in the Culture of Remembrance, 20-25-29, Das Unheimliche Concept as a Practical Tool.
Project supported by Forum ZFD (Ziviler Friedensdienst), Köln