POPUP EXHIBITION OPENING – STORY OF THE “I”

Andrea Knezovic Story of the I popup solo exhibition opening photography people

Here you can read the interview for my solo exhibition Story of the “I” and check out the photo and video documentation from the exhibition opening.

You can check out the announcement of the exhibition and the works featured by clicking on this link. 

*Scroll down for the Croatian version

Andrea Knezovic – Story of the I (POPUP34 Solo Exhibition 2017) from Andrea Knezovic – Artist on Vimeo.

POPUP 34

Story of the “I”

Andrea Knezović

Interview by POPUP

 

While choosing the artists, POPUP advocated that generational and ideological boundaries don’t guide the program from the very beginning. Content and research were crucial in making the decisions of who will be presented and with what.

You, it seems to me, are the seventh artist from Osijek that presents her graduate work to the public. How does it feel to be compared with some, I can say, big shots that were part of the POPUP project? How do young artists, you, look at it?

As you said yourself, POPUP doesn’t choose the artists based on experience and status in the art world. I think that young artists should get a chance to present their work since that is extremely important at the beginning of anybody’s art career. I also think that exhibitions of affirmed artist or big shots as you call them, are equally important as the exhibitions of young artists because in some aspects, they have a different purpose (although both groups of artists have a common goal of presenting themselves and their work) and because we can see and learn different thing from them. It’s logical that young artists have a harder time getting exhibitions, but I think that’s one of the most important aspects of the POPUP project and something that differentiates it from the majority of other art organizations.

Existentialism with metaphors of fineness and harshness is evident or is it defense, attack, a necessity at the same time?

There are aspects of existentialism in my work, maybe mostly in the context of individualism or some aspects of nihilism, but I can’t say I find myself in the existentialist philosophy as a whole. Also, I wouldn’t say that the starting point of my work is defense or attack or a necessity. An attack has connotations of aggression and a lack of intellect for me, but that could be discussed further because it’s not always correct. Although I see why my works could be read as though they are an attack in terms of a certain critic and opposition, my intent is to express my views that are substantially different and in opposition with those of our society so in that way some of my ideas could be viewed as radical and as a result of that loo as an attack. So I wouldn’t say I start from the position of an attack, but a certain critic and commentary on our society.

I was thinking more do you feel attacked by the society or excluded by hypocrites? What do you think in what phase is our society locally, nationally, and worldwide?

I think that I belong to more than several minority groups and when I see how the society treats me, that gives me a pretty accurate indication of what phase the society is in. That’s also one of the reasons why I often show myself in my works. Of course that a shift has happened globally and I can’t say we’re completely stagnating, but unfortunately, it’s still far from ideal. The situation is far worse locally and nationally and I don’t really see any progress, sometimes it even seems that we’re going backward.

Without any deeper look at the history of human rights and the affirmation of women and their similarities and differences with men, I come to a number of fourth or fifth generation of feminists. You definitely belong to the last one, the newest generation. What the generations of today understand in the meaning of the word feminism?

Feminism has developed through history and you’re right when you say that its meaning is constantly changing. It seems to me that there are different feministic currents and that’s the main reason I often avoid using that word, especially in the explanation of my work. All of my works have different aspects of feminism, but I often don’t use that word because I think it has different connotations, some of which I don’t agree with, so I’m very careful about using that word. It seems to me that today one part of feminists became ideologically too strong, even radical, while the other part is too ‘soft’ and practically unusable. There’s a middle ground of course, but the point is that I don’t think that there is just one meaning of feminism today. I explain feminism to myself in a way that I consider is right for me. But the basis, and something that is common with all feministic thought from its beginnings until today, is equality and everything else are only variations. And as an addition, I think that it’s very interesting, and kind of funny that the word feminism is a masculine noun in Croatian language.

That’s how it is with languages, they, like art, don’t always know the principles of equality. For an example, in German, the word feminism is a neuter noun, and in some languages nouns don’t have a gender. Besides the ideas of equality, another important aspect of your work is self-presentation, or how you call it, self-representation.

Self-representation is extremely important in my works, and in some ways it is connected with the questions of equality. Women and women’s bodies were presented by men throughout history. Because of that, self-representation is immensely important in the works of female artists and I think they should talk about themselves and their experience as much as possible. It’s about taking control and having the possibility to choose how women are represented. Besides artists using self-representation to simply present themselves, there are many questions about identity itself when we talk about self-representation, and what identity actually is. Many artists, including me, use self-representation in their works to present and explore different roles. To me, the game of what I think I am and how others perceive me is really interesting so I try to incorporate that in my works. All of that speaks to the complexity of who we are, what we want to be, and what others think we are. The question of female sexuality is also closely tied with self-representation and that’s another aspect of my works that I always like to explore in many different ways. Female sexuality is still something that’s not being talked about enough and I’m surprised every time that it’s still a taboo. That’s why I think that showing one’s sexuality is immensely important for young female artists around the world, especially for ones who are living in smaller and less advanced places like Croatia.

In the last fifty years and before, and especially from the sexual revolution that definitely changed the view of the world, a lot of artists dealt with subjects of sexuality in many different ways. To make it simple and not ask a rhetorical question, what is new here and is your criteria a provincial Croatian mentality, because then we can refer to an even more rigid and hypocritical mentally.

As long as people have a problem with any aspects of sexuality and don’t understand, accept, and be completely free, there will be something artists should talk about. Here I also mean the questions of gender, sex, sexual orientation and anything that has to do with these subjects. For example, only recently we started publicly talking about transgender and transsexual people and the questions of gender and sex. Of course, all of that exists from the beginning of mankind, but it’s something that the majority of people didn’t know much about and they’re still beginning to understand those terms. That is just one of the indicators that there’s certainly something new that society and artists should deal with, with the purpose of discourse, learning, and awareness. I speak of these issues on a global level but of course my starting point is the environment and the place that I live in because I look at those problems directly and have experiences on a personal level. If we talk about provincial Croatian mentality, there’s a lot to say. First of all, there’s a peculiar fear of everything that’s different and doesn’t fit in the outdated and restrictive norms. Tolerance towards something that’s different from someone’s personal idea of life is very low. False moralists and hypocrites are abundant and those are the people who are always shocked with the way I live my life, which is nothing more than a free, open way of living that is not dictated by any social norms or opinions. From growing up in a village where I was completely excluded from the community because I didn’t fit in, to living in Osijek where I saw that the situation wasn’t that much better, I had the chance to experience what people are like and how they treat someone like me. And I’m someone who is often not accepted even in the minority or alternative groups that should have similar opinions. Although my attitude and opinions are normal for me, as they are for everybody, I always get reminded that they are immensely different to the people in this community. I always had the feeling of not belonging anywhere and I simply couldn’t fit in into the typical social groups; I didn’t fit with people from college, I can’t relate to the majority of women, and it’s really hard for me to find people who understand and accept my way of thinking. I’m not a type of person that finds it necessary to be a part of something and be accepted by everyone, but it’s really interesting for me to observe myself in relation to other people and how they perceive me. What I want to provoke in my works is an open conversation about subjects and problems that are insufficiently talked about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by: POPUP

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CROATIAN VERSION OF THE INTERVIEW

POPUP 34

Story of the „I“

Andrea Knezović

Interview vodio POPUP

 

 Prilikom odabira umjetnica i umjetnika POPUP se od samog početka zalagao da generacijske i ideološke granice ne budu vodilja programa već da sadržaj i istraživanje budu presudni u donošenju odluka koga i s čim predstaviti.

Ti si, čini mi se, sedma osječka umjetnica koja svoj diplomski rad izručuje javnosti. Kakav je osječaj biti uspoređan sa nekim od slobodno mogu reći, faca koji su prodefilirali u zadnjih sedam godina. Kako mladi umjetnici/ce odnosno ti gledaš na to?

Kao što si i sam rekao, POPUP ne bira umjetnike i umjetnice na temelju iskustva ili umjetničkog statusa. Smatram da mladi umjetnici i umjetnice trebaju dobiti priliku predstaviti svoj rad s obzirom na to da je to iznimno bitno na početku svačije umjetničke karijere. Također smatram da su izložbe afirmiranih umjetnika ili ‘faca’, kako ih zoveš, jednako bitne kao i izložbe mladih umjetnika zato što u nekim aspektima imaju različitu svrhu (iako obje skupine umjetnika imaju zajednički cilj predstavljanja sebe i svojih radova) i zato što možemo vidjeti i naučiti različite stvari kod njih. Logično je da je mladim umjetnicima teže doći do izložbi ali mislim da je baš to jedan od bitnijih aspekata POPUP-a i nešto što ga razlikuje od većine umjetničkih organizacija.

Egzistencijalizam sa metaforama finoće i grubosti je evidentan ili je to istovremeno obrana, napad, nužda?

U mojim radovima postoje aspekti egzistencijalizma, možda ponajviše u kontekstu individualizma ili male doze nihilizma, ali ne mogu reći da se pronalazim u cjelokupnoj egzistencijalističkoj filozofiji. Isto tako, ne bih rekla da je polazište mojih radova ni obrana, ni napad, a ni nužda. Napad za mene ima konotacije agresije i manjka intelekta, no dalo bi se i o tome raspravljati, to nije uvijek točno. Iako vidim na koji način bi se moji radovi mogli iščitati kao da imaju napadački karakter u smislu određene kritike i opozicije, moja namjera je više iskazati svoje stavove, koji jesu poprilično drugačiji i u suprotnosti od onih našeg društva pa se tako neke moje ideje mogu smatrati radikalnim i kao rezultat toga izgledati kao napad. Tako da ne bih rekla idem s pozicije napada, nego određene kritike i komentara.

Mislio sam više na to, dali se ti osjećaš od društva napadnuta ili licemjerno isključena, odnosno što misliš u kojoj je fazi naše društvo lokalno i nacionalno ili šire?

Smatram da sam pripadnik više od nekoliko manjinskih skupina i kada vidim kako se društvo ponaša prema meni, to mi daje prilično točnu indikaciju o tome u kojoj je fazi. To je i jedan od razloga zašto ćesto prikazujem sebe u svojim radovima. Naravno da su se neki pomaci dogodili globalno i ne mogu reći da skroz stagniramo, ali i dalje to nažalost nije ni blizu idealnog. Lokalno i nacionalno je situacija naravno puno gora i iskreno ne vidim neke posebne pomake, ponekad mi se čini i da idemo unazad.

Bez nekog posebno dubinskog pogleda u povijest razvoja ljudskih prava pa tako i afirmacije žena kao i njihovih sličnosti i različitosti sa muškarcima, dolazim do neke brojke od 4. ili 5. generacije feministica. Ti svakako pripadaš toj zadnjoj, odnosno najnovijoj generaciji. Što današnje, nadolazeće generacije podrazumijevaju u značenju riječi feminizam?

Feminizam se razvijao kroz povijest i u pravu si da se njegovo značenje mijenja. Meni se čini da i danas postoje različite feminističke struje i to je glavni razlog zašto jako često izbjegavam koristiti tu riječ, posebno u objašnjenjima svog rada. Svi moji radovi imaju očite aspekte feminizma, no često tu riječ ne koristim zato što smatram da ima različite konotacije, neke s kojim se ne slažem, pa sam zbog toga veoma oprezna. Čini mi se da je u današnje vrijeme jedan dio feministica postao previše ideološki strog, pa čak i radikalan, dok je drugi dio previše ‘mekan’ i praktički neiskoristiv. Postoji i neka sredina naravno, ali poanta je u tome da ne mislim da danas postoji samo jedno značenje feminizma. Ja sebi feminizam objašnjavam na način koji ja smatram da je ispravan. Ali osnova, i ono što je zajedničko feminizmu od njegovog začetka do danas je jednakost, a sve drugo su samo varijacije. I kao dodatak, smatram da je iznimno zanimljivo, a pomalo i smiješno to što je feminizam imenica muškog roda u hrvatskom jeziku. 😉

Tako je to sa jezicima, oni kao i umjetnost ne poznaju uvijek načela jednakosti. Npr., na njemačkom je srednji rod, a u nekim jezicima imenice nemaju rod. Osim što su ideje ravnopravnosti prisutne, kod tebe je također prisutna, kao druga bitna znaćajka, auto prezentacija ili kao si ti to još bolje nazivaš auto reprezentacija.

Autoreprezentacija je iznimno bitna u mojim radovima, a na neki način se i veže s pitanjem jednakosti. Žene i žensko tijelo su kroz gotovo cijelu povijest umjetnosti prikazivali muškarci. Zbog toga je autoreprezentacija veoma bitna u djelima umjetnica i mislim da što više trebaju govoriti o sebi i svojim iskustvima. Tu se radi o preuzimanju kontrole i mogućnosti biranja načina na koji se žene prikazuju. Osim što se umjetnice i umjetnici služe autoreprezentacijom da jednostavno predstave sebe, tu se nude mnoga pitanja o samom identitetu, što je on zapravo, kako nastaje, i u kojoj mjeru ga oblikuje društvo u kojem živimo?  Mnogi umjetnici/e, uključujući i mene, koriste prezentaciju sebe u djelima kako bi prikazali i istražili različite uloge. Meni je jako zanimljiva i igra između onoga što smatram da jesam i onoga kako me drugi ljudi vide pa to često pokušavam utjeloviti u svojim djelima. Sve to govori o kompleksnosti onoga što jesmo, što želimo biti, i što drugi misle da jesmo. Pitanje ženske seksualnosti je također usko vezano s autoreprezentacijom i to je još jedan aspekt mojih radova koji uvijek volim istraživati na mnogo različitih načina. Ženska seksualnost je nešto o čemu se i dalje malo govori, i svaki put me iznova iznenađuje da je to i dalje taboo tema. Zbog toga mislim da je prikazivanje vlastite seksualnosti neizmjerno važno za mlade umjetnice diljem svijeta, a posebno za one koje žive u tradicionalnijim i manje naprednim sredinama kao što je Hrvatska.

U zadnjih 50 godina i prije, a posebno od sexualne revolucije koja je definitivno promijenila pogled na svijet, zaista mnogo umjetnica i umjetnika se na vrlo različite načine bavilo temama sa i oko sexualnosti. Da pojednostavim, a da ne postavim retoričko pitanje, što tu ima još novo i dali je tebi mjerilo nekakav provincijalni hrvatski mentalitet, da ne kažem osječki, jer onda se možemo referirati na neki još rigidniji i licemjerniji mentalitet ili sredinu.

 

Dokle god ljudi budi imali problema sa bilo kojim aspektima seksualnosti i ne budu shvaćali, prihvaćali i bili potpuno slobodni, postojat će nešto o čemu se treba govoriti i čime se treba baviti u umjetnosti. Ovdje također mislim i na pitanja roda, spola, seksualne orijentacije, i svega što ima veze s tim temama. Na primjer, tek nedavno se javno počelo govoriti transrodnosti, transeksualnosti i pitanjima roda i spola. Naravno, sve to postoji oduvijek, ali o tome ljudi nisu puno znali i još uvijek su na početku upoznavanja sa tim pojmovima. To je samo jedan od indikatora da svakako postoji nešto novo čime se društvo i umjetnici trebaju pozabaviti u svrhu diskursa, učenja i osvještavanja ljudi. O tim problemima progovaram na globalnoj razini, ali naravno da mi je polazište sredina u kojoj živim zato što ovdje te probleme direktno gledam i imam iskustva s njima na osobnoj razini. Ako govorimo o provincijalnom hrvatskom mentalitetu, tu se ima mnogo toga za kazati. Prvenstveno se tu radi o strahu od svega što je drugačije i što se ne uklapa u zastarjele i ograničavajuće norme. Tolerancija prema nečemu što se razlikuje od nečije osobne ideje o životu je na veoma niskoj razini. Lažnih moralista i licemjera ima mnogo i to su ljudi koji su se uvijek šokirali na moj način života koji nije ništa više nego slobodan, otvoren način života koji nije diktiran nikakvim društvenim normama niti mišljenjima. Od odrastanja na selu gdje sam bila apsolutno isključena iz zajednice zato što se nisam uklapala, do života u Osijeku gdje sam shvatila da situacija nije puno bolja, sam imala prilike iskusiti kakvi su ljudi i na koji način se ponašaju prema nekome kao što sam ja. A ja sam netko tko često biva ne prihvaćen čak i u manjinskim i alternativnim skupinama za koje sam mislila da dijelimo slične stavove. Iako su meni moji stavovi i razmišljanja normalni, kao što su svakome, iznova uviđam da su oni iznimno neobični ljudima u ovoj sredini. Oduvijek me prati osjećaj ne pripadanja i nikako se nisam mogla uklopiti u tipične socijalne zajednice; nisam se uklapala u društvo sa faksa, ne razumijem većinu svojih vršnjaka pa sam uvijek bila u puno starijem društvu, sa velikom većinom žena se ne mogu poistovjetiti, i zapravo mi je teško pronaći ljude koji prihvaćaju moj način razmišljanja. Nisam osoba kojoj je nužno potrebno da bude dio nečega i da bude opće prihvaćena, ali mi je jako zanimljivo promatrati sebe u odnosu na druge i kako oni mene doživljavaju. Ta razmišljanja su naravno prisutna i u mojim radovima. Ono što želim provocirati svojim radovima je otvoreni razgovor o temama i problemima o kojima se nedovoljno često priča.

Nastavlja se.

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