Andrea Dramicanin – The Broken Dream (6 – 20. november 2018)
Today, cheerleaders are a somewhat obsolete social phenomenon. The image we have of them took time to build – from the end of World War II, when cheerleaders assumed the role of fans, through the early seventies boom, to the peak of their fame in the late nineties and early 2000s. Like all symbols, they are easily recognized and have a clearly defined iconography: short tops and skirts matching the colors of the team they are cheering for, hair pulled up in a ponytail, white teeth, of course, and a broad smile. Despite the fact that over time cheerleading has become a serious sport that goes beyond simple high-school cheering and requires also gymnastic and often acrobatic skills, in popular culture cheerleaders are more often seen as symbols than people. They have become the symbol of the American Dream: they are young, pretty, desirable, optimistic and full of energy. Due to globalization and the Americanization of culture, the American Dream is now a global ideal, and the symbols of American culture have a ubiquitous presence. The problem with the American Dream, however, is that it’s, in fact, a dream. It promises things that aren’t likely to happen. It is based on the belief that if you work hard and try hard you can achieve anything and provides an idealist view of the world. The reality, of course, isn’t always like this. Faith in a better tomorrow may be a good start, but to insist on making constant progress and always feeling happy can be tiresome, and great hopes also lead to great disappointments. The artist has found the motive of the cheerleaders in the memories of her childhood, when they were a frequent subject of popular films and music videos. Although this situation in which a predominantly male audience is entertained during sports events by half-naked young girls is luckily becoming increasingly less acceptable, the message they are sending is still widely present. Insistence on always being young, pretty and happy, this fake image of success broadcasted during half-time, is today present everywhere and always. Though we are partly aware that the images reaching our social network profiles are generally idealized and fake and serve to portray oneself and one’s own life as more beautiful and better than it actually is, to keep watching, every day, people who look prettier, have more fun, travel more and make more money, even if it may be untrue, creates an unbearable pressure and the impression that failure has become socially unacceptable. In her work, Andrea Dramićanin has already dealt with the topic of great expectations and what happens when these aren’t fulfilled. She creates shiny, glittering, Instagram-worthy works that refer to iconic objects and the symbols of pop culture. As with the American Dream, the problem is that these aren’t real: the cheerleader’s radiant smile turns into a grin hiding nothing but emptiness, and the whole exhibition becomes an ironic criticism of the idea about a promised better life.