Jelena Jelača – Kino Oko (17. december 2019. – 13. january 2020) @ Jugoslovenska Kinoteka
To present a past, especially the relatively recent one, is always very difficult, complex and demanding task. One of the biggest problems in (re)presenting this past might be the fact that there is not enough historical or any other distance that allows some clearer and less subjective insights, as well as a dose of nostalgia that almost always threatens to alter it even more or to change its not quite well understood dimensions.
Nostalgia, understood as a return to pain or longing for what no longer exists, is rather a complex emotion associated with feelings of meekness, passivity and resignedness, and, as such, remains mainly hidden. Nostalgia sometimes makes us ashamed of ourselves and our own feelings. However, one can ask: Can nostalgia be understood as a kind of noble sensitivity, without a tinge of the self-loathing and shame? If you look at Jelena Jelaca’s canvases the answer seems to be: Yes, it can.
Her paintings are here to demonstrate us one possible way of thinking about the past epoch or one possible perspective of interpreting these past times. If we agree that discontinuity (from the historical, through the aesthetic, to the moral) is one of the characteristics of that past, then this exhibition provides a very rare opportunity to these times to be placed within one very precise context, namely that of a cinematography of a country that no longer exists. In doing so, that past is seen in a completely different way and it becomes a reminder of what we used to be, or maybe, even, of what we could still become.
Each canvas is in fact a frame from a movie, and it is this subjective choice that begs us the questions: Why this particular film? Why this particular frame? For the choice, of course, could have been completely different. And it is at this first, initial level, that a more powerful, direct, and important question arises: Are these images not in fact reminders of some authentic values, those that have shaped and made us dignified? The basic thread that brings these canvases/frames together is the communication and interrelationship of its actors: this communication tells us to look at things around us and within ourselves in a new and different way, while the choice is there to reveal us, through familiar scenes, something that we may have never seen in them before.
Through understanding how one particular relationship has been formed, and how through it one value or feeling is created, these images allow a freedom to their viewers to complete their personal narrative or to encapsulate their own feelings; that symbolic interaction with the past may help us to notice our impoverished present. Maybe it is still not too late to return to this past and “borrow” from it the best thing in us: dignity, joy of knowing and kindness.
Each canvas/frame from any of these films is just another invitation to dialogue: What kind of life do we have to lead in order to be worthy of being called a human being?
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Dr. Aleksandra Zdravković – Zistakis