Dejana Vučićević

Location: Beograd

Date: 5. - 28. 05. 2022

“I’m Dreaming Things Up” is an exhibition by Belgrade artist Dejana Vučićević. The project builds on previous series that have examined the female identity and roles through childhood, youth, and maturity. The series, which takes photography as its medium, explores dreaming, play, and the role of imagination in response to the ephemeral character of everything that seems eternal and stable. The series consists of seven scenes, each carefully created with a mise-en-scene, focusing on a little girl who acts as the artist’s alter-ego. The series subverts the visual conventions by which women’s characters are defined and modes of femininity are given. The abandoned Belgrade villa in which the scenes are set is one of many that will soon be demolished, changing the urban landscape forever. The interiors of the villa are not just a background but an active protagonist, one more character in the imaginary game of this children’s theatre. The tone of anxiety is not accidental and reflects the inevitable vanishing of a family, a city, or ultimately a society and its culture. The exhibition explores the contrasts between the past and present, melancholy and humor, and old age and youth. Dejana’s meticulous approach to costume design and scenographic arrangement of scenes creates a rich visual language. The exhibition invites visitors to explore Dejana’s inner world as a materialized confession, a kind of intimate biography, and a story from which objects like fragments are taken as needed to tell a new story.

Dejana Vučićević graduated from the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade. She is a member of ULUPUDS. She works in the visual arts and has conducted several important independent projects in the field of design and fashion, as for example the artist’s fashion collections and costume design for feature and short films. She also works in costume and scenographic design for theatre and TV commercials, as well as in styling for fashion and art editorials, etc.
Within the multimedia arts, she works with conceptual art projects, realized in both solo and group exhibitions. Her works are to be found in the collections of the Museum of the City of Belgrade, the Museum of Applied Arts, the October Salon and the Telenor collection of Serbian contemporary art.


”What are you doing the whole day?
I’m dreaming things up”
Paul Valéry / Notebooks

The new project of the Belgrade artist Dejana Vučićević, in terms of approach, thematic framework and an already developed “signature”, builds on previous series which to a lesser or greater degree have reexamined the female identity and roles, encompassing childhood, youth and maturity as the key periods in every woman’s biography, and also the “role” of the wife, mother and housekeeper (Happy Family, The Perfect Time, The Awakening). All of these series, and especially this last one, are more than anything characterised by a particular poetics of dreaming, a specific relationship between reality and fiction, seriousness and humour, following a thin line between real life and the dream. Taking as a platform the traditions of Surrealism, Dejana organises her worlds around the ideas of juxtaposition and the merging of the incompatible — of the old and the new, of absence and presence, of the past and the future. More so than before, however, the newest project I’m dreaming things up takes as its theme dreaming, play, the role of the imagination in the interplay between disappearance and appearance as one of the possible responses to a consciousness of transience, to the ephemeral character of everything that seems eternal and stable to us.
In the series I’m dreaming things up, using photography as the artistic medium, Dejana Vučićević once again draws on her experience of creating filmic and advertising illusions, toying ironically with her postulates. In a series of seven scenes of which each presents a carefully created mise en scène, the focus is put on the central character of the little girl whose function again is that of the artist’s own possible alter-ego. In this sense, the latest series is building on the previous which question the visual conventions by which women’s characters are defined and modes of femininity are given, in the subversion of which Dejana Vučićević opens up fields of reflection, understanding and a critique of the various implications of these models. I’m dreaming things up, however, penetrates much more into the space of memories than earlier projects. All of Dejana’s works are characterised by a powerful retrospective approach to poetics but here a more functional turning of the past takes over almost all the substantial aspects of the entire project. The main characters in this series, little girls who dress up and play certain imaginary “roles”, are placed inside the ambient of an abandoned Belgrade villa. This villa located in Vračar is one of many which have disappeared and its recent sale and prospective demolition will forever change the urban landscape of this part of old Belgrade. Its interiors, which Dejana records as she finds them, emptied of all objects by their former owners, are not merely backgrounds but active protagonists – one more character in the imaginary game of this seeming children’s theatre. The bare walls with lighter patches as the noticeable trace of where paintings once hung create the ambience of a house of ghosts, of its former life and that of its inhabitants. The tone of anxiety is not accidental and is a reflection of the inevitable vanishing of a family, a city or ultimately a society and its culture. Visually organised as a neutral background, these walls exert a ghostly effect and stand in sharp contrast to the girls who merrily dream up their games.
As in the previous works, the little girls are a part of a carefully constructed and artificial scene. They dream of riding in sleighs, birthday celebrations, beaches, parties, princesses and princes. Here too is present Dejana’s personal signature – the meticulous approach to the costume design and scenographic arrangement of a scene in which the objects perform a complex function in the building of the message. Across the whole series Dejana Vučićević continues to develop the fundamental characteristics of her recognisable visual language – the juxtaposition of the past and present, melancholy and humour, old age and youth. The almost monochromatic background of the bare walls and striking accents of colour, the multiplication of objects and the elaborate way the protagonists are dressed, suggest to us contrasts between a pale memory and living, the active present moment, and dreaming of a still better future. Behind the recognisable “filmic quality” of Dejana’s scenes is hiding, however, an omnipresent tone of irony, the discrete subversion of idyllic nature as is symbolised by the little girls, their youth and innocence. Not immediately perceivable, the “devil” is also hiding here in the details: the birthday cake with a hundred candles, the clock hanging on the wall which shows an impossible time of the day, cakes shaped like fish “caught” in a net together with a little girl who dreams about the fulfilment of her wishes.
The rich experience of costume and scenographic design for film that is typical of Dejana’s projects is visible in this series but unlike earlier works it is present here more as a kind of thesaurus of ideas, a depot of carefully preserved objects – items of clothes, toys, shoes, details from fashion. All these objects, like those from the previous series Accumulation (Nagomilavanje), are a part of Dejana’s treasure trove, of a private museum that reveals the inner world as a materialized confession, a kind of intimate biography, a story from which objects like fragments are taken as needed to be combined afresh in a way in which they were never combined, so as to “tell” a story that was never told. Using the character of a little girl as the subject of her new story, of her new alter ego, Dejana opens herself up the most in the new series. More personal and intimate than all the previous works, the series I’m dreaming things up expands the field for the re-examination of subjectivity, the process of growing up and self-knowledge.

Katarina Mitrović
Dejana Vučićević, I’m dreaming things up, 2022