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21st Red Dawns: Đejmi Hadrović – Unveiling the Silence

05 March 2020 > 22 May 2020 Kindly invited to the opening of the exhibition "Unveiling the Silence" by Đejmi Hadrović, on Thursday, 6th March, at 6.00 pm at Alkatraz Gallery, ACC Metelkova mesto. The exhibiton is curated by Tamar Klavžar, Eva Jus and Ana Grobler. The exhibition is a part of 21st International Feminist and Queer Festival Red Dawns. Additional opening hours of Alkatraz Gallery during the festival: Saturday, 7th March: 3 - 11 pm.

The 21st edition of The Feminist and Queer Festival Red Dawns will be opened with a solo exhibition of a young artist Đejmi Hadrović, who, in her artistic practice, addresses feminist topics inside a specific post-Yugoslav space and time, with references to the recent history. The artist ‘holds a strong position in the contemporary generation of Slovene artists, her work indirectly refers to capitalism, to the relationship between work and capital, and to patriarchal social structures.’ [1] Through the media of video, photography, and performance, she insightfully and consistently tackles the questions of gender, multifacetedness of identity, migration, and discrimination based on religion and ethnicity, and with a sharp view, conveys a complex critique of the society.

Feminist engagement in Đejmi Hadrović's artwork quite evidently refers to a strong artistic tradition of now already established feminist artists from ex-Yugoslav republics and their crudely straightforward and harrowing works. We can draw parallels between Šejla Kamerić’s (1976) artwork, especially her shocking Bosnian Girl, [2] and  Đejmi Hadrović’s Apartment 102 (2019), [3]  which thematises brutal physical violence of Yugoslaw wars, the genocide in Srebrenica in 1995, and systematic rapes (as a despicable ethnocide's and religiocide's strategy), and exposes the problematics of Western, colonially coloured view of the Balkans. The starting point of both works is auto portrait; what they also have in common is their black and white technique (at the start). The video asks questions about the experience of trauma and takes us into a complex field of transgenerational collective trauma caused by war violence in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Đejmi Hadrović enters the field with an empathic standpoint: she ventures into the centre of the trauma and clearly positions herself as a subject who was affected by war horrors personally, albeit indirectly.

In the video, the author's face is layered with questions of uncertainty, shame, fear, humiliation, and violence. Public proceedings of collective trauma usually deal with its experience, rather than with perpetrators of violence, whereas Apartment 102 does not stop at re-experiencing trauma. In the moment when questions culminate into Do you wish you didn't survive?, black-and-white film changes into a coloured one, the sound of whirr appears, and the artist answers the question from the beginning of the film: To stay silent or to speak? The author adopts a strong standpoint that violence is unacceptable, she empowers victims, and directs her attention to perpetrators of violence. In this way, she cuts into the continuity delineated by trauma. The double view of the problematics is strengthened also with the play with the role of the gaze – at the end, the video reveals the person behind the lenses, which can be understood as a symbol of the viewer who can actively participate in both the execution of violence and the prevention of it. In this manner, the artist warns us about the danger of a narrow view that is focusing only on the violence itself without questioning the position of the observer and viewer.

Apartment 102 was created as a result of anxiety relating to the contemplation on the unpredictability and incomprehensibility of human nature, which seemingly can force anyone to commit gruesome acts under extreme circumstances. The video thus acquires the look of a historical document helping us to see the pores through which traumatic experiences are inscribed into collective history. Meanwhile, it connects us with the implications of the past, which have become ingrained in the spirit of the age, and faces us with the ahistorical moment that opens the timeless question about the ontology of evil.

The artist's deliberation on the topic is pouring into her installation Unveiling the Silence (2020), which also touches upon war crimes in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Even more than in her aforementioned work, Hadrović establishes a very intimate communication with the viewer, who can see the contents of the work only with the help of an UV lamp, which outlines the names of the accused of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in Haag. In this way, the artist additionally draws attention to individual names hiding behind mass crimes of institutions, and, simultaneously, warns about the absence of female voices in recognized narratives of recent history of the Western Balkans. The work underlines the invisibility and absence of women in the dominant discourse. The official history writes about the dead – predominantly men, criminals, those in power. The female perspective and historical memory have no space of their own in it; rather, they reside in the oral tradition and experienced consequences of war, somewhere on the margins, in threatening absence, under the veil of mystery.

In the foreground of the majority of the artist's work is situated the appropriation of abused (ethical, religious, and other) symbols and subversion of their enforced negative meanings as well as the emancipation of the position of the Other. This becomes obvious already at the first visit of her webpage, where a skilful calligraphy initial of her name – Đ., welcomes us. The letter, which was, besides soft ć, the base and reason for nationalistic hatred in Slovene space, especially after the independence, the artist puts on the pedestal, appropriates it, and empowers everyone in connection to it. Her photographic series Zahida Is a Feminist (2016) works in a similar way. The series questions western feminisms and activist feminisms, and explores what feminism can be at the intersection of religion, ethnicity, and the relationship between "progressive" West and "undeveloped" East or the Balkans.

The artist warns us that predominant approaches of western feminisms, which won an authoritative position on the colonialist and neoliberal bases, are segregating themes that are not western, therefore they cannot be universal; alongside them, on an equal footing, she puts engaged approaches of her grandmother, Zahida. Đejmi Hadrović's works show that the past and present emancipatory practices of Balkan women were and, doubtlessly, are feminist, despite the fact that western ideological practices see and show the Balkans as patriarchal, traditional, provincial, undeveloped, mystical, exotic, and horrifying.

Tamara Klavžar, Eva Jus, Ana Grobler.


Đejmi Hadrović (1988), born in Trbovlje, Slovenia, is a time-based media artist who was nominated for OHO – young visual artist award in 2018. She was a part of the KulturKontat residency in Vienna and was a holder of Austrian chancellery scholarship. She got awarded by Förderungspreise der Stadt Wien 2018 and is a PhD scholar at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna since 2017. The emphasis of Hadrović’s artistic works is an attempt to extrapolate important cultural connections and ideological points in the Balkan region and the post-socialist nations at large. Đejmi tries to elaborate on defining feminism, sexuality and gender in post-Yugoslav space. Her work is based on a theoretical framework that is applied to contemporary art practices, such as video, photography, performance, and installation.

http://dejmihadrovic.si/

[1]  Marina Gržinić, Đejmi Hadrović: The Depiction of the Convulsion of Postsocialist Turbocapitalism in Slovenia, a solo exhibition, June 2019, Worker's Home Trbovlje, Trbovlje, 2019.

[2]  Seila Rizvic, What Does a Victim Look Like? An Interview with Šejla Kamerić on the Legacy of “Bosnian Girl” at: https://balkanist.net/what-does-a-victim-look-like-sejla-kameric/

[3] The video pays homage to the activists Jadranka Cigelj and Nusreta Sivac and others who survived the concentration camp in Omarska, Bosnia and Hercegovina. The title of the video is a literal summary of the title of Jadranka Cigelj's book, in which she writes about crimes committed in concentration camps in the area of Prijedor, Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Coorganization/Coproduction:  KUD Mreža/Galerija Alkatraz  in promotional partnership with  BLOCKFREI.

Design of the festival image 2020: Nurlama Vidrih
Design of the exhibition flyer by: Jasmina Grudnik
Curators: Tamara Klavžar, Eva Jus, Ana Grobler
Special thanks to: Laura Rivera Gomez, Eva Kovač, Robert Ahlin.

The programme of Alkatraz Gallery is supported by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and City Council Ljubljana - Department for Culture.

Photos from the opening by Nada Žgank.

Design of the festival image 2020 by Nurlama Vidrih Đejmi Hadrović: "Zahida is a Feminist", 2016, BiH Đejmi Hadrović: "Zahida is a Feminist", 2016, BiH Đejmi Hadrović: "Zahida is a Feminist", 2016, BiH Đejmi Hadrović: "Zahida is a Feminist", 2016, BiH Đejmi Hadrović: "Apartment 102", 2019