Copyright © Ana Adamovic

BALKAN SOUVENIRS (In Search of Ideal Image), Milica Pekić

Through the frame of this personal photographic research-documentary project, Ana Adamović invites contemplation of several complex questions: Who is the Other and who isn’t? Who is the observer and who the observed? What is the nature of representation? And what do I represent?

The title of the exhibition clearly defines the Balkans as the field of artistic research while the word souvenir suggests the search for some ideal view, image or memento. Exploring concepts arising from Edward Said’s “Orientalism” as well as drawing inspiration from such authors as Marija Todorova, Milica Bakić-Hejden and Vesna Goldsworthy who sought to analyze and reveal discourses of the Balkans, Ana Adamović searches for the ideal image of the Balkans.

If we are aware that the artist is from Serbia, one of the Balkan Peninsula countries, it becomes clear that she is symbolically taking the position of The Other (I am The Other). Undertaking research and entering the Balkan myth from this position she attempts to understand its nature from the inside. On the other hand, as a photographer she remains the observer, which again changes the balance of power. This positioning satisfies the basic conditions for objective analysis of personal space within the context of a wider term popularly named “The Balkans”.

A highly intimate and personal approach which rejects any manipulation of generalizations or recognized cultural types, Adamović’s work is distinct from other art practices dealing with the question of the Balkans within categories such as origin and identity. Balkan Souvenirs opens new possibilities for understanding through an intimate view from The Other angle.

New souvenirs, new images, one possible view, another possibility of understanding!

Souvenirs, as objects of ones memory of a certain place or event have, incorporated within their form, elements of type and recognition. Historical images of the Balkans are commonly constructed from types interpreted and constructed within Western models of representation. The same strategies were used in the process of creating national identities. These generalizing representations of national identity are as prevalent today as they have ever been; perhaps even more so. Photographs by Ana Adamović deny the possibility of generality, offering an entirely personal view as a legitimate souvenir of the Balkans.

Landscapes, sites, details, motifs with or without ideological marks, Adamović’s photographs lose the dimensions of time and space. Without the titles it would be hard to geographically locate the pictures and identify the time when they were photographed. Choice of photo technique as well as the deep and wide frames made like boxes, suggest the specific viewing angle of the observer. It’s the hidden view ‘through the keyhole’ that provokes an intimate and personal experience for the spectator. Each object we look at reveals its own world, frozen as memento. Personal souvenirs for future contemplation oppose more general notions of identity, geographical space and type, offering support to viewers’ own personal recollections.

Ana Adamović’s work inspires an endless number of subjective interpretations of the Balkans, celebrating the individual in all general categories. As we should repeat again: “I am Me. Who are You?”