Olja Triaška Stefanović: Brotherhood and Unity
From Thursday, 16 July 2021
In her most recent project Brotherhood and Unity, Olja Triaška Stefanović explores memories of the 1980s and 1990s through architecture, memorials, and monuments of the former Yugoslavia. A large part of the project consists of images documenting the brutalist architecture that characterized the period of the Tito regime. In the context of Yugoslavia, this type of architecture is linked mainly with the official ideology of “brotherhood and unity”. Other photos are associated with mysterious spaces that point to the darker side of the regime and the cult of personality of Josip Broz Tito. By combining such iconography with family pictures and an extensive archive of newspaper clippings, the artist conveys her family history against the background of the crumbling of Yugoslavia and the escalating ethnic conflicts.
Her pictures testify to how some areas of art and culture are subjected to the ruling political and economic elite, and how they are affected by the overlaying historical palimpsest. On the one hand, they can be seen as the testimony for the times, on the other hand, there is also present the aspect of temporariness as they are no longer primarily linked with the ideology of fraternity and unity. Apart from documenting the process of building a multi-ethnic state, the official constructions, memorials and monuments demonstrate the deepening of the conflict as a result of growing nationalisms and eventual collapse of the “Yugoslav identity”.
The artist´s project investigates the turbulent history of the former Yugoslavia and ethnic conflicts in the 1990s. However, her retrospection can be extended to today´s world in general, which bears many sediments of the past. The situation in post-Yugoslavia is not that different from that in some new countries of eastern Europe and elsewhere, thus the exhibition encourages the viewer to think not only about history, politics and war, but also about memory, forgetting and finally about faith in a better future.