16.11.2018. - 15.12.2018.

Her New East

Asiana Jurca Avci (SLO), Karla Jurić (HR), Selma Selman (BiH), Tatjana Radičević Planinčić (SRB)

Curator: Marina Paulenka (HR)

The exhibition titled Her New East features four artists from ex-Yugoslav countries – Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia. These younger generation artists mostly use the medium of photography in their artistic expressions, but also new media, video, performance and installation. The artists represented in the exhibition seek alternative ways of telling stories rooted in our culture and, armed with a phone or a camera, they elucidate the path of defining the visual identity of the new East. By reexamining their gaze from the perspective of the conservative, male-dominated society, they explore gender roles and sexuality, myths and archetypes, the body and the urban environment. In this region, feminism is on the rise among the younger generations: feminism, not just in the sense of words and concepts, but also visually. Young women – in photography, fashion, film and media – are redefining sexuality and the female gaze and telling visual stories about contemporary womanhood in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. In these countries, plagued with old-fashioned gender stereotypes, the word feminism itself has been historically rebuffed in society, so it found its way in through other media like the Internet and television. The generations who grew up on the Internet couldn't remain immune to the changes in gender roles and not become part of the new wave of feminism, visual, young and web-savvy. Their works want to transform the outside world but also serve as records of their own inner emancipation.

Feminism, gender and stereotypes are certainly the main issues addressed in the works of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian artist of Roma origin Selma Selman. She is represented in the exhibition by her performative works translated into video and photography projects. In her work Mercedes 310, she pays her respect to and expresses admiration for the car that provides for her family and which, thereby, represents their subsistence. The two other works Self Portrait (Deconstruction of the Washing Machine) and Self-Portrait - AEG Vampyr show performances in which the artist destroys objects made of metal and separates usable from unusable materials. These cathartic performances, in addition to repetitive actions referring to a family way of life that provides subsistence and the knowledge passed on by her father, is also associated with the domestic servitude of housewives through the destruction of household appliances. This dual role, seen from the father’s and a housewife’s perspectives, provides a multi-layered meaning to all Selma’s works. These works are connected to the same topic as I was poor Then and I am Rich Now: survival and using art as means of subsistence; using the same material for different purposes with metal replacing art.

Asiana Jurca Avci, grappling with the idea of identity, faces her own body. Her body, as well as herself, has changed throughout the years, becoming aware of it through her chosen ‘family’ – her friends and her surrounding. In her work, her journal entries, she is almost completely focused on the clash of worlds, her own intimate one and the one that belongs to others, in which she is reflected. By recording the changes on her body, which changes and goes through completely normal stages, she acknowledges through the medium of photography these events and takes an active stance aiming not to shock or show something ‘odd’, but quite the opposite, to draw attention to something completely natural, omnipresent and ‘normal’. Her journal entries are grouped in fanzines which came to her as a completely spontaneous and natural medium, not just in the sense of embodying her work but its dissemination. Likewise, they provide her with the opportunity to create cinematographic narratives in visual storytelling.

Karla Jurić, a Croatian artist, constructed a persona who manifests herself through journal entries as much as it does in the digital realm of social networks, primarily Instagram. Over a one-year period, she created the series #BSBSK10 in her bathroom, virtually situated in her residence in the city centre. For social network users, (bathroom) self-portraits are unquestionably becoming an indispensable part of one’s online portfolio – the confirmation of self-existence today, or as the artist states, ‘if it isn’t on Instagram—it didn’t happen’. By examining the images, we reach a number of connotations – who is the audience who looks at and evaluates this kind of images, thereby awarding them with thousands of likes, ‘confirmations’ of sorts that the image was successful and approved. The artist adopts the role of social network users who use mobile phones and built-in cameras and beautifying apps to take selfies in order to present themselves to the audience, not necessarily male, but female in particular, who watch and evaluate them on a daily basis, and not exclusively in the digital realm. By challenging the ingrained social stereotypes, she sometimes takes on an active role, as an art director, with a tinge of subversive flirting between female and male bodies – strangers who were invited to her private quarters in order to be photographed. She is always open for discussing the authenticity of the images with the public who then deem them as socially acceptable or not: this can be observed through the number of new followers, or those who unfollowed her – mostly real-life acquaintances and friends. The artist tests the limits of the feminist idea of self-representation, but also her own identity: is it her other self or her true self that is accepted? Open for discourse, the project self-destructs: by visually promoting her project on urban facades, the artist invites the public to a gallery, a public space, which becomes the scene of destruction of the constructed character.

In her work, Serbian artist Tatjana Radičević Planinčić is primarily focused on the role, representation and Otherness of women which she explores mostly through fashion. She began her career in the fashion industry by giving her own interpretation of fashion editorials, changing the role of women from objects of desire to subjects in visual narratives. Her projects are begrudgingly received in her community which dictates (to women) what to wear, how to look, how to behave, what to hide and what to reveal. The inspiration that she draws from contemporary fashion pioneers is complemented by Tatjana’s unique experience of the revolution in the East. In her work-in-progress, she presents a woman who is stigmatized in her community due to certain physical features. Regardless of whether this (in)acceptance comes from her everyday life or the fashion world that abides by its own set of rules, she is exposed to various public comments. There is something about her that does not resemble the Other – some consider it an advantage, others a flaw. In this work, the author questions the canons of beauty and proposes new ones: those that could potentially change the face of fashion in our region? (Marina Paulenka)

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Asiana Jurca Avci (11/6/1992) was born in London, UK. Since 1999 she's been living in Ljubljana, where she graduated in September 2015 at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design. Due to a strong interest in cinematography and the more cinematographic aspects of photography, she primarily works on the creation of stories. That is why she presents most of her projects in the forms of books and fanzines. She’s participated in group exhibitions in Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, and is currently working on various projects in the disciplines of photography and film.

Karla Jurić was born in Zagreb, 1994. Earned a bachelors degree n Cinematography and is currently attending the cinematography MA programme at the Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb.

Tatjana Radičević Planinčić was born in Belgrade, 1986. Graduated Japanese Language and Literature at the Belgrade Faculty of Philology, and is currently studying at the Zurcher Hochschule fur der Kunste – HdK in Zurich, Switzerland.

Selma Selman was born in 1991 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Selman defines herself as an artist of a Roma heritage rather than as a Roma artist. Her work portrays her struggle for social acceptance, as well as the struggle of her community. She uses sculpture, photography, and video in her work. In 2014 she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Fine Arts Academy in Banja Luka. She is currently studying and teaching at Syracuse University.

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The program of Galženica Gallery is supported by the City of Velika Gorica, the Zagreb's County and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.