THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING AN ARTIST

Artists: Nada Prlja

 

From 03/04/2013 to 28/04/2013


The artist’s profession has commonly been seen as a ‘noble’ calling, one which allows the artist a high degree of freedom, egocentricity and a bohemian lifestyle. Being an artist today, I cannot easily associate myself with any of these descriptions. By voluntarily absorbing the negativity of the world around us, is it easy to be an engaged artist today? (Prlja)

This exhibition represents a cross-section of Prlja’s work since 2004, however, it is not a collection of disconnected works. The works have been selected in order to represent the artist’s investigation into issues such as hatred, terror, neglect, deception, dishonesty, insensitivity and misinterpretation in our society today.

The expression of ‘hate’ varies from one art project to another, but a common thread can be noticed - the hate, or expression of neglect, indifference, etc. occurs in all sectors of life, from within the prisons to the use of symbols of national identity, to the ‘global hatred’ which was re-activated with the terrorist attacks (9/11, 7/7, etc.) and the reaction to these with the ‘war on terror’.

‘Give ‘em Hell’ (2008) shows a group of youngsters in London, recorded with a hidden camera. The youngsters are caught in the moment of smashing a series of protest banners, left on the streets of London, on which the slogans support immigration and the notion of equal human rights for all. The video documents the growing anger and intolerance towards immigrants.

‘Peace Wall’ (part of the Berlin Biennial 7, 2012) was a project that highlighted the increasing division of Berlin between ‘rich and poor’ citizens, by physically manifesting this division on a particular street (Friedrichstrasse), by building a 12 x 5 metre wall, which blocked the street for a period of 2 months. This public art project aimed to raise awareness and investigated the potential of discussing the economic structure within modern cities. The project led to frequent attacks on the artist (and the wall) by some of the local shop owners, while local politicians and investors hijacked and misused the Peace Wall for individual, political and investment purposes. Peace Wall raises direct questions about the potential for violence within each of us.

Through this process of portraying and even generating the ‘bad’ in this world, one could justly ask - how much hatred, dishonesty and general negativity should an artist withstand?

Artists can only record, represent and re-appropriate, in various forms, the horror around them. After collecting the information needed for their own work (making interviews, film documentation, etc.) the artist’s only option is to leave the mise-en-scène. While leaving the scene behind, I feel broken by a deep pain due to the realisation that the unjust situation of the confronted reality, could not be amended, changed or made better. For months afterwards, I do not know how to channel this feeling of smallness and powerlessness and how to live with the fact that I cannot help or heal the situation, nor heal myself. (Prlja)