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Mladen Miljanović: Utopian Realism
8 February 2019 until 14 March 2019
Peacock Visual Arts
Peacock Visual Arts is proud to present the first solo show in Scotland of Mladen Miljanović, a post-conceptual performance and video artist based in Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Mladen Miljanović (b. 1981, Zenica, Yugoslavia) has had an international career spanning over a decade in contemporary art. His exhibition Garden of Delights was chosen for Bosnia-Herzegovina’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2013. In addition to exhibitions across the countries of the former Yugoslavia, he has shown extensively in Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Canada and the United States.
A series of works from the last ten years will be shown, comprising documentation, video and performance. There will also be a world premiere of his new video piece, Sounds of Homeland, and a live performance, Column, on the opening night.
Mladen’s work deals with the traumatic legacies of the conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s, both on a societal and an individual level, and its consequences in the present. Several interlinked themes inform his work.
Mladen’s work confronts social issues and addresses them as objectively as possible. In his film Do You Intend to Lie to Me (2011), Mladen explores the uncomfortable consequences of personal biography and self-mythologisation, and being asked to account for past actions in the present.
Art is also used as a metaphor for the absurdities of nationalist division and myth making in contemporary Bosnia-Herzegovina. The film Sweet Symphony of Absurdity (2013), featuring the Banja Luka Philharmonic orchestra, sees each member of the orchestra play their own favourite piece of music simultaneously, resulting in a chaotic, unintelligible whole. This parallels nationalist writings and re-writings of history and the consequences of those narratives for people’s understanding of their present.
The new work Sounds of Homeland features a re-working of a popular song, which is controversial in the local context. Working with military veterans from Bosnian, Serb and Croat armies from the Bosnian conflict of the 1990s, and set against the stunning backdrop of a rocky, spare landscape in Northern Bosnia, the artist and the musicians perform their own lyrics of the song, in an unsettling disharmony.
The aim is to show the paralysis of contemporary Bosnia-Herzegovina in the constant battle of competing understandings of the past, preventing development and reconciliation in the present. In bringing together former enemies to work together to produce a unified version of the song, the film hints at the potential to create a unified, more harmonious future.
In dealing with issues of borders, nationhood, belonging, and the consequences in the present of competing historical narratives from the past, Mladen Miljanović’s work grapples with the same problems and questions that we in Scotland are currently facing, in the very different, unresolved and contentious contexts of the Scottish independence referendum, and Brexit. As such, these title of the exhibition is bitterly ironic, and confronts its audience with some of the absurd consequences of the narratives of belonging, borders, and nation, that we all facing on both a local and global scale, and invites their response.
The exhibition is curated by Jon Blackwood, Research Lead at Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University, with Nuno Sacramento, Director, Peacock Visual Arts. The exhibition will be accompanied by a long essay on Miljanović’s work by Jon Blackwood, available from the Peacock website.