Feminist art

The Borders ©nada pleskonjic

 

We live in traditional,conservative and patriarchal society where  partner’s, institutional or system  violence is a constant threat. Criminal justice system in Serbia continues to fail to protect human rights, specially the patriarchal oppression women face in this country. The women’s movement ACT Women worked to create new spaces for women to push back against that oppression through  workshops, performances, installation etc . As far as I am concerned, using art and education for dialogue, emancipation and greater awareness of the problems is  necessary more than ever.

My cooperation with the group  ACT Women started last year with the project Borders. I was so happy when I got a call from one of the members Vesna Bujosevic to participate in the project with photography workshop as a teacher. Short summary of the project was:    “BORDERS ,  feminist, interactive research project, aiming to explore how women see borders (depending on their geographical and social-cultural positions), and how they relate (body or sexual) borders to their safety and possibility to defense themselves. We  will include and animate women in 3 towns in Serbia to reexamine their understanding of borders and how they influence on their safety. After workshops they  will present photographs that they made to the audience in their own towns and in Belgrade within 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women”.

It was a huge challenge to prepare photography lessons which will support the main idea but the result was really interesting. Lecture combined theory-women who have influenced photography now and in the past, and the practical part- how to use camera and capture pictures in order to present some problems or issues we are dealing at the moment. The main topic was, of course, the Borders. They could work with digital and film cameras.

 

Šid, during the workshop ©nada pleskonjic

 

We gathered women of different age and occupations.During the workshop participants  were encouraged to develop their individual vision focusing on main topic but beside photography they have learned about body and voice techniques. That part of the workshop was lead by Slađana Rackov and it was really important for women, specially that  some participants  were introduced with  feminist work for the first time, also it was important for me.  Awareness of your body movements or breathing could be helpful in different variety of situations.

 

Kruševac, during the workshop ©nada pleskonjic

 

There were around  80 women in all three towns that were participating  on workshops. The result was 50 photographs for exhibition.

 

Vlasotince, during the workshop © nada pleskonjic

When I saw all pictures for the final exhibition I was so proud… and  I’m so thankful at the same time.I’ve got a huge opportunity and there was the outcome ,also  friendship with ACT Women members moved me in many different ways. If you follow  link  below you will see the photos  women made during the workshop.

 

http://www.actwomen.org/internet-izlo382ba-granice.html

 

Final exhibition “Borders” was  in Cultural center Rex  in Belgrade. Photos of participants, performance by ACT Women and my video installation. The performance was great, they were remarkable  and this is the  right time to introduce you with the members of  ACT Women, through the pictures from performance.

Zorica Nikolic © nada pleskonjic

 

 

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Ana Imširović Đorđević © nada pleskonjic

 

Vesna Bujošević © nada pleskonjic

 

Slađana Rackov © nada pleskonjic

 

 

Romana Caran © nada pleskonjic

 

 

 

Place for the exhibition was a stage for the performance.

 

 

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During the performance ©nada pleskonjic

 

Nothing would be possible without enormous effort and great organization skills of lovely Zoe Gudović. Every single element inevitable for the realization of the project  and exhibition was there thanks to her.

Here is a short video documentation where you can see how they act together, performance  starts when Zoe opens the door.

 

 

Trough the project Borders I met these wonderful and talented girls. I had opportunity to treat medium of  photography differently than usual, to teach photography and above all , I had  chance to  motivate  women to take part in feminist projects. Recently I become a member of the group and I am very honored and grateful for that.

 

Here we are (from left to right) Slađana Rackov, Vesna Bujošević, Nada Pleskonjić, Romana Caran, Zorica Nikolić, Ana Imširović Đorđević and in the middle Zoe Gudović.

 

ACT Women © nada pleskonjic

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Without purpose

“Idea without money is like a museum without artworks”

I have no words to explain how important was for me and my work visiting Belgrade’s Museum of Contemporary Art; before and during my studies. Beside one of the most significant collection of 20th century Yugoslavian art there were also huge  foreign art collection,mostly graphics and drawings from Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Joan Miró, Georges Braque, Salvador Dalí, Robert Rauschenberg …paintings from Max Ernst ,  huge number of  beautiful sculptures, also  interesting new media collection from Marina Abramović,George Maciunas etc.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade 2002. ©nada pleskonjic

The museum is one of Europe’s oldest contemporary art museums, founded in 1958.  Designed by  architects Ivan Antic and Ivanka Raspopovic, who have been awarded  in 1965 when the museum was officially  opened. MCA  building has been declared as a building of cultural heritage.

The location is beautiful also. So close from the place where the Sava river runs into the Danube.

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The Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade 2002. ©nada pleskonjic

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade 2002. ©nada pleskonjic

Time  I spent there is so precious to me even today. Every Wednesday entrance was free, you could pick up coffee or what you like, from  a vending machine and take a tour all day long. It was a place where I learned how to analyze  paintings and different types of artworks. Place where me and my colleagues  had  a lot of discussions about art. Place were we saw some artworks for the first time in our life!!!

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade 2002. ©nada pleskonjic

 

 The Museum of Contemporary Art has been closed to public due to reconstruction in 2007.  As I recall just for a brief renovation. Main purpose was to equip it as an art space suitable for the 21st Century. We are waiting for seven years for someone to do something.

At 2012. was a great project – What Happened to the Museum of Contemporary Art?

a non-exhibition of documentation, art interventions and the building interior.

Here is the link so you can read it.

http://eng.msub.org.rs/sta-se-dogodilo-sa-muzejom-savremene-umetnosti

The New York Times published article about this problem, BBC News also, but nothing happened.

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The Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade. September, 2014. ©nada pleskonjic

 

Young generations of artists are graduating without possibility to see huge collection of the museum. Without chance to have their own memories as I do. But I am optimistic,something will have to change in future cause this is a big problem for Serbian culture also.

 

 

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade. September, 2014. ©nada pleskonjic

 

Until then, in front of the museum you can watch contemporary circus. International project “Cirkobalkana” is cooperation between circus organizations  Cirkusfera(Serbia), Cirkorama(Croatia) and Cirk’Oblique(France). They are magnificent. I had such a lovely time, show was totally great as it was a party after. Lot of  amazing and  interesting people. So if you are in Belgrade during September dont miss a chance to watch them, you wont regret certainly and you know the location- Museum of Contemporary Art.

 

 

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade. September, 2014. ©nada pleskonjic

 

 

Photo lamp

photo lamp/light on

Custom made light with hand made black and white photo. Porcelain and black sheet metal. Maximum lamp size is 23x33cm.

 

These days I’m preparing  new edition of photo lamps.  I thought it is a right time to write something  about them. First of all, I really hope you like the idea to have a hand made black and white print on porcelain which can glow if you want. It isn’t a lamp for reading ,just to make cozy and nice atmosphere at your home. When I started to experiment with porcelain I’ve heard about paper clay which can be light transparent after burning in kiln. The hole process was so interesting to me and I started to think how it would be nice to combine photography and ceramics plates where light can penetrate from back. Part of my latest exhibition has that kind of installation among prints on silk and paper. You can find more about the process itself in my first post.

Preparing exhibition Dangerous ends

Preparing installation for exhibition Dangerous ends

The other fact which is worth mentioning is that you can decide which part should glow ,depending on position of your light source. I didn’t want light all over the prints for my exhibition, just some small parts which were important for story.

 

Dangerous ends, liquid emulsion on porcelain

Light source is behind his face; part of exhibition Dangerous ends.

 

 

You can play with porcelain surface also. If you leave bubbles of air in your plates or make some design by pressing something into, light will penetrate more cause surface is thinner at that part of plate. It is always better to choose your prints before you decide what to do with your plates otherwise you can finished plates, prepare them, make a print and realize that effects are on the wrong place.  Save your money and time, prepare it before as much as you can but keep in mind that some things are still unpredictable.

 

Glowing dots are air bubbles which I left during plate preparation.

Glowing dots are air bubbles which I left during plate preparation.

Fact that you can turn on and off your photo was funny to me in some sort of way as it was  using everyday object ,like a simple lamp and transform it into art piece.  Specially that most common use of glowing photos would be for advertising.

photo lamp/light off

Photo lamp/light off

 

Porcelain is a great material to work with and choosing a right light source makes  a “candle effect”. Light is so warm and nice. It can be a lamp for special moments or just for relaxation after a busy day. Let me know what you think about this photo product, would you like to have something like this at your home?  🙂

PHOTO SILK

Natural raw silk as a base for large format prints was part of my latest project Dangerous ends.

I started last year while I was preparing exhibition for Pula, Croatia. I love it, I mean the final result.

print on silk.

Dangerous ends, liquid emulsion on silk

The process is always a long journey or at least quite a challenge when you use different material for first time because you are changing the routine. Some materials are more difficult to deal with than others.

A friend of mine said once “ Who gives a f…  if it is harder to make print on it?“
I agree, I have to admit, no one at all, not even me.

Dangerous ends, print on slik

Emulsion separated form base on the left side of the print- Dangerous ends

The key is preparation , you have to find a way to prepare your surface to become a photo. Otherwise you may have problems which, sometimes, can give you wonderful results.

I was using undiluted gesso for silk preparation. Be careful, there are different types of gesso products. Some have bigger grain, so surface on your silk becomes rough. Don’t use that one , just the one with fine grain or you wont be able to make a thin coat.

Silk is drying after two layers of gesso

Silk is drying after two layers of gesso

 

Natural raw silk was my choice , if not,  I would pick some other natural material because they are the best  for applying emulsion on it.

Don’t forget to stretch silk, it is very important even during emulsion coating, that is how  you’ll preserve silk to be straight .

I couldn’t  use sponge for developing and fixing , emulsion on silk is sensitive during processing, if you touch it you could separate it from the base.

huge developing tray

I had prints 1m x 70 cm so I made custom developing tray.

If you would like to sell your work, wait a little bit. Just to be sure  that your print will stay like it was when client bought it from you.

So keep it at least for  6 months and check it from time to time.

print on silk

Dangerous ends, liquid emulsion on silk

sold print

This one found home in Australia. I asked owner to send me picture how it looks like in his apartment, and here it is 🙂

Exhibition Dangerous Ends

Dangerous Ends

I’m happy to announce my solo exhibition opening on Tuesday, June 10th at  19:00,  Dom Omladine Belgrade Gallery. The show will be up through June 24th, so if you are in town, please stop by.

Dangerous Ends, film that doesn’t exist as photo ambient, constructed from hand made prints on watercolor paper, porcelain and silk.

 

Dangerous Ends

 

Welcome!!!

 

What a joy Diana the toy

Visiting Pula,Croatia     ©nada pleskonjic

Visiting Pula,cross process
©nada pleskonjic

At my University everything about photography was so serious ,except me. I don’t say it should be different, becoming a professional photographer or cinematographer has a lot of responsibility but I think that we need to learn more outside of the scope given by universities. Until the third year we were shooting only with film cameras. My first laboratory was my small bathroom,maybe that is why I am still drinking my morning coffee there.

It was funny but hard to make perfect prints. When final exams come your prints had to be good no matter where you were making them or how. No mistakes allowed.

I started to appreciate a mistake when I met Emil Schildt, great man and photographer. I learned a lot from him. When he told me to scratch and cut my negative at first I thought he is totally crazy. He called that technique „Kill your darlings“ and you should see it on his website it is totally amazing.

http://www.emilschildt.com/KILL.htm

Emil has a really huge collection of lenses and cameras , every time when I notice something new  I was saying “Please call me Alice cause this is how a wonderland look like”.

But among all that lovely stuff was one cheep, plastic and a little bit ugly medium format camera; Diana.

I never saw a real purpose for collecting simple memories until Diana came in to my life.

Driving licence ©nada pleskonjic

Driving licence ©nada pleskonjic

Two months ago, we were traveling from Amsterdam to Belgrade with 2CV for two days. It was interesting and funny, like you are driving in a cute, big toy. Every refueling stop made me  happy cause I was the only smoker in the car.

Traveling In The Citroen 2CV ©nada pleskonjic

Traveling In The Citroen 2CV ©nada pleskonjic

I really liked the car, so I used him for acting or posing  in my newest project “Dangerous ends” but I used  Hasselblad for taking pictures and of course there is a lot of difference. The Diana camera has a simple plastic meniscus lens.  Using 120 roll film and 35mm. Soft focus with this camera is something you should try. So for every purpose there is a right toy 🙂

Dangerous ends©nada pleskonjic

Dangerous ends©nada pleskonjic

There are so many ways to collect memories that will last a lifetime, my choice is Diana. I have two cameras, first Diana is from the early 1960s  and the other one  is new F+. She is not separating frames as you can see. When I noticed that I started to shoot two or three frames in row for final picture.

Visiting Rodin©nada pleskonjic

Visiting Rodin©nada pleskonjic

Visiting Oscar Wilde©nada pleskonjic

Visiting Oscar Wilde©nada pleskonjic

Mestrovic in Paris©nada pleskonjic

Mestrovic in Paris©nada pleskonjic

 

 

At the end I have to say…YES… mistakes can be very useful.

Visiting Amsterdam©nada pleskonjic

Visiting Amsterdam©nada pleskonjic

 

Process of producing photos on porcelain

black and white photo on porcelain © nada pleskonjic

 

I’m combining the medium of paperclay ceramics, old analog technology and hand-coating liquid photographic emulsion. I had been working in black and white photography for a long time and for me personal expression is the most important as are the possibilities of expanding your own photographic skills.

 Liquid emulsion offers the freedom of choice because image can be placed on a wide variety of surfaces.However, it can be a danger  to become so caught up in the medium and the processes and lose sight of the purpose of art.

When I began practicing ceramics  and learning basic I start to think about porcelain as a sensitive surface.
I liked the idea of working from beginning to end.

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I’m making my own paper clay.

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After firing in a kiln I’m preparing pieces for emulsion coating.

Surface preparation depends of your base selection because a great range of materials can be used as the base material for your photo.

I’m using Jiaban brushes without metal parts on it, applying more than one emulsion coat.

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After the exposure of negative, pieces are ready for the chemical bath in the darkroom.

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Darkroom

 

Then I’m washing them for two hours in the running water, drying them and they are ready to become jewelry, wall decor, lamp or something else.