Solo exhibition “As if a Monsoon Suddenly Became Silent”

 U10 Gallery , Belgrade, Serbia

Curator: Teodora Jeremić

When Wendy Brown was writing about different conditions and painful spots in the post-colonial world, mapping positions of power and freedom and their mutual codependence and conditioning, and analyzing the system which is failing its promises, she has dedicated the whole chapter to attachments that hurt. Moments from the past still pinching in nowadays that we hardly let go off and forget, or society won’t let us forget them, using trauma as a tool for systematic manipulation. Wounded attachments 1 are delicate, frequently toxic and physically non-existent, invisible threads that keep us attached to injured, painful spots that pulsate inside us, and like a phantom limb, could be felt long after they are no longer part of our new reality. Via these bonds, we slide back to the epicentre of their beginning, and the central question that is being reconsidered is how does such feeling, such a mixture of vulnerability, injury and attachment, becomes the basis for defining and forming an identity? In that sense, Brown insists that an individual doesn’t necessarily have to have identical attitude and model of behaviour towards the history as the official one is, but also that history and past are inseparable from us. Therefore, we are not just neutrally positioned within history but also fabricated by it.
That very same question, Slavica is also addressing in her new works, just with a difference of moving from the position of global and collective (pain, trauma, marginalization, memories…) to more personal and intimate positions and language, wondering how does the sense of woundedness become the sense of identity? What is that I don’t speak about but I can feel, how does silenced tension look like, where is the place for all the things I ignore? Brown-alike aware that every avoidance and every attempt to turn back on painful knots in personal and collective narratives, result only in a reaffirmation of the painful structures, Slavica strives to materialize what usually escapes any definition because it can only be experienced emotionally. If Hannah Arendt defines Lebenswelt 2  as a world of human experience and interpretation, a world we have in common, and a place of intersection, that as such represents a framework for both understanding, and political judging, where speech, thought and action take place, an exhibition ” As if a monsoon suddenly became silent” opens up additional space for coexistence. It offers a world in which we do not recognize each other only by actions, and we do not meet directly and necessarily loudly, but we mutually understand in what we are silent about. Rather than on the rational, Slavica emphasizes the relational, which colours each of the encounters with exposure, accessibility, andvulnerability that turn out to have transformative qualities.
With a series of sculptures, Slavica tries to listen and react to voiceless, and perhaps unexpressed but certainly remembered within us- similar to what we are left with after the roaring storm calms down and stops. She tries to reintegrate into consciousness something repressed, rejected and abandoned by giving it a shape. Rejecting the idea of a strong individual who is in control (or persistently trying to take control over all aspects of owns life and personality), that is quite present in contemporary discourse, Slavica’s practice is actually a delicate evaluation of positions of power, and raises the question what vulnerability really is and how great is her strength? By offering a possibility that the greatest strength lies exactly there, in coming to terms with our brokenness and vulnerability, her sculptures remind of shapes Vasko Popa yearned for: “clear and faithful shapes of my restlessness, my fatigue, my dream” 3 .
Elements brought into an unusual relationship and within a narrative where everything is seemingly seductive but essentially a bit unfamiliar and unpleasant, it is emphasized how strange and unusual those emotions are. Jaws, snakes, artificially implemented ear, shell-like bodies, unnatural postures and positions, suggest that what is felt, is not only uncomfortable for an individual but also a bit monstrous. However, “a monster is not such a terrible thing to be. From the Latin root monstrum, a divine messenger of catastrophe then adapted by the old french to mean an animal of myriad origins. To be a monster is to be a hybrid signal, a lighthouse, both shelter and warning at once”.
Starting from personal insecurities, disharmonies, feelings of non-belonging and failed expectations, Slavica is not speaking about choices but rather necessities. Necessities of not drowning unconscious fears and emotions but rather becoming aware of them and bringing them to surface. Only then, and there, on the surface, in trembling and unsteady but present, reflections of self-acceptance, it becomes possible to work with not against “negative” in us. Instead of denial, and hiding and accumulating suppressed, the author accepts that articulation may be the only way to retain those feelings, but tamed and enlightened, that we are not frightened by. She treats vulnerability as a healed scar- a patch of tissue that is still different to touch, and sensitive in certain parts, but also inseparable part of who we are.
1 Wendy Brown, States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity, “Wounded Attachments”,
Princeton University Press, 1995, 52-77
2 Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, University of Chicago Press, 1958, 28
3 Ocean Vuong, On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous, Penguin Press, 2019