July 32

Installation view: July 32 at Dům umění Ústí nad Labem, Czechia  January 28 – February 27 2021 Curated by Adéla Machová

Installation view: July 32 at Dům umění Ústí nad Labem, Czechia  January 28 – February 27 2021 Curated by Adéla Machová

Installation view: July 32 at Dům umění Ústí nad Labem, Czechia  January 28 – February 27 2021 Curated by Adéla Machová

2019-2020
Behind the house a stream, and the house across the post office, diagonally from a church, about 15 meters up the hill

2019-2020
A house built of brick, and between the brick a wooden beam and a wooden fence

2019-2020
There is a hill and a road, and on the side, the house with a small wooden roof

2019-2020
From the poplar tree on the right, up the road

2019-2020
From the school ahead, the zigzag road in one direction, all the way to the top of the mountain

Info / Index

July 32 (2019-2020)

Places where we were born and where we grew up, overtime become our inner topographies – places we carry within us our whole life. Metaphysical in the relation between a man and a place is maintained in virtue of remembrance – a bond that allows us to nurture, even long or hope for it – that place becomes a phantasmagorical site to which we simply are. Return to those sites carries a certain risk of not finding what we were looking for, disappointment to know that our places are long gone.

With the aim to get to know the family history I went to the locations where my grandparents were born – four different regions of ex Yugoslav space. Arrival at their place of departure, following guidelines written by them relying to their memory, left me in a space existing on the verge of remembrance and oblivion. The discrepancies in what I have found and what I have learned about those places from my grandparents, revealed hidden narratives that tell about demographic, urban, ie rural and social changes, confirming that these dislocations between remembrance and actual situation of the place unquestionably show entanglement between private and public sphere of the site. 

 

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Someone believes that their steps are led by ascendants and conjunctions of cosmic objects. For others, the starting point of their destiny lies at the crossroads of “big” history and “small” events related to a specific family or a specific person in terms of time, space, society, politics and culture. So who and what exactly determines who we are? As who we were born and whom we become during our lives?

No doubt it is our parents, grandparents and siblings. Our teachers, classmates, friends, colleagues, partners, the local community, and the relationships we build with and within it. Our home. But what does it mean — home?

The perimeter walls determining the floor plan of the building, the type of windows, and the roof? The energy pulsating within the space, the loop of establishing our environment, and endless (even hated) cherishing? The accumulated things necessary to maintain our living standard? A scent? An echo of the songs sang during the morning shower? The neighbours’ barking dog? The taste of food calibrated according to the preferences of the family members? The mist rolling over the valley in the morning? The sun that crosses the horizon at the same spot every day of the year? The crunch of the waxy shiny peel of an apple plucked in the hillside orchard, and the drops of the sticky juice running down the chin and into the sleeve? And what if it all disappears…

For no obvious reason at all. Maybe because you start moving. No matter if the movement is initiated by internal motives or external circumstances. If we leave our home, will we stay whom we were? And will those who move in after us perceive their new home – the house / the settlement / the city – in the same
way? Where does the pulsating energy go if the house remains abandoned and gradually decays? Looking for the answers to these – and many more – questions is the author of the exhibition project called July 32, Marija Mandić, a doctoral student of Visual Communication at the Faculty of Art and Design of the Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem.

This Serbian artist who lives and works in Prague and Novi Sad visited the places her family members used to call “home”, originally spread across the former Yugoslavia and now are located in several Balkan states.

The questions she asked herself at the beginning of her artistic research were related to the above-mentioned intersection of general history, specific historical events, and the destinies of the individual participants of these events. At the same time, she asked her relatives to participate in the research and to draw situation plans of their former houses, monitoring the extent to which the current situation, the historical reality, and the projection of the relatives’ memories and ideas matched.

The visitors of the exhibition are left to decide whether they will try to connect with their own broken family ties and forgotten historical contexts after seeing the installation. The author has no doubt that it is necessary to humbly listen to the past and have an open dialogue with it.

prof. Mgr. Zdena Kolečková, Ph.D.

(text for the exhibition catalogue July 32 held at Dům umění Ústí nad Labem, 2021)