Saša Karalić | Four projects
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'Het is zo fijn dat wij hier niet meer over politiek hoeven te praten', 2013, Dutch political slogans

It's so nice that we don't have to talk about politics any more
(2013- ongoing)

The work 'It’s so nice that we don’t have to talk about politics anymore' was, so far, staged in three different versions and social contexts. It consists of a group of people performing a number of political slogans in public space. In each version of the work, slogans are conceived, after an extensive research, within the social context in which they are performed and based on the ‘general politics of truth’ of that context. The ‘general politics of truth’ is the foundation on which a society builds its self-perception and showcases its self-worth by often bypassing difficult questions and concerns. The work brings out these ‘truths’ and repeatedly performs them in public space.

The Dutch version of the work entitled ‘Het is zo fijn dat wij hier niet meer over politiek hoeven te praten’ was performed in June 2013 at the Amstelhoven in Amsterdam and the video registration of it was shown at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amstredam in 2015 as a part of the group exhibition ‘Resolution 827’. The slogans included in this version, amongst others, are: “We live in the human rights paradise”, “Finally, Indonesia is not a subject any more” and “We did what we could in Srebrenica”. See video here

'Het is zo fijn dat wij hier niet meer over politiek hoeven te praten', 2013, Dutch political slogans

Installation view of the Dutch version at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, 2015

The German version 'Es ist so schön, dass wir nicht mehr über Politik sprechen müssen' was produced in October 2013 by Filmfestival Münster and performed as a part of the group exhibition ‘One of us cannot be wrong’ at Kunsthalle Münster. For this event, the slogans were adjusted to the then actual German political situation, collected from the streets of Münster in the days leading up to the German general election. The slogans included, amongst others, were: “We've paid our dues”, “Our weapons provide security all over the world” and “All refugees are welcome in Germany”. See video here

'Es ist so schön, dass wir nicht mehr über Politik sprechen müssen', 2013, German political slogans

The Korean version entitled ‘We don’t have to do anything until we are independent’ was conceived and performed at the summer school The Village as a part of the SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul 2016. The participants of the workshop ‘Adjustments’ created slogans inspired by Korean political issues and performed them together. The slogans included, amongst others, were: “Our disasters are managed well”, ”Our government keeps us protected” and “North and South Korea will always be together”.

'We don’t have to do anything until we are independent', 2016, Korean political slogans

Square / Kvadrat

‘Square’ project consists of a 30 x 30 meters landmark and a documentary video following its construction. The landmark was made on the steep side of the hill Kik in the northwest of Bosnia and Herzegovina where 30 years before was standing another landmark – a large white letters ‘Tito’ spelling the name of then recently deceased president of the socialist Yugoslavia. That landmark was constructed by a group of socialist youth and maintained until the end of 1980’s when it lost its social and political function and slowly got overgrown with bushes and trees.

Archive photograph of the landmark 'Tito' bulit in 1981

In summer 2012, I proposed construction of another landmark on the same location – a simple form of a square that should serve as a political site without a pre-defined political agenda. The hill was cleared and stones of the old landmark were found, dug out and used for the construction. Around 30 volunteers joined the construction of the landmark that has been inaugurated in summer 2012.

The landmark 'Square / Kvadrat' built in 2012

The year after, in summer 2013, the video ‘Square’ was shown in a makeshift cinema to the local population that attended the event in large numbers.

By reconfiguring symbols and reaffirming collective work, the project ‘Square’ touched upon the question of political self-organisation. The memory of collectiveness as it once was – clearly defined by socialist ideological framework – served as a base for the project but not as its aim: the open form of the square was an invitation for new forms of political thinking. The new symbol was not offered as a solution but as an outlined empty space in which everything is yet to happen – through its simplicity and fragility (the square can be quickly and easily taken apart), it invites future revisions and reconfigurations.

Stills from the video 'Square'

Portraits for the museum

‘Portraits for museum’ is continuation of the project 'Square'. It was produced by Kiosk - Platform for contemporary art from Belgrade on the occasion of the exhibition ‘Fiery regards’ at the Museum of Yugoslavia in Belgrade. The exhibition was conceived as ‘a representative portrayal of childhood in socialist Yugoslavia’ and participating artists were invited to work with the archive of the Museum of Yugoslavia.

Museum of Yugoslavia, Belgrade

The Museum of Yugoslav History is a part of the memorial complex ‘House of Flowers’ (‘Kuća cveća’) where Josip Broz Tito, the life-long president of the socialist Yugoslavia, was living and where he was later buried. When Josip Broz Tito died in 1980, this place became the site of a collective mourning – people from all over Yugoslavia came in and created kilometers long queues to pay the last respect to their president. It was in this climate that the idea for the landmark ‘Tito’ was conceived. Thus, ‘Portraits for the museum’ was made for this particular museum – a series of portraits of people who built landmark ‘Tito’ in 1981 and ‘Square’ in 2012. Symbolically, the circle has been closed by returning the images of these working people to the place where their notion of (socialist) collectiveness has been created. See the portraits here

Installation view at the Museum of Yugoslavia in Belgrade

The Extra Light Project

The Extra Light Project' addressed the discourse of art and religion, similarities and differences in their usage of language, imagery and technologies in maintaining their social positions - the production of language was juxtaposed to the creation of visual content. The project was made in different stages during which, inversely to a classical set up, language preceded and mediated the visual elements of the work. The project consisted of a series of interviews with the Protestant theologian and writer Jean-Jacques Suurmond, group discussions about the upcoming smoke and light installation, video installation and the smoke and light installation at the Noorderkerk in Amsterdam.

Installation view at the Noorderkerk in Amsterdam

Discussions with Jean-Jacques Suurmond
In 2008, I started a series of discussions with Jean-Jacques Suurmond concerning art and religion, their social and political function and technologies they both apply in mediating their social effects. The discussions were recorded and, once transcribed, they started to take the form of a book. The book ‘Becoming Christian’ was published on the occasion of the smoke and light installation in December 2009.

The Extra Light Project working groups

Group discussions
The group discussions focused on the upcoming smoke and light installation and happened two months before the installation took place. The created discourse and interpretations preceded the physical experience of the installation, they were supposed to ‘say the work’ before it actually happens.
For this purpose, we created two discussion groups: one consisting of artists, art theoreticians and writers (moderated by Steven ten Thije and Chris Kuelemans) and second consisting of pastors and theologians (moderated by Jean-Jacques Suurmond). Two groups first met independently and then were brought together to compare their findings and interpretations. Before the meetings took place, each of the participants received a questionnaire and the basic information concerning the upcoming installation, the preparatory material for discussions. The attempt to predict the social and aesthetic implications of the upcoming installation was a starting point for a wider discussion about position of art and religion in society, technologies used by art and religion, relation between language and experience and many other issues. These lengthy discussions (each took around 3,5 hours), were recorded and edited in three videos. See extracts of the videos here

Video installation
The three videos made during discussions were shown as the video installation 'The Extra Light Project: Predictions' at the Lloyd Hotel Cultural Embassy in Amsterdam. The video installation opened on the 2nd of December 2009, a week before the smoke and light installation at the Noorderkerk. The audience was invited to visit the video installation before the one-night installation at the church. The installation occupied three rooms at the Lloyd Hotel; the opening was moderated by Chris Kuelemans and included lectures by Jean-Jacques Suurmond and the Dutch writer Désanne van Brederode. The book ‘Becoming Christian’ was also presented during the opening.

Installation view at the Noorderkerk

Smoke and light installation
The smoke and light installation took place at the Noorderkerk in Amsterdam on the 10th of December 2009. Visual elements that appear in both art and religion as reoccurring symbols but also as visual effects were used in the installation: four strong lamps were placed outside of the church lighting the inside through the windows while four smoke machines filled the church with a thick haze, a fog-like smoke.

Installation view at the Noorderkerk

The participants of the discussion groups were present in the church comparing their interpretations with their physical experience and discussing it further with the audience. The audience had a chance to further interpret the interpretations of the participants, especially those who also visited the video installation at the Lloyd Hotel, and infused the project with another round of language production. 'The Extra Light Project', as Steven ten Thije puts it in his text published on the occasion of the project, ‘referred as much to the ‘surplus’ of linguistic production within the project as to the amount of light produced on December 10th’. The language was constantly staged and produced not only as a vehicle for comprehension, but also as being a theatrical moment itself that manifests as a form. On the social level, the project united two different discourses and staged the encounter between art and religion as a constant movement from language to experience and back again.