Blesok no. 54, May-June, 2007
Aračinovo 2001 by Aleksandra Petruševska
Aleksandra Petruševska’s first solo exhibition deals with war, that is its consequences – a state oftentimes recorded throughout art history. In a variety of examples, wars are represented as an inevitable part of history that merely changes its geographic positioning. From the Greek vases with renderings of warriors going off to war, to the large-scale 20th-century wars, we encounter pieces serving as symbols of war – Picasso’s Guernica, the paintings and drawings of George Grosz and Max Beckmann – which in different authors, with different sensibility, channel the need for expressing a political stance. As of the beginning of the new millennium, terrorist attacks, climaxing with the 2001 USA attacks, have changed the modes of warfare, as well as the apparently outdated defense systems. Terrorist attacks occur around the world. Their main targets are urban centers and citizens found on the scene.
The Aračinovo 2001 cycle, initiated in 2005, is inspired by the 2001 terrorist attacks in that Skopje village. This event, followed by huge political changes, also left significant individual marks. Part of the local population became refugees. The state of being a refugee in one’s own town leads to changes in auto perception, as well as the perception of state and society in general. This cycle is a realistic representation of a condition caused by a specific event, which in turn causes great changes in the artist’s life. Changes in real life are inevitably manifest in the work and development of an author.
The concept of the exhibition begins as a process of self-exploration, confronting and adapting to the new state of being. Everyday surroundings, strong feelings and revolt are reasons for an engaged approach, characterized by one idea: speak up and not stay silent. Passing through the images of ruins, we get a panoramic view of a past life which is ruined, as well as the struggle to create a new one, which is evolving. The show is an attempt to see one’s own memories through someone else’s eyes, through the eye of a camera. The interest for the subject matter develops into an artistic phase, which reaches maturity with this exhibition.
The symbolism of ruins is present in all paintings, but without falling into narratives or pathos. This symbol is chosen in order to objectively represent an actual state, to represent the remains of a home with dignity and certain distance. The ruins objectify the power of man to build and destroy – clear associations to the consequences of war. They represent the system of values of a society in war. The remains are rendered separately, in 12 pieces.
The seemingly hyper-realistic approach with a photographic note is modified by paint interventions, always more intense than the original, thus brightening the view, while the sky is unusually blue and filled with freshness and hope. By changing the point of view, the appearance of the object rendered is changed as well, to the point of seeming abstract at times. The fragments put together represent the contours of the lost home, and the stills, painted from different angles in the state they were found, do bring about certain dynamics, but the dynamics of digression, of inevitable decay.
Two pieces stand out in the cycle. The OK written on these pieces as a graffiti merely witnesses the way uninvolved parties perceive loss. It is a mark, spray-painted, that establishes the right to ownership, but in this case, it expresses the view of a third party that either supports or contests somebody’s right over something. The author, who in all previous works actively explores her own personal view on things, here takes on the role of an intensive observer of the others interventions of the ruins.
Initiated merely out of the need to speak out, these pieces end up being a complete cycle representing the consequences of war. The author takes on an engaged approach, with the desire not to see any of this happening ever again.