Academic journal article Afterimage

Which Man Runs, Which Man Sits Still at Home?

Academic journal article Afterimage

Which Man Runs, Which Man Sits Still at Home?

Article excerpt

Jeanne C. Finley and Marina Grzinic (in collaboration with Aina Smid) have spent the last 11 years in dialogue about the art produced in and around the Balkans. Grzinic, a resident of Slovenia, and Finley, a resident of the United States, have organized exhibitions that have travelled between the former Yugoslavia and the United States and have created individual work in both regions of the world.

Originally working with video, both artists now also experiment with interactive and Internet media. Finley was an artist-in-residence at Xerox Parc with her collaborator, John Muse, and Grzinic was active as an artist, curator and writer in the former Yugoslavia. As the war erupted between the republics of Yugoslavia, much of the dialogue between these artists was centered around the body--both the metaphorical and the literal dislocation--"bilocation"--if a people who began moving between their pasts and futures in unexpected ways. The simultaneous mapping and connecting of the virtual world through the Internet served as a way of following the dislocated and as a canvas on which to invent new ways to explore and represent the issues surrounding the changing geography. Central to the dialogue between Finley and Grzinic is curator Dunja Blazevic, who has facilitated the work of artists in the former Yugoslavia for 25 years. She has continued her work after being forced from Belgrade into exile in Paris and then relocating in 1996 to Sarajevo, Bosnia.

The following text traces reflections and mediations between Blazevic, Finley and Grzinic about individual video works, writings and collaborations over the past 11 years. It is centered around the production of works that reflects the issues and questions produced by the upheaval in the Balkans, yet extends beyond its borders both physically and conceptually.

MARINA GRZINIC: A possible departure from this rhetorical question of who stays and who is forced to run is that all three corners of this unstable triangle of artists (Blazevic, Finley and Grzinic/Smid) are also producers, writers, nomads and squatters of different intersecting territories--TV broadcast companies, Internet sites and situations. But we can also spend some comfortable time at home, since we have one. So in this scenario, "Who runs, who sits still at home?"

The war raging in the territories of former Yugoslavia, from Croatia to Kosovo, has forced millions to move and created thousands of refugees, immigrants and displaced persons. A period of 11 years now marks the instability of the Balkan region and demands a fundamental portion of the mental and geographical resources of the residents of ex-Yugoslavia. The theme of nomads and residents is present in a number of video works that were produced in the territory of the former Yugoslavia state.

In 1989 Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, and at that time one of the ex- Yugoslav republics (from 1991 an independent country on the map of New Europe), presented the last edition of the International Yugoslav Video Biennial Festival. As the artistic director of the International Video Biennial, I invited Finley as one of the artists to show a retrospective program.

The fictional/non-fictional narratives presented in Finley's videos investigate the tension between individual identity and cultural and social institutions that shape that identity such as family, religion and media. Finley's videos are characterized by a narrative curve created by the storyteller's first-person voice that simultaneously opposes and is shaped by the cultural institutions. In an examination of how traditional concepts of authority, sex, political freedom and tradition have influenced the structure of individuality in American society, Finley also examines how these concepts themselves have changed.

This molding of individuality by a different set of parameters than the Balkans was the point of rupture and eclipse of the relations, bodies, concepts and territories of people living in ex-Yugoslavia. …

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