Our knowledge of the world, to a great extent, is determined by the conformation of our cognitive apparatus. In the most banal interpretation, reduced merely to the human’s sense of sight, it could be said that the undetachable pink membrane fused to our pupils has made us see the world as unambiguously pink, and not as multicolored as now.
Apart from the apparatus itself, our image of the world is determined by our experiences, knowledge, political, social, and cultural context, which merge with it in an often nonreflecting, seemingly natural way. Art itself, first and foremost literature, as a form of social production of meaning, partakes in constituting the image of the world (and forming contemporary regimes of truth). Our experiences, more often than not, are being verbalized by taking over from literature, which has already presented them and interpreted them once before.
In the time when technical reproduction of artwork has turned into hyperproduction of media content, their omnipresence is being etched daily and constitutes our world. Looking back, it is clear that movie has played a crucial part in it (and today, as being far more efficient and faster, it is joined by commercials, clips on the internet, games, reality show, etc.). Like the famous line from Casablanca: ‘Lui, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship’, many other dialogues from movies have infiltrated everyday language as an important reference point for articulating or emphasizing our own experience.
And what happens with a movie picture?
I would say at that point precisely Milica Dukic begins her visual explorations. On the canvases that make up the exhibition ‘Movie picture and reality’, always one picture is quoted, taken, from movies, most of which have been memorable in, what is now, quite a long history of film art. Pictures are more or less recognizable (they have become part of the general culture, though some of them require the eye of an expert), even though they are not paradigmatic for those very movies they represent. Their choice is guided by taste, sensibility or some other (yet unrevealed) criterion of the author herself. Frozen sequences from: City Lights, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Wings of Desire, Trainspotting, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, Apocalypto, Darkness light darkness, Paths of Glory, Talk to Her, Nymphomaniac, Monty Python, The Cost of Living, Until the End of the World, Almodovar, Chaplin, Wenders, Von Trier, Kubrick, etc.
Scenes represented in the digital prints are then being appropriated. Appropriation is achieved with interventions with oil paint and embroidery, which is, it could be said, technique of the artist: she has already implemented embroidery in her paintings as part of the series Reverse – of people and drawings in Indigo and embroidery on canvas. Embroidery as part of handicrafts belongs to paradigmatic female rituals, which have historically multilaterally defined female space, as a space of work, leisure and education. By applying this, forgotten craft, it seems, though in one deliberately free form, unsubject to rules, it opens up a possibility for gender interpretation of these appropriations. Because embroidery has been described as a form of secret, magical writing, which women used to leave their mark in cultural history.
Quoting and adopting finished movie pictures, Milica Dukic assumes and transforms an art world of experience, which has already been refined. While Plato’s and Aristotle’s poetics viewed art as the memesis of the world, we observe a reverse path now: we are getting to know the world by mimicking art. Milica Dukic’s canvases explicate this twist. We have behind us now vast abundance, not just knowledge corpus, but artwork corpus, which we can no longer neglect. Implicite, they’ve already been inscribed in gestures, opinions, knowledge, art works which we produce.
Each of her paintings has been generated from one such condensed meta experience. All the while it does not just represent itself alone, but propels an entire web of connotations of the movie from which it has been extracted. So in the scene of a tired dancing couple hugging we have the presence of the social context of the movie They shoot horses, don’t they?, the same way we know where Almodovar’s doll diver, in the second canvas, is headed. Even though the author visually decontextualized her paintings, the lack of any later recontextualisation, apart from the very appropriation, as well as stating the name of the movie reference in the title of each piece, makes this connection open and dynamic in its meanings.
“Movie picture is simpler than the complex life “picture” in a phenomenological and communicational way: we remember scenes from the screen much easier, and with far more certainty than segments from life”, Ranko Munitic writes in his essay, which not only gave the name to the exhibition, was its immediate inspirator, but also provided a possible theoretical framework for its interpretation.
And what about the life itself, does it exist beyond movie reality and what does it actually look like, it’s becoming an obsolete question it seems. And yet, it is there, in the splashes of color, in unexpectedly and somewhat roughly embroidered surfaces, and it can never be entirely tamed.
Silvia Drazic, for the exhibition ‘Movie picture and reality’ (October 2016.)