The Pain of Symbols, 2023 - Autostrada Biennale

The Pain of Symbols, 2023

Artist: Rena Rädle & Vladan Jeremić

Venue: 7 ARTE

On the horizon of Mitrovica stands a monument to the local miners and Yugoslav partisans who died in World War II, erected in 1973 and designed by Bogdan Bogdanović. Rena Rädle and Vladan Jeremić explore the system of symbols that was developed as a vocabulary of resistance to nationalism during socialist Yugoslavia. They overlay this system with contemporary contexts, unfolding them into new constellations, relying on a method Lettrists called metagraphics—a way of merging words, icons, poetics, or sound. Their resulting flags consider Bogdanović’s legacy, contemporary realpolitik endeavors, and urban spaces dominated by nationalist features. The compositions summarize the passion and pain of the language of coexistence. Bogdanović understood his public memorials in Mitrovica and elsewhere as anti-monuments that defy chronological classification, that do not follow dominant patterns of socialist modernism or realism. He developed a formal language connected to mythological traditions and architecture of the ancient period. He tried to create a timeless language of humanism in sites of great suffering and heroism. Many of these memorial sites are in a deplorable state today. In their flags, Rädle and Jeremić also refer to Bogdanović’s Partisan Memorial Cemetery in Mostar and the Miners’ Monument in Mitrovica. Mostar and Mitrovica are two cities of many where Bogdanović’s monuments occupied an important landmark during the time of socialist “brotherhood and unity” and whose urban spaces became again painfully segregated due to divisions, nationalism, and war.

Rena Rädle (1970) was born in Neumarkt and lives and works in Belgrade and Berlin. Vladan Jeremić (1975) was born in Belgrade and lives and works in Belgrade and Berlin.

Text by Joanna Warsza

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