Mass Ornament

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MASS ORNAMENT #1
Watch out for gorillas in your midst!

3-channel video installation by Marta Popivoda and Ana Vujanović

Editor: Nataša Damnjanović
Sound: Jakov Munižaba
Running time: ca. 30 min
Year: 2013

The video installation investigates a controversial mass performance from the late Yugoslav era—the Youth Day celebration (slet) in 1987. On the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall and only a few years before the civil war broke out in Yugoslavia, diagnosis
the slet was a hybrid and feeble socialist spectacle that displayed striking signs of the imminent collapse of the country, which spectators seemingly didn’t “see.” We take “the blind spectators” as the video’s main protagonist. Avoiding too much explanation, we want to open a dialogue between the disembodied spectator of the slet and a bodily present spectator of our video. By disembodying those whose bodies were literally violated, harmed, or destroyed during the wars, we attempt to displace the focal point from the screen to the live bodies of spectators of the video, in order to point out their own historicity.

Longer description

The video installation investigates one of the most controversial yet little known mass performances of the late Yugoslav era—the Youth Day celebration (slet) in 1987. Slet was one of the biggest state performances in former Yugoslavia, whose function was to promote and rehearse revolutionary ideals of the socialist country. Seven years after Tito’s death, on the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and only a few years before the civil war broke out in Yugoslavia, the second to last slet was a hybrid (pop-folk-revolutionary) and etiolated socialist spectacle that confusingly displayed striking signs of the country’s imminent collapse, which spectators seemingly didn’t really “see.” Bearing in mind the future to which the slet in 1987 acted as past, we take “the blind spectators” as the video’s main protagonist. They are the ones who embody and at the same time fail to see the macro image of society and history, either because of being preoccupied with the ordinary trifles of everyday life or because the image is hidden by its obviousness. We construct the protagonist by juxtaposing three materials: on one screen, there is a reedited TV broadcast of the slet; on the other, media reports about the social context surrounding the slet; these two screens are confronted with the audio recording of a popular science lecture on the perceptive phenomenon called “inattentional blindness.” Avoiding too much explanation, we want to open a dialogue between the spectator of the slet and the spectator of our video installation, wherein the disembodiment of the former might seize the latter and pull him down into what happens to us—human beings as citizens—in the midst of grandiose socio-political events. By disembodying those whose bodies will be literally violated, harmed, or destroyed during the wars only a few years after the slet, we attempt to displace the focal point from the screen to the live bodies of spectators of the video installation, in order to point out their own historicity.

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