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DSCENE INTERVIEW: Things To Remember by Jovana Banjanac

Visual artist Jovana Banjanac talks about her latest exhibition in Belgrade’s Gallery Zvono.

Belgrade-based artist Jovana Banjanac presented her latest exhibition “Things to remember” at Gallery Zvono from September 19th to Ocotber 14th 2022. Inspired by busses and daily commuting, Jovana recreated a bus in a gallery space and presented a new series of drawings and video works.

ART

DSCENE Editor Borislav Utjesinovic sits down with Jovana to talk about her thinking process, social media references and bringing a bus into gallery space.

The name of your exhibition is “Things to remember”. What would you like people to remember about you and your work?
This name I’ve chosen from a post I liked on Instagram. I was thinking, I shall remember this post one day, and be reminded of all of these hours on the same road. Over and over again.

I was also wondering, do I really remember all the things I liked on social media while I was trying to be at some other places, not in the same bus every day. I wanted to make spot with all different media, to address how sometimes, we can all be overwhelmed with what we see in a sec, so I want people to revoke scenes and pictures, that once caught their eye and are important to them.

How did the concept of bus and riding a bus come about?
For nine months I was working in an art studio and my home was far away from work location. I was excited to take this job to learn more about fabrics and mediums. However, at one point my body started to reject some of them. I had bad allergies all the time and started to feel strange pain in my hands.  I was hoping it will stop but it just didn’t. Daily I was spending a lot of time in a bus. It was so frustrating. I couldn’t accept that so much of my time is wasted.

I was tired of the same journey, with all the strangers around. I needed escapism, so I drawn into Social Media. That discovery was crucial for this project. I had an epiphany – I wasn’t present and didn’t know where I am going. The Idea just came to me – I wanted to make THE BUS.

Did you actually fantasized about making this exhibition while you were riding a bus?
Once I decided that I want to create bus installation, everything was about it. I was observing space, elements inside, bus stops, sound… I photographed every station so I can have my journey data, my memories, let’s say, my diary. It felt as this idea was with me for a long time. The work on it came so natural and I loved it!

What was your thinking process like while preparing this exhibition?
It was so clear to me what I need to create. I was drawing and taking pictures of everything for months before I found out I will get bus parts. When I finally had everything in place, more than anything I wanted to optimize the gallery space the best that I can. Keeping the raw elements and sorting them like in the real bus, provided me an opportunity to tell my story. Such a fantastic feeling, I was able to recreate my inner and outside world from this daily trips. Now, I didn’t find these trips so useless, haha

We can see the elements of a real bus as a part of your exhibition. How did u get ahold of them?
That was the most challenging part! I like to use different mediums, and for a while I was using goods that were meant to be discarded or recycled. I had to have them for this project as well. I went to the place that only made sense at that point. I went to GSP (Belgrade Public Transportation Company), and then I got to know how difficult is to receive a piece of trash. I was not expecting it, to be honest! While I was reaching out to different institutions to get approval for a loan, I was seriously considering to cancel the show. I was very frustrated by the fact there is no support of art and cultural community. I was furious!

But Thank God, one of the lovely ladies I was in touch with, shared with me that all the waste is sent to the Recycling Center LLC Zeleznik, and I am so glad to say, people there were very open for cooperation, so they landed me some samples for the exhibition.

You’ve also created a music that is going in the background, can you tell us more about it?
For a long time I wanted to involve music in my work. This project seemed to be perfect for it. I needed to recreate the cacophony, the repetitive sound of this daily routines. However, I wanted it to be pleasant, and I didn’t want the recreation of the actual sound of a bus. I called up my great friend, DJ Greigus and just explained a feeling I need to create instead of sound that has to follow. He understood it so well, and sent me over perfect compilation for THINGS TO REMEMBER. I was in love with it.

We can see a lot of social media references (Instagram, WhatsApp). Why is that?
I love using social media references in my work. Using the real photos, my messages, and likes somehow break the concept of time and space. While scrolling on my phone while I am travelling, I already broke this concept.

Are you happy with the results of this exhibition?
Contemporary art, and I want to believe mine as well, reflects the reality, our surrounding and experiences. In that sense, I am very happy how it all worked out with this exhibition. I would humbly say, I am satisfied. It was very flattering, actually, how many people related to my story and identified with thoughts and reasoning behind the show.

While living in the present, we dream of being somewhere else. For the audience, knowing that we all do is confronting, since Instagram is escapism to most of us.

In the buses humans that are taking a ride play a big part. Why did you exclude humans from your work?
They were not excluded, in contrary. They became the part of my story by seeing the show. Some of people attending the show were actually with me on these trips. I created my story as a frame, and they completed it by coming and uploading their feelings, projections and reflections. I was avoiding an obvious conclusion and creating rather the vibe, than exposure of our daily time wasting.

You brought bus into a gallery space, but did you ever consider bringing something new to the bus?
I did think of it. One of ideas was inserting the rotating light on the bus, to see how fast (slow) you can get to places with bus during the traffic jam. Perhaps, create some video works, to make the journey more interesting or help the escapism even better!! More to come, stay tuned.

In your video work we see compilation of emojis? Do you believe that people have lost connection with their feelings due to emojis?
I do believe that people can fake feelings or perhaps control them better with emojis. However, I don’t think that they lost their connection with feelings. I hope not! As bus is usually full of people, there is no better place to observe how people actually feel. I think bus space is very specific in that sense. Catching the bus, making sure not to miss it, is so common for all passengers. They don’t put a lot of effort to hide their irritation, frustration. Bus somehow, seems to be place where we are all allowed to be angry if we need to, unsatisfied, anxious and maybe even scared. No faking, controlling or hiding emotions!

You have combined installations, objects, drawing and multimedia. How do you relate all those things together?
I am not worried very much about aesthetics. My main concern is combining, exploring mediums, fabrics, their juxtapositions and seeing where this can take me. Imagine how is it working this way, loaning bus waste and elements?

You never know how it will look like in the end, you simply cannot predict. So what? I love the process of anticipation of artwork, the way it can come out and I never thought It would!

Life nowadays is so fast, amount of information that we receive daily is my medium. It is what I truly want to use! This different approach gave my work a time limit. Like in the bus – sometimes the time passes fast and sometimes so slow. Therefore choosing photo prints from my phone and manually drawing what I saw is a good contrast. It tells a story what is original (from origin) and what is not.

Are you working on something new right now? What can we expect?
I always am! But let me scroll on Instagram a little bit further. Certainly, I will work on some new installation, made out of different mediums soon. I will work on my ongoing show as well. Let me please finish with Arshile Gorky’s quote, I think it makes this answer complete: “When something is finished, that means it’s dead, doesn’t it? I never finish a painting; I just stop working on it for while”. Such a brilliant mind.

See more at Gallery Zvono – www.galleryzvono.com
Follow Jovana on Instagram – @jovana.banjanac

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