On 18, Jul 2016 | In Performance | By admin
Love and hate, attraction and repulsion, pain and lust, peace and war are concepts that, even though diametrically opposed to each other, are inextricably linked. One often leads to the other, one cannot exist without the other.
Marta Jovanovic’s performance Ljubav draws from these binaries, pulling them together in a performance that is deeply personal yet also highly historical. Set in the garden of the Swiss Embassy, which was built as a monument of peace during the Yugoslav Wars in 1993 by then-ambassador Benoit Junod. An elaborate concept of horticultural and landscape design is saturated with meaning and references to the history and politics of military conflict, especially of course the raging wars that were devastating the Balkans at that time. The war that grew out of century-old ethnic and religious convictions finds its resonance in the present day: thousands of refugees from countries in which one cannot see a future hope to find a better life along their trek through a region that was forever changed by a bloodshed not even 30 years ago.
Ljubav revives the memory of the conflict while also bringing to awareness the echoes that political, ethnical, or religious notions of superiority have and continue to have. Ultimately, it brings again to life a notion embedded in one of the myriad facets of the garden: “Le privilege des grands est de regarder les catastrophes depuis une terrasse”.
The bloodshed is mirrored, quite literally, in raw pig hearts, which will be the central part of the performance. The hearts, however, also connect the garden and the political aspect to the artist’s personal story of love and hate, pain and lust. What is at the core of our existence, yet hidden from view, is made visible. What is ubiquitous and easily used in everyday conversation, is made palpable. What is the universal symbol of love, is the strongest signifier of death.
Ljubav invites its audience to reflect on the emotional, historical, political, and cultural binaries in their lives and in how far two seemingly opposite concepts not only lie closely to each other to the point where they can’t be separated anymore, but also in how far one’s own convictions, ideals, expectations, even one’s own concept of love can severely hurt others.
Jovanovic literally puts herself on the spot in Ljubav and challenges the audience to interact with her in a way that brings both herself as well as the participants to their limits. Much in the tradition of Feminist Performance Art, she uses her own body as a tool and a site, on which her own and her participant’s personal histories, attitudes, expectations, and experiences as well as political and historical memories and events will play out. She transforms her own body into a canvas, into a space which is highly charged on the inside, yet blank on the outside. Therewith, Jovanovic references the typical position of women as the victims, and the ones expected to remain collected and strong in their appearance, no matter what turmoil might tear them apart in their hearts.
Anja Foerschner, Getty Institute Los Angeles, May 2016