Language and voice are the main tools used by Katarina Zdjelar (Belgrade, 1979) in her work. They offer both a material for investigation and a means of orientation in her exploration of Contemporary society. For it is within language that notions such as identity, authority or community converge, and through language, with its normative function and imaginative potential, that the (non) assimilation of the individual in a social setting, and sometimes foreign environment, comes to the fore.
Even though Zdjelar’s work has so far centered on the moving image and sound, on this occasion we have decided to add two new elements that further emphasize the multidimensionality underlying her practice.
Both works follow her line of reflection on the meaning of language, either highlighting power relations and traces of colonialism, as in the case of the advertisements – also the image of the show- , or bringing to the fore the characteristic sense of humour present in all Zdjelar’s works, as in the case of the recipes.
In the first instance the work consists of a series of public advertisements from Ghanaian newspapers that hark back to the era of Dutch colonial rule with its penchant for renaming. They show how having a foreign name came to be a token of belonging to the country’s intellectual and economic elite, a badge of prestige and social superiority.
In the second instance the exhibition shows a set of recipes showing how to make tasty dishes from the limited ingredients that were supplied by humanitarian aid in the 1990s during the wars in former Yugoslavia. These concoctions simulate real recipes in form alone, in an effort to create a sense of normality.
While sound and voice have always been a key element in the artist’s interest in social conditions for and relation between receiving a voice and having a voice, music has gained increasing significance in her artistic practice. Her videos examine the role that music has played in the configuration of political spaces— both physical and metaphorical.
In this understanding music as a generator of contexts and identities and a producer of cultural and symbolic capital, the artist was especially interested in a particular property and manifestation of so called 'Basque Radical Rock’ movement. What captured Zdjelar’s attention was this particular shift by which some bands from the movement decided to sing in the Basque language, as opposed to those who continued to sing in the Spanish language even though the Basque language entered in its post-illegality faze. Without necessarily speaking the language themselves, those bands were performing to and with the audience who equally and unavoidably didn't have the Basque language proficiency, but nevertheless it didn’t prevent them from engaging in it and participating.
The result of this investigation will be seen in her new video "Aitormena. World jautsitsaitsutsitsaitsugunea".
Therefore, with all this new body of work Katarina Zdjelar once again addresses the subject of ‘translation’ as a space for making language (in)comprehensible, or as subject capable of generating insoluble (social, historical or semantic) terrains.
Likewise, she continues her investigation of the meta-languages that emerge out of contexts requiring the use of a new language which, whether completely unknown or only partially learned, undergoes a dislocation through its utilization. The results of her research are presented in this exhibition; together with a selection of earlier pieces they show how every space of digression may contain a niche
… “Of More Than One Voice”.