THE OBSESSIVE FUTURE WITH A SHADOW OF AN OBSESSIVE PAST

The social system in which the eastern part of Europe spent the most of the second half of the twentieth century, with its rituals and its ideology, is obsessively turned towards the future. This forced “better future” has often been there just to avert eyes from the meager present. The ideal of the future is imprinted in the conscience of the maturing generation; on this way to “the golden age”, inevitably achievable, as the classics of Marxism used to say, the past is changed or forgotten. But, when the bureaucratized utopia shattered, the past came claiming its due, more or less mutated. At the Balkans probably more then in other parts of the former block.

Three-part layout of Dejan Kaludjerovic, consisting of elements that have been separately exhibited in other places, asks the question about the syntax of these three parts. In each part, the complex relations between the present and the past are being visually essayed. However, only as a whole, heterogeneous in medium, it brings attention to Kaludjerovic’s main subject – the position of an individual in the hurricane of big words and historical events that cancel out the personality.
The Boy – which means going down to the past, to a distant moment – will be strong (when he grows up) because he has to be strong. It is a stereotype, an imperative – because the future belongs to the strong. On this way of coming of age, he will, sooner or later, face the social heritage, everything that has been hidden from his eyes, and everything that will repeat, just because of this hiding, among other things. Seemingly innocent children’s song (the one that turns the war into a joke) comes from a screen dressed in camouflage uniform – the ultimate Balkan fashion hit of the 90’s – surrounded with innumerous pairs of footwear. The shoe, a slipcover for the foot, is one of the rare parts of garment that keeps its shape even when it is not in use. The cavity, the hole, with or without the laces, always contains an invisible man – the one who left, or even more likely, died, got hurt, disappeared... And so, this forest of shoes, this multiplied presence of the dead, reminds us of the constant danger of unsolved nodes of the history. The invisible shoe people wait for their opportunity (maybe even the one they will be given by the media) to come back and take new innocent victims.

The work “What did tomorrow bring us?”, the third part of the triptych, seems to come from quite another sphere – the intimate. The scene is idyllic, frozen, supported with relaxing sound. Focused observer, however, will not miss “the error” – the symmetry of details in the back indicates that it is a montage. Two different times were joined into one. This manipulation, this false (maybe desired) scene takes us back to a certain sphere, not suggested at the first sight – a domain of ideological manipulation of visual data. Even before the computer programs made photograph tempering available to everyone, the Soviet scientists brought the photomontage of documentary shots to perfection.
After WWII, this skill was passed on to other communist countries – the photographic “evidence” of the history changed in the same way the history was changing under the pressure of ideological change. As a certain member of Politburo fell into disfavor, his face would disappear from the group photographs, the new edition of history schoolbooks differed from the old ones. The procedure known in Rome as “damnatio memoriae” spread into the past: a face had to disappear from the photographs made decades ago. Almost every Eastern European country is familiar with this practice. Probably the most bizarre example is one in Albania. On the photograph taken before WWII, a group of young communists is positioned in two rows: the ones that are closer to the camera are sitting, and the other row is standing. The retoucher had removed the upper part of a standing figure that has fallen into disfavor, the part that is arising behind the front row. He forgot, however, to remove his feet – they had remained as a bizarre testimonial, a trace of the attempt to change the past. Works of Dejan Kaludjerovic, in whatever medium they may be, have a particle of warning – they shed light on emphasized, polished phenomenon, and in fact, they warn us that in every situation there are those phantom feet, this accidental, unwanted clue that reveals an attempt to cheat the history.

Mileta Prodanovic, 2003