Text for the exhibition Architecture of Memory/Inner Landscape
Author: PhD Predrag Terzic

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Reflections from Damaged Life

The system initially signifies only a certain way of interrelation; in addition to that, the biologist’s term of system requires that none of the parts outside the context is what it represents within the context. Quite simply: Stuffed heart is not the heart of the living body.
Burghart Schmidt

When we talk about the heart and the system, we can say that the heart of the living body in Serbia has been stuffed for a long time, and that the system is turned towards a single goal: personal survival. In this environment it is very difficult to find a dose of optimism for a better tomorrow. To some extent, the environment in which we live can be compared with the problem of John Murdoch, from the movie Dark City, who suddenly wakes up in a city where he is charged with murder he did not commit. In a city where Strangers (Daemons-Strangers) control everything, from changing of urban environment (which in the film changes in a specific time cycles), working in it, to attempting to grab the memory of every citizen, and where they are altering it, so that everything comes to the end point of the occupation of Strangers: human spirit.

What is happening now is a system that says everything is permitted. It is allowed to change, construct, demolish, concrete, remove, pull, in a system that is in love with short-term habits, in a system where the excitement that is not related to anything appears, where the fake feelings of being emotionally touched fail. The past is taken here only as a need to justify the system. Out of necessity and its sheer performance does not benefit either the past or the future. Only instant gratification and the need to repeat something that was not deviated from the passage of time and from the present. A futile wish to build, create, make the Grail castle. Knowledge of the Grail castle has nothing to do with the earlier, the previous elsewhere, nor with this new, today. So here we come to the myth of Parsifal and his views of the new building; neither was it the old castle, nor was Parsifal the same as when he first saw it.

In their new works, Svetlana Volic and Nina Todorović examine and record the previous states (imprints of old houses in Nina’s works), the new situation (covering the facade of the building in Svetlana’s works) and memory that is very important for the final judgment. The judgement that faces the possibility of residence, which was destroyed by the reality of the new system that has become the accident that is stalking a civil society. In this space, which is located within the system between out-put and in-put, nothing interesting happens. The void in which one tries to survive and at the same time does not look at what happens between the out-put and the in-put, but just tries to take care to stay on the surface. Events that occur in the system over the out-put and the in-put are mixed, rapid, distracted, ground in that exchange so that an individual who is in the interspace cannot respond adequately and is facing oblivion.

Through their works, both artists are trying to break away from oblivion, through memory and a different perception that suddenly appeared. While Nina Todorović deals with exploration and attempt to capture all those houses that have had their character and emotion within the area in which they were made, Svetlana Volic, awoken in her apartment building that was wrapped in cloth, is trying to understand the situation that she suddenly appeared in. In other words, their attempt to record is on the track of what Charles Moore in his work always had in mind: Buildings must be such that the human bodies and mind can reside in them, they have to establish connections with the past and evoke memories.

And in our reality houses and buildings are built with the same intensity, but it is getting more and more noticeable that architects are running out of imagination, as if the buildings come up with the slogan: Hooray, I have no idea (I have not got a clue)! Buildings are increasingly becoming like the open work of art, and so they draw attention by reminding the viewer of something that is vaguely familiar and understandable. Like a scene from the film Dark City, in which one of the citizens is asked by Murdoch for a certain street, and how to reach it; he is told that the citizen knows where that street is, it is very familiar to him, but he cannot explain him how to get there. In addition to our changing environment, the memory of the specific place is also being changed, affecting our own memory, which over time becomes weaker and eventually disappears. In other words, it appears to be a situation of forced identification with the built environment, because there is no time for adjustment. By the aforementioned, procedure architecture courses to grandeur and tries to solve its noticeable problem by taking an interest in the sublime.

However, this superiority is more about a mere quest for greatness, where infinity and fragmentation is taken away from it. Cold arrangement of the surrounding area and set up of the green space which emphasises the monumentality of the object, only further highlights the disconnection between rich materials that were used and a large expenditure of labour, as well as the concentration of public attention in social life. By this procedure it can only be achieved that the greatness gets ridiculous from the start. To use Adorno’s words, in the fake there is no real life.

With their action, Svetlana Volic and Nina Todorović are setting the rules and new meanings which do not tend to the labelled, but to the means of labelling, therefore from the realised function of the sign to observing the sign itself. In other words, we get their exclusive focus, not on questions about reality, but on the way in which reality is produced as a value-neutral.

PhD Predrag Terzić