The search for utopia and meaning

The search for utopia and meaning

Alice in Wonderland, the archetypal story about a surreal and symbolic journey through the sub conscious and dreams in which the world of human fears, desires, frustrations and neurosis becomes reality which authentically interprets our practice and everyday, real life – is the basic narrative or “dramaturgic frame” of the art of Jana Stojaković.

If we add some notions of Dream, Sub conscious, Identity, Mirror, Mask, Simulation, Prosthesis, Illusion, Cyborg, Body, Control and Decay to this archetypal “dramaturgical fable” of a Journey, we will get structural notions which thematize the meaning of Journey itself whilst dystopian spaces of hospitals, asylums and decrepit, urban landscapes, define a social background of a search for personal Utopia and Meaning. Jana’s poetical methods refer to classical figurative and post figurative painting, in genres of collage, photography – portrait, installation, and video. The visual language of her works synthesises the poetic experiences of classical, symbolic painting, surrealism and metaphysical painting, practices of contemporary sub cultural design and “editing of attractions”, contemporary mass media, popular culture, and aesthetics of genre film (horror and trash art) and performance art.

Throughout history, visual artists have explored domains of dream. Bosch or Bruegel’s triptych scenes undoubtedly originate from nightmares as well as numerous scenes of martyrdoms in monastery painting and they remind us of erotic dreams combining onirism and illusion. In his paintings, H.Bosch offered a completely unusual, imagined world filled with characters and shapes from his imagination which completely opposed the universe of divine order and canonic harmony of his contemporaries. With his phantasmagoria of amorphous shapes, Bosch produced biomorphous abstractions by dusk paintings of dreams, omens and visions. From these metaphysical paintings of dreaming he emphasized the relationship between sub conscious and artistic act.

Relying on this kind of tradition in classical painting, in a series of her works, Jana creates scenes and figures of the Cyborg, paintings as Ilizar’s fixator, etc. which present people in a dramatic way, coalesced with modern technological and industrial prostheses that supersede modern man’s loss of basic humanity. Jana’s scenarios and pictures present the human body as an “operational battlefield” and its deformations, butchering, prosthesis and suffering are a result of confrontations among the Body, its Cravings, Propulsions and systems of Control, Adaptation and Supervision.

After researching the fascinating and marvelous realms of dreams of early 20th century art, modern figurative painting, with its broken shapes, penetrating into hidden meanings of dreams suppressed to the depths of unconscious. The tension between reality and illusion underpinned by psychoanalysis in art is turned into collage in cubistic painting. Modern painting, with its ability to confront and unite completely different objects, by giving to the paint two, three or more points of view, is a perfect way for creating fantastic worlds, similar to dreams. These worlds originated through importing new methods and unfamiliar elements like newspaper articles, photographs, prints, into the tissue of composition and ontology of art. Collage enables a visual game in which illusion and reality mix realms of real and unreal. The invention of collage coincided with the invention of film. Jana’s collages, as 21. Century, Body, are inspired by these kinds of art practices and her need for dynamic language and transformative, kinetic potentials, dramatic movement of space and time as an equivalents of “logic” and dream tension. This is realized in videos Schizoid dream of body and Anubis’ mummification.

In the beginning of the 20th century, when metaphysical art builds meta historical reality, exchanging space with things, logic with absurdity, and reality with dream, avant garde film produces an aesthetic of editing, Freudian psychoanalysis becomes important and the work of dream, an analogy of the artistic process of creation, a call for artists to submerge as deep as possible into the unconscious. However, only one movement took this dive into the subconscious to its ultimate consequences to explore the hallucinating nature of painting, photography, film and dream – surrealism.

Surrealists claimed that we saw only reality on the surface but that it is more important to discover the reality which, as Freud claimed, exists in the deeply rooted secrets and cravings of the unconscious, in a register of suppresses desires, dreams and phantasms. Surrealists wanted to open the spaces that we carry inside ourselves and in which we bury the weighty issues of the civic, real, everyday world. Open up the unconscious and show it to people. Painting has become a means to release unconsciousness, as well as collage, abstract forms, photography and film. Breton’s Manifesto from 1924 proposed several ways to delve into the subconscious and express the functioning of undirected thought, mostly by means of the stimulating use of dream scenes, visions suggested by the intuitive and emotional, an artistic creation liberated from conscious control and a stream of incoherence linked by culturally unbounded objects. A new meaning for something which passes through consciousness is created by free associations, emphasizing unconscious as an authentic truth.

This unusual, different and shocking world penetrates Jana’s imagined in order to make a strange realism, creating by this means, ideal confusion which changes things in a similar way to dreams. In dreams, all analogies are possible. Playing with elements of visions, dreams and memories, Jana Stojaković is aware that beside civic society and its formalizations, conventions and restrictions, in the contemporary age, the Body is represented through the unconscious and surreal.

The series of photographs Alice behind a glass darkly and the series Glamorous prosthesis could be related to Lacan’s “mirror stage”, the point in a person’s life when difference is inserted as the core of identity, when the subject is permanently covered with its picture. This sort of “dimension of self fiction” shows that Ego is a fruit of misunderstanding and a subjective alienation from itself.

Dragan Jovanović