Shoelaces are Undone and Zagor against Zagor
By Naomi Hennig, 2011
Published in Spaceship Yugoslavia - The Suspension of Time, NGBK, Berlin, 2011
Damir Radović's work draws from those fluctuating patterns that make up identity and memory, often involving graphic symbols, places references and maps, fragments from popular culture and mysterious messages.
These elements seem to gravitate around an intangible and empty center, to which they unavoidably and repeatedly return. The black outline of Bosnia and references to the city of Sarajevo keep recurring, while the Balkan boy enters the symbolic stage as a self-questioning ironic alter ego. Through the manifold signifiers, and pictorial and textual fabrics we are offered a glimpse of the past, even though many questions initiated by these works remain unanswered.
For the NGBK exhibition, Radović presents a new version of his work Shoelaces are Undone. A tent in the exhibition space serves as a temporal habitat for the artist ; turned into an instrument of construed lightness, it is freed from the weight of territory. Inside we find various everyday objects, dishes, newspapers, and a radio, producing the individual comfort zone of the artist-nomad. On the occasion of the exhibition opening, coffee and alcohol will be shared with visitors.
A TV set plays the video Zagor against Zagor. This Italian comic hero, extremely popular in the former Yugoslavia, appears at the start of the clip. The accompanying dialogue originates from the last sequence of the famous Partisan-classic Walter Defends Sarajevo *
Colonel : "Since I have been in Sarajevo, I have been looking for Walter, but couldn't find him. And yet, as I am leaving, I know who he is."
Geman officer : "You know who Walter is ?! Tell me his name right away !"
Colonel : "I will show him to you... You see this city ? That is Walter."
Another work by Damir Radović appears as a banner installation on the façade of the NGBK gallery building. Replacing the usual exhibition advert banner, this display functions as an extension to the gallery space, and at the same time as a theme for the show. The messages presented to the lively Oranienstrasse reflect changes within the artist's environment and place of origin. "No more, no more" is rendered into an elegy on a past and distant country. The present day of the Yugoslavs - those vanished and gone, and yet to be found all over the world - seems transfixed between the statement of loss and the prophecy of near events. Between festive decoration, agitprop and humorous intervention, these messages do not allow a clear focus, but they do boldly address a blind spot.
* Valter brani Sarajevo (Walter Defends Sarajevo), Yugoslavia, 1972