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Indepth Arts News:

"Vesna Pavlovic: Sculpture Gardens"
2003-09-13 until 2003-11-01
Washington, DC, USA United States of America

This will be the Belgrade-based artist’s second solo exhibition at Fusebox. Vesna Pavlovic’s latest body of work is based on an inter-disciplinary project, initiated in summer 2002, which culminated in a series of photographs presenting the private Vlach gardens of Eastern Serbia. In the Balkans’ history, the Vlach people have become 'invisible' in the academic and public discourse due to their politically non-aggressive position, their ability to quietly exist beside other, more dominant, ethnic groups, and their tradition of economic migration for much of the year.

In this way, they have developed specific methods of preserving their cultural identity, including absorbing elements from their host cultures. These gardens have significant meaning in the cultural identity of the Vlach. They are a visual pastiche of imagery seen in other, ‘Western,’ societies, but translated into the Vlachs’ own cultural codes. The gardens exist around largely uninhabited mansions, since their owners are away during most of the year. These gardens can be seen as a culture written in space, testimonials that their absent inhabitants are still present. In addition, for an ethnic group with no written language, this visual representation has become the dominant model to ‘speak,’ not only to their own people, but also to their broader cultural surroundings.

Historically, formal gardens are known for their sophisticated narratives, a fusion of nature and culture. They are idyllic leisure places, hidden oases protecting their inhabitants from the evils of the outside world. At the same time, they are pseudo-mythological creations, projecting the power and refinement of their owners. These places are at once open and closed, deeply intimate but exposed to the public eye—functioning both as invitation and barrier.

Jelena Vesic, August 2003

This September, Vesna Pavlovic will participate in a four-month residency program at Location One in New York. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, including the Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade; Museum of History, Yugoslavia; The Goethe Institute, Munich; and Galerie Le Lys, Paris. Pavlovic´’s group exhibitions include Innocent Life, Center for Contemporary Art, Vilnius, Lithuania; Freedom and Violence, Krolikarnia, Warsaw; L’Imperatif Pornagraphique, (video projection) Centre Pompidou, Paris; Dossier Serbie, Akademie der Kunste, Berlin and Wein; and Moving Walls, The Open Society Institute, New York.

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