Pheriphery / Heads / Tails
How many shapes and forms does the post-Yugoslav age have? That is a question often asked by its inhabitants. The artist Asim Đelilović tackles the symbolic level of this phenomenon with Periphery/Heads/Tails which depraves reinterpretation of government and life in former Yugoslavia, confronting them with their own leftovers. Or confronting them with what is NOT left of them today, to be more precise.
Đelilović (1964) is an assistant professor of Design at The Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo and is also a board member of the Sarajevo Green Design Festival. Being a designer, he has a visual approach to art, and in Periphery/Heads/Tails he uses design to intervene in items. Exhibition opened on 7th June this year at City Gallery Collegium Artisticum in Sarajevo and presents works called: Portraits, People's Hearts, War Lords, Behind Ideology and Cocacolanization. There are objects, installations, interventions with items (table, bed, trash-bin), photographs, digital prints, posters and assemblages, which reflect Đelilović's criticism towards local and regional post-Yugoslav transition towards global neoliberal capitalism.
Portraits and People's Hearts ''penetrate'' individual's internal world, with allegories of what is in their heads and hearts. Digital black and white prints called Trapped Mind (2011) and Earth of Which We Are Made of is Falling Apart… (2011) contain a medical scheme of a head full of barbed wire and a heart full of crumbled earth. The issue is clear: today's media and means of communication directly influence the human mind, they are overwhelming, filling up and they entrap the brain. People's Hearts (2000-2010) carries a similar message in a series of smaller objects in shape of the human heart and made of stone, clay, barbed wire, earth, branches, hay. The second vital human organ is also in danger. This work also contains documentation of the performance Hearts. A print shows candles set in shape of a human heart burning out in strong flames. This is another metaphor of personal ''burnout''.
With War Lords, Đelilović tackles meanings and consequences of globalisation and endangerment of cultural identities. A Short History of Bosnia (2000) is a hat stand with a fez hanging, a hat and a cap with the Nike logo, implicating the exchange of authentic local characteristics with global ones. The endangered old values are also presented in Sarajevo Surprise (1999-2000), a nest with two Kinder eggs inside with ''surprise'' written on them. This time he also alludes to the changes towards Nature, in the context of exchanging natural product with a ''colourful industrial lie''.
Behind Ideology also tackles the issue of drastic changes in the system of values. One of these works, from 1999 and without a name, shows a half-burned picture of Tito. The picture is half-burned with a massive Zippo lighter with the Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey logo, which is left opened underneath the picture. Tito's lower part is burned and only his head can be seen in the picture. Tito stands as a symbol of a defeated ideology, destroyed by the flames of a Zippo lighter, a symbol of the ''advanced'' and well-equipped American army. This comparison insists on criticism of neoliberalism which is swallowing old values of a different social organisation. The same issue is present in Cocacolanization. With play on words, (Coca-Cola and colonization become one word), artist uses this work to point out American, i.e. Western colonisation of other nations through their products and trade. Photo print American Red (2011) presents colonisation of human brain and invasion of American products. Through a star-shaped hole on the forehead and chest of a human figure, the brain and the heart are filled with Coca-Cola corks, packs of Marlboro cigarettes and Kodak batteries.
It is evident that by choosing straightforward examples, the artist questions meanings and implications of individuals who left their mark on the modern world. By comparing today's values with those from our recent history, he underlines problems brought on by neoliberalism, with an emphasis on American market and propaganda. The easiest mark in this ''conflict'' is the individual.
Let us focus on the question from the beginning and try to answer it. Today there are numerous suburbs and inside shapes and there is no person. Title of this exhibition Periphery/Heads/Tails immediately establishes the opposing positions, the personal and the individual are a trapped minority. They are out of reach amongst numerous suburbs and inside shapes. Human heart and brain are poisoned by such acceptance of these products. There is no room for humanity, personality, individuality, identity. This is Đelilović's point and this is what makes this exhibition so important.