CROATIAN RHAPSODY: BORDERLANDS
As an emigrant who spent the last fourteen years outside of my homeland, I wondered, if I were to rhapsodize about Croatia visually, what might that mean? I create an unusual album of seemingly unrelated images that fuses photographic genres and formal conventions, bodies and landscapes, objects and places, and oscillates between modalities of description and speculation. Following the rhapsodic tradition, I paint a picture of contemporary Croatia seen through the eyes of someone whose national and cultural identities have slowly become more and more complex.
This body of work consists of four chapters: Home Theater, Harry Black, Portraits and Marble Hill. Marble Hill is a real neighborhood in the Bronx where I live. The name also evokes a fantastical place reminiscent of a fairy tale. In this world, domestic spaces look like stage sets and intimate relationships are mere illusions created for a camera. Even moments of great tragedies appear to be theatrical. There is a loose formal and conceptual connections between chapters.
CHAPTER I: HOME THEATER
In Home Theater, I photograph domestic spaces in which sadomasochistic sex acts are taking place. These images grew out of my personal experience in which I solicited people on numerous sex websites where I presented myself as an S&M practitioner. Even though the images are of the actual, lived-in domestic spaces, they appear to be artificial, hyperreal, grand, and with a slightly distorted perspective, as if constructed as sets for a movie or a play. I am interested in the performance aspect of our daily lives. What particularly fascinates me is the idea of a domestic space as a "scene" in which we perform our daily routines. By photographing the homes of S&M practitioners in particular, and by contrasting the performance spaces with traditional domestic spaces, I ultimately questions the notion of the latter as something that is spontaneously, creatively designed or "authored" by us as individuals.
CHAPTER II: HARRY BLACK
In spring of 2011, I moved in with a complete stranger, an older gentleman-Harry Black. For months I photographed our relationship, creating a catalogue of images that resembled photographs one would find in a family photo album. I used photography and video to create an illusion of intimacy between two strangers. For the installation in the Bronx Museum, I recreated Black's living room, replacing all the photographs of Black's loved ones with the images of the constructed intimate relationship.
CHAPTER III: PORTRAITS
For this chapter, I turned my camera toward my family and friends. I placed the subjects in their bedrooms, posed them in classical poses and photographed them. In the resulting images, the models failed to fully realize the roles they should play in the intimacy of their bedroom spaces: they are anti-hype, anti-aesthetic and anti-pornographic. These are the figures we know much too well, the ones that stare back at us in the mirror, in private shots, and in our reflection in the window. In this way the everyday enters a world of myth. These photographs are presented as large-scale photo wallpapers and QR codes.
CHAPTER IV: MARBLE HILL
On the cover of the 1966 book "The Photographer's Eye" by John Szarkowski is a black and white photograph by an unknown author that shows the interior of an apartment. While working on Home Theater, I came across an interior that was a contemporary copy of the mentioned interior. Through a set of unfortunate circumstances, the apartment (that was just a few blocks from my apartment in the Marble Hill part of the Bronx, NY) burned down. I rebuilt the apartment as a scaled down diorama, lit it on fire and photographed it. All the photographs in this chapter originated, from my own version of "Alice in Wonderland"; almost as if the photographs were stills from a post-surreal motion picture. "Moments shown in the photos could occur during the burning of the apartment. Plausible tenants pose for the camera, like in some reality TV show, just moments before they ran out." - Leila Topic, a curator from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Croatia has written. Impression of theatricality of space and surrealism of the scene is enhanced by the play of the sizes of photographic enlargements, and awkward spatial relationships within the compositions.
PARTNERS IN CRIME
In rummaging through boxes of old wedding portraits at a midtown flea market I was intrigued to find that couples that were photographed in the Victorian era rarely, if ever, touched. I wondered what would happen if I reconstructed these portraits substituting same-sex couples for their hetero counterparts. I wondered too what would happen if I chose only those who had been together for years, ones who were almost painfully familiar, posing them in their own domestic spaces.