"there is no longer such a place as home; except of course for the home we make, or the homes that are made for us (...): which is anywhere and everywhere, except the place from which we began."
Salman Rushdie, The Wizard of Oz
Croatian Rhapsody: Borderlands is a multimedia project that includes photography, works on paper, fiber art, digital collages, linocuts, video, text and sculptures.
Born in a country that no longer exists, having a passport from another, and living in a third, I made a sequence of seemingly unrelated pictures that were all taken by a large-format camera on film. Whether they are staged or straight, heavily altered or barely touched, these works fuse photographic genres and formal conventions to remember and forget, distance and reclaim the experience of becoming stranger in a place where I once belonged. Historically, the rhapsodic tradition anticipates the theme of a return-to-homeland. In ancient Greece, "rhapsodist" was the name given to a reciter of epic poetry, such as Homer was in his day. In both of Homer's major works, the hero finds the landscapes completely unrecognizable and shrouded in metaphorical mist after his return. In the nineteenth century, Franz Liszt popularized the style with his Hungarian Rhapsodies, which stemmed from his nostalgic return to his native country, which he describes as if he experiences it for the first time.
In addition to the national and political theme, rhapsody suggests a break from formally conventional expressions of nationality in the way it references, literally, a "stitched song." That is to say a rhapsody is fragmented, never seamless. My work is directly influenced by that tradition.
What these pictures share is a mute presence of callousness, violence, and anonymity. All of my subjects are marked by traces of trauma or exude a sense of being subjugated to power. The neatly arranged rows of barely noticeable lacerations on the back of male heads, the misplaced shadow of a plant in a visually overbearing interior, the microscopic cell samples of genocide victims, the grave intensity of a singing or shouting crowd are all images of ghosts and memories of the flesh, and each of them is fraught with suggestions of unspecified violence. The visual work is accompanied by a short story, in which I describe a female protagonist that descends from her village into a valley to participate in carnival festivities. Her experience is described using language that victims of rape used to describe their trauma.
In a world with over 500 million international migrants, redefining the meanings of national identity and cultural identification inevitably becomes a global process. Genetically and culturally, we can no longer be labeled as only one thing or another. Our national identities are much more complex than which country we hold a passport from.