Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Art Space Talk: Dejan Kaludjerovic

Dejan Kaludjerovic received his MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts of Belgrade in 2004, he also studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and at the Academy of Applied Arts, Vienna, in Erwin Wurm's class. Dejan's work often deals with how the mass media, fueled by Western influence, can manipulate individuals and groups into altering their cultural landscape-- changes that often have negative results. He is currently based in Vienna.

Love & Rockets / from the series Can I Change My Career for a Little Fun? / from the cycle The Future Belongs to Us I, 2007, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 160 cm

Brian Sherwin: Dejan, tell us about your educational background. Do you have formal training in art? If so, who were your instructors?

Dejan Kaludjerovic: Yes I have a formal training in art. In 1993 -94 I was studying part time at the SVA NYC. From 1994-96 was studying at Applied art Academy in Belgrade and from 1996 – 2004 I was studying at Fine Art Academy where I obtained my BFA and MFA (my professors were Cedomir Vasic and Mileta Prodanovic). Also I had one-year specialization at Viennese Angewandte Akademie with Professor Erwin Wurm as my mentor.

BS: What can you tell us about your early artistic influences and experiences? At what point did you know that you wanted to study art?

DK: Already as a little boy I was very creative. I wanted to try lots of things; imitating, singing, acting… Being very emphatic as a person I started to get interested in social sphere of society and when I was eleven years old I decided I would like to be a painter. I chose my high school according to that but I also attended courses in painting after school.
Bite a Carrot, Bunny! / from the cycle The Future Belongs To Us I, 2004, acrylic on canvas, 220 x 180 cm

BS: With that said, how has your work advanced since those early years?

DK: With education my work progressed in several ways. Getting formal training in the field of arts I could address my ideas with more ease. Knowledge about contemporary art helped to develop my concepts, but I have to make a special emphasis on the social sphere that influenced my work greatly. Growing up during the tearing up of former Yugoslavia, I experienced some extreme situations that influenced my work and me as a person in consequence. Growing up in Belgrade in the 80’s was also a very important influence on me and my work, as at that time a lot of things were happening in music, contemporary theatre, art, films, etc.

At that time Belgrade was a place where most important art and cultural events from east and west side of the world were presented and that made a great impact on my formative years. Afterwards I experienced the breakdown of the socialist system and later moved to the West, where I experienced all of the prejudices aimed towards people coming from Yugoslavia. This is a very important question/problem for me.

Through my own experience of the Western world’s looking on other parts of the globe, I as a person, but also as an artist, have gotten an intimate knowledge about the construct of how the West sees Yugoslavia is based on a very superficial knowledge and an hypocritical wish to help "others" only by adapting them to itself.

Miss60/ from the series Can I Change My Career for a Little Fun?
/ from the cycle The Future Belongs To Us I, 2007, acrylic on canvas, 160 x 160 cm

BS: Dejan, can you go into detail about your artistic process? How do you begin a piece? When do you know that a piece is finished?

DK: Most of my work is based on images taken from the mass media, mostly photographs published in magazines. For my working process selection of photographic material is crucial and it is done in several stages. The selected images are than arranged and rearranged in a computer program and merged with images taken from cartoon frames (these is related to paintings I have been doing for the last 2 years).
The painting is in some way already preconceived even before I start to paint it, as the sketch is done with the help of the computer program. From these small sketches I make a big sketch on paper that is the size of the canvas format. To get the wanted effect of the industrial looking painting, I transfer the sketch to the canvas with the help of the indigo paper.
I feel that painting is a way of intimate, intellectual, emotive communication between me and the canvas. When the conversation ends – but it does not end in a raw way and everything that needed to be said has been said - than I know that the painting is finished.

BS: Dejan, how does current world events influence your work? In other words, how does contemporary life impact your creative practice?

DK: On one level my work is not directly related to current world events. It is not my intention to bring daily events into my work. What I am interested in is relationships between people, individual and mass, how mass thinks and works – therefore I would say that contemporary life does influence my creative practice, but not directly via daily political or economical events but more the essence that can be read or understood from it. In that framework I am especially interested in patterns of behavior and questions of responsibility.

BS: Can you tell us more about the philosophy behind your art?

DK: In my work I deal with questions of responsibility, moral (especially emphasizing the problem of a double-faced moral or hypocrisy), truth, love, manipulation, the dichotomies of visible vs. invisible / hidden vs. revealed / natural vs. unnatural / spontaneous vs. constructed / past vs. present.

Since my earliest works, I have been dealing with the problematic of the mass media communication by using the techniques of drawing, painting, photography, print and video. The theme that occupies me is the problem of the exploit of children and the image of a child for commercial purposes.

My intention is to make one think through the process of increased awareness of the existence of the devious development of the collective consciousness and the patterns of behavior, which in the present time, more than ever, are intensified through violence, confrontation or war. The phenomenon of violence and fear also interests me as well as the relation of the society towards these categories. (What is particularly interesting and horrific at the same time is that violence and fear became a need and a form of entertainment.)

Since 2004 I have been working on a project called Europoly – The European Union Identity Trading Game. Europoly in its unique way deals with the problematic of the present day European identity, possible tensions (e.g. social, cultural, moral, and philosophical) between the two categories of „EU" and „non EU".

BS: Why did you choose to work in the mediums that you use?

DK: My concepts are transformed through various mediums, but the basis for it, is always a drawing or a photograph. I always use mediums according to the concepts of my works. Different concepts are chosen according to the best possible way to transfer it to the viewer/user.

BS: Dejan, what is your studio like? Can you go into detail about your studio routine?

DK: My studio is vast, with lost of light. In it there is a sofa, large table, lots of books and magazines, Internet connection and music. Sometimes I listen to music; sometimes I even dance in the course of painting, because many times I am really happy when painting, but on the other hand sometimes I feel in a very contemplative state and work in silence.

BS: What are you working on at this time?

DK: At this time I am working on my new video work, finishing the pre-production stage; and as this is the first art work that I am doing together with my new gallery from Ljubljana, I am quite happy about it. The work is quite complex. Because It is dependent on several factors how the result is going to be and for me this is very exciting. In the video my idea is to have a child (ideally 8-10 years old) singing a specific song "Je suis malade" originally sang by an adult performer Dalida expressing everlasting issues of longing, woman in love, woman in pain caused by love, woman disappointed, woman rejected…

Also I was invited by the Austrian embassy in Holland to produce my work Europoly as a portable game version and distribute it through schools in Netherlands. I am very happy about it because this work of mine is socially and politically engaged; it talks about the "new European identity" trying to enlighten the invisible people among us i.e. the immigrants. Its aim is to enter into most intimate spaces of families but also – as in this case – into educational system. For those reasons I am adapting this art project of mine into a German version.

Besides that of course I am also working on my new paintings and drawings, which will continue to explore the questions that I am involved with.

BS: What can you tell us about your recent exhibits? Where can our readers view your work? Also, do you have anything planned for 2008?

DK: Two months ago I’ve had a very important solo exhibition in the Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade which I am very satisfied with and in this year also two solo exhibitions in Istanbul and Vienna. Because of that now is the time for me to reflect on all the previous activities and exhibitions, but that is very hard. I have just returned from Linz, where I participated at a group exhibition dealing with questions of collective and individual memories.
In January a painting of mine which was bought for the permanent collection of the City of Belgrade will be exhibited. Besides that I am having two important solo exhibitions – one of them in May in Ljubljana (Gallery Ganes Pratt) and the other one at the end of 2008 in Berlin (Gallery Blickensdorff). A preview of my work can also be seen on my webpage

BS: In your opinion, what are some of the problems facing artists today?

DK: As I see it the art world today is so interwoven with corporate capital and because of that things are strictly controlled. We live in a time of total political correctness and there is no freedom in art, but maybe that is the way it always has been.
Keine Angst vor kleinen Tieren / from the series The Future Belongs To Us III, 2004, stills from video installation, duration 66 min, loop

BS: Dejan, the internet is changing how we discover and view art. Many artists have stated that personal websites and networking sites have allowed them to represent themselves without the help of others. In your opinion, how have sites like empowered artists?

DK: I do not think that sites like have empowered artists, but they did provide a possibility for exchanging contacts and meeting people so that they can communicate and cooperate in a global world.

BS: Finally, what are your goals as an artist? What do you hope to accomplish with your work?

DK: My goal as an artist is to keep doing just what I am doing for the rest of my life. In the first place I would like to surprise myself and because of that I hope for my art and I as an artist too keep changing. I also hope to achieve a stage where I will be able to have bigger and better production possibilities so that I will be able to realize my ideas and concepts as I see them fit.

With my work I want to intrigue the public to get them to think about some things that they maybe did not think before and on the other hand to make them a bit ashamed. With my work I try to problematize the notion of just one possible way of viewing and understanding an image, and this is one of the reasons why I am making paintings or videos.
In everyday surroundings we are not aware of the ideologies that are embedded into the images and we understand images as self-evident. When they are put into different contexts – namely the context of contemporary art – we view and understand them in a different way as our attention is oriented solely towards them.
You can learn more about Dejan Kaludjerovic by visiting his You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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