Unprotected Witness no. 1: Afrodisiac (2019)
Museum of African Art - Veda and Dr. Zdravko Pečar Collection, permanent exhibition.
started in 2019 as the research project of three institutions – the Museum of African Art, Faculty of Fine Arts and Center for Museology and Heritology, two curatos – Jelena Spaić, Ana Knežević, one expert consultant – Milan Popadić and eight artists – Milica Rakić, Ana Adamović, Irena Kelečević, Ana Vujović, Ivana Ivković, Siniša Ilić, Milica Josimov & Saša Tkačenko.
The Unprotected Witness
is a museum object, a well-kept memorable substance exposed to artistic interpretation and reinvention. The first Unprotected Witness is interpolated in the premises of the permanent exhibition of the Museum of African Art – the Veda and Dr. Zdravko Pečar Collection (MAA). As a subtitle, Afrodisiac refers to the eponymous groundbreaking 1973 album by Fela Kuti and the beginnings of Afrobeat. The whole concept of the setting can be interpreted from the musical backdrop (the aforementioned Kuti and the song, Public Witness Program by Fugazi from their 1993 album) of political-artistic visions of Kuti and Fugazi, but also within the phenomenon of institutional critique that morphs into institutional chic.
Although it was conceived as an institutional critique, the Unprotected Witness No. 1: Afrodisiac
was shaped over the course of its realisation into a contextualisation of the MAA’s extended fields, that is, its Otherness. It developed a metonymic character as treatment of artistic poetics with MAU specificities, nurtured relations, but primarily with those aspects of the MAU that are simultaneously present and absent, with forms of anonymity and its spatial and temporal aspects. The current climate we live in of not opposing positions of power, the choice of artists who primarily do not engage in institutional critique, short-term research efforts, the imperatives of producing a new work, while remaining emphatic and sentimental towards the MAU as unique space in this part of the world and with insight into its preceding processes of auto-reflection, have reduced confrontation, radical and excessive artistic practices.
Afrodisiac interpolation is aesthetic reflection that questions the positions of observing the image of the Other/Otherness: the African continent through ideograms of safari, sex tourism, traditional religious rituals; the museum as multifaceted place; and within it the poetics of presence and absence; maps of the world as porous geopolitical construct; relations between the SFRY and African countries within the Non-Aligned framework and the heterotopia within it – the Veda and Dr. Zdravko Pečar collection.
Curators: Jelena Spaić (FLU) and Ana Knežević (MAU)
Expert consultant: Milan Popadić, PhD (CMiH)
Exhibition catalogue: MAU exhibition catalogues