Completely natural.

cargo_cult/oases
As we move around the city, we see a multitude of common, mundane, mass-produced objects. Piles of newspapers, t-shirts, lighters, jeans… which blend into patterns, into entireties with or without meanings, piles the eye only glances at cursorily, looking for the one thing we need, or striving to forget the image as soon as possible. With exactly the opposite process of recording, instead of looking away, and therefore forgetting, Stojanović’s photographs, taken in unnamed cities in different parts of the world, take us back and remind us of the trivial existence and its inevitability which defies oblivion. The eye is resisting the truthfulness of these photographs not because they present scenes which are unreal or repulsive, but because they present what we are familiar with, what surrounds us, but what we overlook while we generalize the triviality of reality, constantly trying to make it better or at least bearable. This is a mass reality, while the hyper-production, allegedly motivated by real human needs, has long ago become its own goal, pledging for maintaining a system within the society of advanced capitalism.

When we speak about global hyper-production, we use the term as inadvertently as we would go over endless racks filled with goods which is same in Amsterdam, Ljubljana, Negotin or Casablanca, whose purpose we never fully understand and whose necessity we never question, because it has become so usual, “socialized” and naturalized that it seems unnecessary, or even futile to do so. On the other hand, when cargo contents, i.e. numerous plastic wigs, copies of branded sneakers and synthetic shirts or neatly stacked jumpers waiting for those they’re intended for, become subjects of photographs, we suddenly start treating them as wondrous. A feeling of cheap commodity fetish is created, a Camp of infatuation with worthless, an almost bizarre author’s passion for the ordinary in an extraordinary place, for multitude of copies instead of originals, for bad, redundant and ugly before the good, necessary and beautiful. However, the feeling is a trap, because what lies beneath these photographs is an impartial presence, an insistence on perceiving the reality without the usual mechanisms we use in an attempt to formulate the real, to represent it, to position it symbolically and determine it semantically.

The representation in each of the photographs of the cargo_cult series is directed only towards the representation of multitude, in a sense that multitude represents itself completely insensitive to the possibility of becoming something more. In this way, truthfulness is generated, the truth about the society we didn’t ask for, which we avoid facing and refuse to accept as our own, in which we exist and which we renew and continue. By giving up the privilege of being the wise explorer’s eye, a genius that sees what others cannot, the photographer’s eye becomes our eye, but the closed one. To be conscious, political or right, we must reject the superfluous, false, cheap and toxic, and that is the one thing cargo_cult doesn’t allow us to do, by focusing on and normalizing the distracting and the marginalized from reality.

Stojanović deals with nature in oases series in exactly the same way he approaches the artificial, the goods, i.e. machine or hand-made artifacts. Natural scenes mediated by (re)production are found in eleven photographs, while one contains a real landscape. The expected nature, i.e. nature in it non-mediated form doesn’t exist, and what’s left of it are idealized notions and productional aesthetic requirements for what real, unadulterated nature should look like. By photographing new, created (not given) landscapes, images of nature which appear inside a society on facades and buses, as vignettes or decorative elements in homes, Stojanović reaches the concept of oases, the sad tropes of a capitalist fantasy about the prehistoric stage of Nature which doesn’t exist anywhere in its pure form and is impossible to adequately reconstruct or represent. In oases, Adorno’s “second nature” isn’t just modified by human knowledge and actions, but also by new processes of production which are, paradoxically, motivated by the quest for the first, “real” Nature, nature as itself, which has been destroyed and is again getting lost in the field of complete abstraction, only appearing before us as a much deformed cultural memory of what nature is (was) and what it should be.

Through oases, by recording the society, Stojanović also records nature and thus detects the modern society’s need to reconstruct and recreate Nature, but at the same time, he perceives the internal conflict of that need. In fact, the reinvention of Nature (as is the case with tradition, past or nostalgia after all) isn’t motivated by a primordial want, or by a poetic individual’s wish for uniting with nature, the search for the truth, pureness, or even escapism; it is a need to justify and legitimize Society with nature which exists or used to exist per se, marking the zero point, the primal state, the sublime fact and the absolute of neutrality. Nature doesn’t need humans, but humans, and especially the capitalist society, need Nature in order to establish and sustain the order they insist upon, which is based on often incomprehensible strong and inexplicable laws of nature. Although they look like a pair of opposites at first sight, the motifs of nature in society – the foil with a pattern of forest or a mountain glade on an office building glass, or a deer peacefully grazing on the left wing of the city bus’s chassis – are where they belong, perfectly doing their function, convincing us that going to work, accumulating wealth or humbly and politely using the civilization’s attainments such as public transport, are completely natural, real and inevitable like sunset and sunrise.

Oases unmistakably uncovers (discovers) and exposes the civilizations aspiration to come closer to the naturalness of nature, the aspiration which unveils itself solely through society, the society of liberal capitalism and its laws. When, on the final photograph of the oases series named “Man in a Natural Habitat” (taken in national park Tangier in Morocco), Man finally appears, directly present in nature, the image feels repulsive, artificial, incomplete, facing us with our need to binary juxtapose Nature and Society, the two realities excluding each other, but existing simultaneously. The natural habitat is no longer nature, and our inability to perceive Society as natural and Nature as “socialized” and cultural puts nature into an abstract and perfectly complete world of fantasy for eternity, into an oasis, where the presence of a real everyday man makes for a mistake, a glitch and an excess.

Marko Stojanović’s approach in cargo_cult and oases series aestheticizes, with photographic precision, professionalism and inexorability, the melancholy of glistening and shiny surfaces of advertising and decorative images of nature, the solitude of endless amounts of objects waiting for a proprietor to invent them through ownership, the neglect of souvenirs or the chipped visions of something which is supposed to be ideal. This approach makes a turn in relation to reality we are deeply immersed in and generates affect instead of objective insight. The inanimate world of cargos and artificial oases acquires human qualities despite the persistent absence of Humans who announce themselves through them, both as a cause and an effect. Although the two series of photographs represent two key pillars of capitalism – mass hyper-production and tendency to identify itself through the laws of nature, they do not do it in an ironic, derisive manner, but they resist giving judgements on these social processes. Instead, they make them invisible and leave space for spectators to face the absurdity of social reality in which they are participants, as is the author himself. And in this free, unmarked space of confusing and contradictory affects that these images invoke in spectators, lies the space for (self)reflection, critical deliberation on society and generating of politics.

Marija Ratković

Translation: Željko Maksimović

Sasvim prirodno.

kargo_kult/oaze
Dok se krećemo gradom, vidimo mnoštvo običnih svakodnevnih masovno proizvedenih objekata. Gomile novina, majica, upaljača, farmerki, koje se stapaju u šare, celine sa ili potpuno bez značenja, preko kojih oko samo letimično pređe, tražeći da izdvoji jednu koja nam je potrebna ili težeći da sliku što pre zaboravi. Upravo obrnutim procesom beleženja, umesto skretanja pogleda i shodno tome zaboravljanja, Stojanovićeve fotografije, nastale u neimenovanim gradovima na različitim krajevima sveta, vraćaju nas i podsećaju na trivijalno postojanje i neminovnost tog postojanja koje se opire zaboravu. Oko se opire istinitosti ovih fotografija ne zato što prikazuju prizore koji su nestvarni ili odbojni, već upravo zato što prikazuju ono što nam je poznato, što je svugde oko nas, ali što previđamo, uopštavajući trivijalnost stvarnosti i neprestano težeći da je učinimo boljom ili bar podnošljivijom. Ta stvarnost je masovna, a hiperprodukcija, koja je navodno motivisana stvarnim ljudskim potrebama, odavno je postala sama sebi cilj i zalog održanja sistema unutar društ(a)va razvijenog kapitalizma.

Kada govorimo o globalnoj hiperprodukciji, preko tog pojma prelazimo nehajno kao i preko beskrajnih rafova robe koja je ista u Amsterdamu, u Ljubljani, Negotinu ili Kazablanci, kojoj do kraja nikad ne razumemo namenu i ne propitujemo njenu neophodnost, jer je toliko uobičajena, „podruštvljena” i naturalizovana da se taj proces čini nepotrebnim, čak jalovim. Sa druge strane, kada kargo sadržaji, odnosno brojne plastične perike, kopije patika i sintetičke košulje ili džemperi, uredno poslagani čekajući one kojima su namenjeni, postanu predmetom fotografije, prema njima se najednom odnosimo začudno. Stvara se utisak fetiša jeftine robe, kemp zaljubljenosti u bezvredno, gotovo bizarna strast autora ka običnom na mestu izuzetnog, mnoštva kopija umesto originala, lošem, suvišnom i ružnom ispred dobrog, potrebnog i lepog. Međutim, taj utisak je zamka, jer se iza ovih fotografija nalazi nepristrasna prisutnost, inisistiranje na sagledavanju stvarnosti bez uobičajenih mehanizama kojima pokušavamo da osmislimo realno, da ga reprezentujemo, simbolički pozicioniramo i značenjski odredimo.

Reprezentacija na svakoj od fotografija kargo_kult serije se kreće samo u smeru reprezentacije mnoštva, i to na način da mnoštvo zastupa sâmo sebe, potpuno neosetljivo na mogućnost da postane nešto više od toga. Na taj način generiše se istinitost, istina o društvu koju nismo tražili, sa kojom izbegavamo da se suočimo i koju odbijamo da prihvatimo kao svoju, u kojoj postojimo, koju obnavljamo i nastavljamo. Odričući se privilegije mudrog oka istraživača, genija koji vidi ono što drugi ne uspevaju, ovde je oko fotografa naše oko na koje smo zažmurili. Da bismo ostali osvešćeni, politični ili ispravni, mi moramo da odbacimo suvišno, loše, lažno, jeftino i toksično, a jedino to nam ne dozvoljava kargo_kult, stavljajući u fokus i normalizujući ono odvraćajuće i marginalno iz stvarnosti.

Na potpuno isti način na koji pristupa artificijalnom, robi, odnosno mašinski ili ručno proizvedenim artefaktima, Stojanović tretira i prirodu u seriji oaze. Na jedanaest fotografija nalaze se prirodne scene posredovane (re)produkcijom, dok se na jednoj nalazi stvarni pejzaž. Očekivana Priroda, odnosno priroda u svom neposredovanom obliku ne postoji, a ono što je od te prirode ostalo su idealizovane predstave i produkcioni estetski zahtev za tim kako stvarna, nepatvorena priroda treba da izgleda. Fotografišući nove, stvorene (a ne date) pejzaže, slike prirode koje se unutar društva pojavljuju na fasadama zgrada, bokovima autobusa, kao vinjete ili dekorativni elementi u domovima, Stojanović dolazi do koncepta oaze, tužnih tropa kapitalističke fantazije o predistorijskom stupnju Prirode koji ne postoji nigde u svom čistom obliku i nemoguće ga je dostojno rekonstruisati ili reprezentovati. Adornova „druga priroda“ u oazama nije modifikovana samo ljudskim znanjem i činjenjem, već i novim procesima proizvodnje, koji su paradoksalno motivisani traganjem za prvom, „pravom“ Prirodom, prirodom po sebi, koja je uništena i nanovo se gubi u polju potpune apstrakcije, a ukazuje se pred nama samo kao umnogome deformisano kulturalno sećanje, na to šta priroda jeste (bila) i šta treba da bude.

Kroz oaze, beležeći društvo, Stojanović beleži prirodu i tako detektuje potrebu današnjeg društva da rekonstruiše i iznova stvori Prirodu, ali istovremeno uočava i unutrašnji konflikt te potrebe. Naime, reinvenciju Prirode (kao što je slučaj sa tradicijom, prošlošću ili nostalgijom uostalom), ne motiviše neka primalna iskonska potreba za njima, niti poetična želja pojedinca za sjedinjenjem sa prirodom, potraga za istinom, čistotom, pa čak ni eskapizam, već je to potreba da se putem Prirode koja postoji ili je postojala per se i označava nultu tačku, primarno stanje, uzvišenu datost i apsolut neutralnosti, opravda i legitimiše Drušvo. Prirodi nije potreban čovek, ali je čoveku i posebno kapitalističkom društvu itekako potrebna Priroda kako bi po ugledu na često nerazumljive, snažne i neumitne zakone prirode uspostavilo i održalo poredak na kome insistira. Iako se na prvi pogled čine kao spoj suprotnosti, motivi prirode u društvu – folija sa uzorkom šume ili planinskog proplanka na staklu poslovne zgrade, ili jelen koji mirno pase na desnom krilu šasije gradskog autobusa – nalaze se na svom mestu, savršeno obavljajući svoju funkciju, uveravajući nas da je odlazak na posao, akumulacija kapitala ili smerno i uljudno korišćenje tekovina civilizacije poput javnog prevoza nešto sasvim prirodno, stvarno i neminovno kao što su to izlazak i zalazak sunca.

Oaze nepogrešivo (raz)otkrivaju i izlažu pogledu težnju civilizacije, koja se pred našim očima ukazuje jedino kroz društvo i to društvo liberalnog kapitalizma i njegove zakone, da se približi prirodnosti Prirode. Kada se u zaključnoj fotografiji serije oaze „Čovek sa prirodnim staništem“ (iz Nacionalnog parka Tanger u Maroku) naposletku i prikaže čovek, neposredno prisutan unutar prirode, ta nam se slika čini odbojnom, veštačkom, nedovršenom, suočavajući nas sa sopstvenom potrebom da binarno oponiramo Prirodu i Društvo, dve stvarnosti koje se isključuju, ali koje simultano postoje. Prirodno stanište više nije priroda, a naša nesposobnost da Društvo pojmimo kao prirodno, a Prirodu kao „podruštvljenu” i kulturalnu, zauvek smešta prirodu u apstraktni, savršeni i savršeno celoviti svet fantazije, oazu, u kojoj prisustvo stvarnog svakodnevnog čoveka čini grešku, glitch i eksces.

Autorski pristup Marka Stojanovića u serijama kargo_kult i oaze, fotografski precizno, profesionalno i neumoljivo estetizuje melanholiju blistavih i sjajnih površina reklamnih i dekorativnih slika prirode, usamljenost beskrajnog mnoštva predmeta koji čekaju na vlasnika koji će ih posedovanjem osmisliti, zapuštenost suvenira, ili okrnjene vizije nečega što je zamišljeno da bude idealno. Ovakav pristup čini zaokret u odnosu na stvarnost u koju smo duboko uronjeni i generiše afekt namesto objektivnog uvida. Neživi svet tovara robe i veštačkih oaza dobija ljudskost uprkos upornom izostajanju čoveka, koji se kroz njih obznanjuje i kao uzrok i kao posledica. Serije fotografija, iako prikazuju dva ključna stuba kapitalizma, masovnu hiperprodukciju i težnju ka poistovećivanju sa zakonima prirode, ne čine to na ironičan, podrugljiv način, već se opiru vrednosnom sudu o ovim društvenim procesima. Umesto toga, čine ih vidljivim i time ostavljaju prostor gledaocu da se suoči sa apsurdom društvene stvarnosti u kojoj učestvuje u istoj meri kao i autor. I upravo u tom slobodnom, neoznačenom prostoru zbunjujućih i oprečnih afekata koje kod gledaoca proizvode ove vizuelne slike nalazi se mesto za (auto)refleksiju, kritičko promišljanje društva i generisanje politike.

Marija Ratković

DSCF0050DOB Gallery, Belgrade, 2016

DSCF9825cargo_cult I, Negotin, 2015

DSCF7887cargo_cult IX, Amsterdam, 2016

DSCF3692cargo_cult III, Casablanca, 2015

DSCF7337cargo_cult VIII, Salzburg, 2016

DSCF4437cargo_cult VI, Fez, 2016

DSCF4312cargo_cult VII, Fez, 2016

DSCF7490cargo_cult XI, Amsterdam, 2016

DSCF4877cargo_cult V, Fez, 2016

DSCF7912cargo_cult XII, Amsterdam, 2016

DSCF0950-2cargo_cult II, Ljubljana, 2015

DSCF0047DOB Gallery, Belgrade, 2016

DSCF4030aoases IV, Casablanca, 2016

DSCF4303oases IV, Fez, 2015

DSCF9378oases XIV, Belgrade, 2016

DSCF8213oases XI, Amsterdam, 2016

DSCF5500oases VII, Tangier, 2016

DSCF5461-copyoases V, Tangier, 2016

DSCF8069oases I, Athena, 2015

DSCF9840oases XIII, Belgrade, 2016

DSCF9807oases VIII, Belgrade, 2016

DSCF5280oases VI, Tangier, 2016

DSCF9740oases XV, Belgrade, 2016

DSCF9222oases XII, Belgrade, 2016

DSCF8381oases X, Salzburg, 2016

DSCF5774-2Man in a Natural Habitat, National park Tangier, Morocco, 2016