During her recent Fulbright scholar residency in New York, visual artist and photographer Olja Triaška Stefanović was researching the visuality and architecture of the Cold War. This was a continuation of her interest in memory studies in the context of the Cold War and what traces we can still find from that era and how it has shaped our collective futures. 
A visit to the United Nations Headquarters prompted a reflection on her family history and their experience as Yugoslavs in the context of the Cold War. Triaška Stefanović was born and grew up in the former Yugoslavia, in the country that was geographically in the ‘East’, psychologically in the ‘West’ but geo-politically non-aligned. In this atmosphere and setting, her parent’s generation grew up adjacent to the Iron Curtain, in a ‘market socialist’ economy yet culturally oriented towards European and America popular forms.
This exhibition takes as a backdrop a search for the (non) monuments to the Non-Aligned, that inspired geo-political project undertaken by Josip Broz Tito, president of former Yugoslavia. Through archival images, documents and a photographic essay featuring images from New York, San Francisco, Belgrade, and Berlin, this exhibition explores the tension between the realpolitik of the Cold War, its remnants and traces in the built environment, images, etc., and those of this utopic and ambitious project but one which is much less recognisable since its heyday in the 1960s. 
The FOG Gallery presents an introduction of the larger visual research as an open-ended visual dialogue across these periods, moments, spaces and places through experimental juxtaposition and montage of historical and archival materials and the use of contemporary documentary forms.

Olja Triaška Stefanović: Brotherhood and Unity

Exhibition Dates: January 26 - February 28, 2023

Closing Reception: Tuesday, February 28, 4 to 6 pm, Artist Talk 5 pm

Location: CVPA Campus Gallery, Main Campus, Dartmouth, MA, USA

Curator: Viera Levitt

UMass Dartmouth’s College of Visual and Performing Arts is proud to present Brotherhood and Unity, an exhibition of the photography of Yugoslavian-born Olja Triaška Stefanović, a Fulbright Scholar at Parsons School of Design/The New School, New York in the CVPA Campus Gallery from January 26 through February 28, 2023. The closing reception with artist talk is planned for Tuesday, February 28, 4 to 6 pm at the CVPA Campus Gallery, 285 Old Westport Road in Dartmouth, MA 02747. Light refreshments will be served. This exhibition, created specifically for UMass Dartmouth, explores identity, collective trauma, and the presence of the past through photographs and projections of abandoned monuments, memorial landscapes, and empty and destroyed Yugoslavian architecture. It visually analyzes the terms remembrance and forgetting in the context of the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the artist’s own memories and personal history. About her photography, Stefanović says, “Brotherhood and Unity is a story about leftovers of a country that no longer exists. I examine the effects of growing up during the war and the collapse of the state, exploring my memories of the 1980s and 1990s through architecture, memorials, and monuments of the former Yugoslavia. A large part of the project consists of images documenting the brutalist architecture that characterized the regime of Josip ‘Tito’ Broz.” Viera Levitt, the exhibition curator, added that the work “resonates with the architecture of UMass Dartmouth, built in the same architectural style. The sense of monumentality and utopian impulse behind these buildings is a wonderful backdrop for Olja’s exhibition. Her photographs, whether they are presented as prints on photo paper, photo decals, or projections talk about the way the built environment carries the memory and ethos of times past.  The photos the artist had photographed of the bullets in the walls in “Sniper Alley” (2018, from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina) also make us aware of the current war in Ukraine, where history is being created and leaving traces behind. The main focus of the exhibition is the projection of 36 photographs created during multiple trips across Yugoslavia between the years 2014 and 2018, “The Presence of the Past: Empty Stages of Brotherhood and Unity.” Stefanovic explains, “I travel back to my native country in search of my personal history. A historical and personal trauma is my basic line of discovering the ephemerality of the places of power. I think it is essential to tell stories that speak about the importance of democracy, show how bad nationalism and dictatorships can be, and portray what life looks like in isolation and under embargo."


Thursday, February 16, 2023 7:00 pm PST
Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, San Francisco, CA 94114

Meridel Rubenstein and Olja Triaška Stefanović both consider the ways culture influences how we inhabit the landscape, and how human ideologies and conflicts leave significant imprints on our environment. For example, Rubenstein’s Eden in Iraq Wastewater Garden Project “is a response to decades of conflict in this region and continued tension due to climate change, external water rights violations, and social upheaval.” Although photographing in a different region of the world, Triaška Stefanović also considers the long, lingering effects of social upheaval on the human landscape as she focusses on soviet-era architecture in Eastern Europe and the weighty history associated with these buildings.

"I was awarded a 2022 – 2023 Fulbright Slovak Scholar Program. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work for sixr months as a visiting researcher and visual artist at the Parsons School of Design in New York with visual artist and professor Anthony Aziz. In her interdisciplinary art project, Olja Triaška Stefanović focuses on the topics of the Cold War - its past, origins and current form, as well as the metaphor of the Iron Curtain, geopolitics, mapping of laboratories and scientific spaces from this period in the USA and Europe. In addition, she will address the possibilities and methodology of interdisciplinary art projects. At the host universities, which are among the best not only in the US but also in the world rankings (in 2021, the Parsons School of Design in New York was declared the third in the world and in the US the first in art colleges according to QS World University Rankings), she will have an opportunity to gain new pedagogical experience and to directly participate as a guest critique with local students. Upon return, she will present the acquired photographic material and research in the form of an author's book and exhibition.

Olja Triaška Stefanović | Brotherhood and Unity

Ya’ara Raz Haklai and Ido Cohen




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