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."