The site-specific intervention by Irena Kelečević entitled Where Is My Place is concerned with the research of the identity of the space related to the building where the Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art is situated, at 14 Pariska St.
The apartment building with an exhibition gallery at the ground floor, the work by the architect Miroslav (Mirko) Jovanović, is called also the “artists’ building” (Goran V. Andjelković) due to its being constructed for the needs of housing, musical studio, painting ateliers and exhibiting presentation of the mid-twentieth century prominent artists.
Such conception of a residential-exhibiting space, built between 1956 and 1960 as a bold and innovative solution at the time, provided the Salon of the Modern Gallery (later the Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art) with the position of a relevant venue as an initiator but also as a witness of decades of social, economic and, primarily, cultural shifts taking place in Belgrade.
The work Where Is My Place consists of several composing parts: drawings in space, framed drawings and collages, interventions with old mobiliary transforming the space into a form of a mise-en-scène, and photos. Taking on the role of spatial narrator, more then with the architecture and the life of the building itself, the artist is concerned with the semantic identity of the place, the symbolism of what this place once were and what it is nowadays. Starting from the basic facts related to location, without some broader knowledge on people, identities, spaces, stories, she embarks on the place identity construction using an inverse method. Positioning herself as a key actor, the one that discovers, that asks question in first person (“Where Is My Place?”), she sets forth the intervention that stands between facts and imagination, revelation and historiography. Returning to the primary function of the location at 14 Pariska St. — an apartment building with ateliers, decades of operating exhibiting space — the artist asks the question which essentially comes to be the basis of the actual work performed, i.e. of examining the personal artistic identity, here and now.
Irena’s works are focused on visual perception of space, on its abstracting, and also of its transformation and/or its re-articulation through a specific form of stage design. The principle of reduction and ephemerality is intrinsically important for the artist’s work. The reduction can be explained as a specific aesthetic principle, which the artist achieves through liberating from the thickening of forms and methods, and performing a latent conjoining of media: drawing in space, painting, architecture, they all become one. Irena’s drawings and collages are purified from unnecessary details; drawings on the wall, i.e. the outline of the artist’s body together with the framed drawings tend to tell the story of themselves, their body within the specific place and architecture. With old furniture, mobiliary, spatial elements, she structures the vision of the purpose of gallery and atelier space, and, to an extent through Fluxus-like interventions, the artist figures out and establishes the identity of the place. Four photos portraying staged real spatial situations involving mobiliary, are in fact, each in its own right, the allusions to the representations of works (laying nude, still lifes, room interior) by four authors and distinguished painters that lived and produced at the building at 14 Pariska St.: Stojan Aralica, Milenko Šerban, Pedja Milosavljević and Ivan Tabaković.
Irena Kelečević (b. 1975) graduated and received her MA from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, where she currently completes her PhD studies. In her work she investigates personal space and its links with the public space, not defined only by a traditional architecture but also emerging as a product of social practice, since it is used, occupied and transformed via everyday activities. From 2003, she exhibits in Serbia and abroad. She realised a number of projects in gallery and public spaces, notably in the framework of BELEF, October Salon, Memorial of Nadežda Petrović, Cuenca Biennale in Ecuador and in collaboration with Belgrade Youth Centre, Student City Culture Centre, MKM, The Bell (Zvono) Gallery, Remont, Belgrade Commercial Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art, “Nadežda Petrović” Art Gallery in Čačak, National Museum in Kraljevo, Culture Centre in Požega, Stadtturmgalerie in Innsbruck (Austria), Califia Gallery in Czech Republic, etc.