Lexicon of Tanja Ostojić (2011–17) is a long-term interdisciplinary participatory research project in which online social media networks as well as collaborations with women sharing the same first name and family name have been utilised.
The name-sisters are of diverse nationalities, diverse ages, different levels of education, professions, social backgrounds and life experiences, but all of them are able to communicate in the Serbo-Croatian language and they or their parents originate from the SFRY.
Through personalised sociological research, interviews and direct social and creative exchange, the Berlin-based artist Tanja Ostojić creates maps that document the ways in which over 30 project participants―33 name-sisters—have migrated (during and after the war, or for economic reasons), and which identity and gender issues concern them. One of the projects portrays the labour conditions of the name sisters including unemployment, underpay and exploitation. The exhibition has a number of sections including sociological research archive, collective and individual art works produced in creative workshops, photo and video documentation from gatherings that took place. The works in terracotta were created in 2013 at the symposium TERRA in Kikinda, whereas the works in the technique of documentary embroidery were made in collaboration with the Belgrade-based artist Vahida Ramujkić at workshops organised on the premises of the Goethe-Institut Belgrade in January 2017, Museum of Contemporary Art Banja Luka, March 2017, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb in April 2017.
Socio-anthropological research is realized during Ostojić´s research fellowship at the Graduate Forum University of Art Berlin (2012-14). Over the course of the dynamic realisation of the project the artist established successful collaborations with the Goethe-Institut Belgrade and four Museums of Contemporary Art in the region where the most name-sisters are based: (Banja Luka, Zagreb, Belgrade and Rijeka). Beside creative workshops at the above institutions, guided tours were conducted through the current exhibitions and museum collections for the project participants who during the project’s development and realisation began to discover and develop their artistic potential.
Exhibition includes large format drawing, double photo portraits of the name-sisters, documentary embroidery wall installation, small terracotta sculptures, interviews in text format, video and other archival material. Interviews with the name sisters and their favourite recipes are an integral part of the exhibition and the eponymous book (Lexicon of Tanja Ostojić) to be published by the end of the year by Live Arts Development Agency London and MoCA Belgrade.
After Belgrade, the exhibition will move to the Atelier of MMCA Rijeka (from August 10th to September 7th, 2017), where another workshop with the most actively involved project participants is planned.
Documentary embroidery is a technique intended for the documentation of social reality, which from 2008 onwards has been developed by Vahida Ramujkić and Aviv Kruglanski. Documentary embroidery, as its name suggests, is a documentary technique which has as its foundation the traditional technique of embroidery—now employed in a new context—enabling collective self-reflection and the self-representation of an ever more complex and layered reality and the relations within it. This technique has been practised in diverse geographic locations and social environments, and in terms of the representation of reality it is more efficient then the latest digital photo and video technologies because, as its authors say, it requires more time to produce less information (images). The sluggishness of this technique is in fact its advantage since it enables the participants to spend more time together, with people, discussing and contrasting diverse viewpoints and opinions which are slowly woven onto the canvas, creating a complex composition with mutually interconnected elements. Together with a group of name-sisters, women gathered around the interdisciplinary project Lexicon of Tanja Ostojić, Tanja Ostojić and Vahida Ramujkić over the course of three consecutive workshops (each around three days long) have completed a large-scale tapestry. In various ways, this work reflects the specificities of the position of female identity vis-à-vis work, knowledge, community and other major existential issues, generating a complex and nuanced representation of these essential conditions. The work is the common property of all the participants in the project.
Tanja Ostojić (born in 1972 in Užice, SFRY) is a Berlin-based performance and interdisciplinary artist who studied art in Serbia, France and Germany. She includes herself as a character in performances and uses diverse media in her artistic researches, thereby examining social configurations, power relationships, feminist issues, economy and biopolitics. She works predominantly from the migrant woman’s perspective, while political positioning, humour and integration of the recipient define approaches in her work. Since 1994, she presented her work in a large number of exhibitions, venues and festivals around the world, including: Feminism is Politics!at Pratt Manhattan Gallery New York (2016), Busan Biennale, South Korea (2016), Homosexualität_en, Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin (2015), Economy, CCA Glasgow (2013), Tanja Ostojić: Body, Politics, Agency, Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana (2012), Call the Witness, Roma Pavilion, Venice Biennale (2011), Global Feminisms, Brooklyn Museum New York (2006), Plato of Humankind, Venice Biennale 2001. She has given talks, lectures and workshops at academic conferences and at art universities worldwide. Ostojić´s work is the subject of referential theoretical writings and a part of important public collections. She published a number of books including Lexicon of Tanja Ostojić, UdK Berlin (2014), Integration Impossible? The Politics of Migration in the Artwork of Tanja Ostojić, M. Gržinić and T. Ostojić eds., argobooks, Berlin 2009, and Strategies of Success / Curators Series 2001–2003, La Box, Bourges and SKC, Belgrade, 2004.
Curator: Zoran Erić