Ivana Ognjanovac


Completely personal, completely political (excerpts)
by Jasna Jakšić

Completely Private, an exhibition by three young artists, Maria Knezić, Ivana Ognjanovac and Ružica Dobranić in Vladimir Nazor Gallery stages a fictional household private space, whose parts at the micro level have been turned into a battlefield for power among household members: kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, children's room, attic.

The cover of The House Has Horns So We’re Moving Again, another block form the series of collages by Ivana Ognjanovac, features Braco i Seka, the legendary faces from chocolate wrappers and very predictable heroes of children's literature with mainly educational purpose. The work, according to the author, a work in progress, which "deals with clichés associated with the ideal home, family, education, social roles / hierarchy (gender, age) and sexuality!" The basis of the work is the author's personal and family history, told with distorted dates, actors and events – historical contribution here is only emotional, far from any sort of realism or literal contextualization. The historical distance, so palpable in the use of photographs as found objects, or, more precisely – pictures, gives additional impetus for challenging stereotypes, drawing them into a narrative of fictional personal and family history. The size of the book and the infantile handwriting and drawing simulate child's precision and spontaneity in translating the symbolic system in the process of adopting the visual language. What is artificial here, though even this artificiality is hidden by sloppy cutting of the collage, are only the old photographs, that could potentially be a hidden treasure from a long unopened drawer. But all this is in the service of mediating the disclosure of imposed gender roles, which are speaking from tapestries, picture books, films, folk wisdom and from a good part of the oral family tradition ... The second part of the installation is an audio recording, based on children's stories: Babaroga, the archetypal female monster endowed with horns which represent the patriarchal authority and because of which she can not leave her home: in her service, working in the mine in the basement of the house, there are numerous tiny nameless creatures, hidden like illegal immigrants sentenced to endless labor. Babaroga and the creatures, as well as the visitors from whose frenetic stories she absorbs the outside world, are reminiscent of fantastic creatures from H. Miyazaki's Spirited Away. The terrifying clamor of Babaroga's basement and the senseless slave labor, scarier even than the donkey's suffering to which Pinocchio had been sentenced, are awaiting the naughty children. The question remains whether those children who refuse to accept the given roles are naughty, too.

The territory is divided with adhesive tape, the contours are drawn, and each of the artists is in charge not just of one room but also of one of the functions of the house. But in the allocated rooms it is not to be expected to find personal interpretations of the private space. One can rather assume that it is all about potential dynamics of taking up space, and, finally, about the last redefinition of defending the private.

(Essay is published in the exhibition catalogue ''Ružica Dobranić, Marija Knezić, Ivana Ognjanovac - COMPLETELY PRIVATE'' at Gallery Vladimira Nazora in Zagreb 2013)