Ivana Ognjanovac


By Ivana Gabrić

By using the fragments of family memories, Ivana Ognjanovac challenges and questions the stereotypes of the ideal home, happy family, education and social hierarchy, extending them to the context of the collective memory. In a charmingly subversive way, she plays with the old black and white family photographs, cuts them up and reassembles them, scribbles and writes on them, thus demistifying personal and family mythology. In this way she creates a series of works which were decontextualized and put into a new context, thus gaining a number of new, often humorous meanings. The author complemented her sketchbook with enlarged prints of a few, according to the authors’ opinion, emblematic works. Despite the seemingly serene tones, these photo collages possess a sharpness and wisdom of a premature child who playfully tells the family drama of exile and constant migration and the search for personal identity. But what is particularly intriguing are the realistic comments, intentionally incorrectly dated to emphasize the fragility and sensitivity of memories and the arbitrariness of their subsequent dating.

Through subsequently modified family dramas, Ivana actually speaks about a much more serious problem, which is put in a wider context of our social and national history. By doing so, she disputes the uncritical acceptance of our recent history, the ‘‘correctness’’ of which its creators are still debating. Thus, in her collages she successfully creates an intentional and emotionally charged fusion of the real and the imaginary, the old and the new, the lost and the found. She also questions the glorification of some events from our socio-political reality and cultural heritage, as well as the suppression of some other, in which the crucial role is played by the media manipulated by the ruling structures as the main counterfeiters our recent history.

This exhibition owes its intriguing name to an ancient Slavic saying used in Slavonia to explain children that it was time to go home after visiting neighbors and relatives, which gave Ivana an initial impulse to conceive the whole cycle. Except that in her case returning home is a very questionable, since her family moved so many times that the initial idea of home became completely dissolved, which additionally highlights the absurdity of the whole situation (Eg. The photocollage with a photograph of people getting out of a train with comments like: I wanna go home!- I don't!)

Ivana plays wittily even with difficult family situations, for example, in the works The Beloved Deceased, The Funeral, 09, Scribbled and I Already Have, she clearly expresses her indestructible positivism and the desire to lead a normal life. A work with a distinct force is an old yellowed postcard with a faded inscription “Before the war,” suggesting how quickly our memories are fading and how incoherent they are. In her specific humorous way, Ivana has attempted to resolve the traumas of the past so they do not fade away like this old postcard.

(Essay is published in the exhibition catalogue, Ivana Ognjanovac ''THE HOUSE HAS HORNS SO WE’RE MOVING AGAIN'' at Gallery Događanja, Zagreb 2013)