The Opening Response: Vladimir Bjeličić

The Opening Response titles a special series of interviews with artists, curators, writers, composers, mediators, and space-makers around the world. Dialoguing within and around the thematics which have rapidly emerged as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, we offer within this frame a differentiated, honest, and beautiful bid at understanding. Weekly, distinct doors are opened into the lives of the contributors; into their experiences dawning on pleasure, productivity, metaphysics, and paradigmatic shifts. Hopefully, these conversations can act as way-posts and lead to furthered empathy, unison, and co-creation. The Opening Response meets the need for weaving the autonomy of a web of conscious communications in times of extreme perplexity.

Vladimir Bjeličić was born in Belgrade, Serbia in 1983. He graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy at the Department of Art History and is active in the independent curatorial and artistic fields. Aside from being an author of numerous critical articles published both in print and digital media, Bjeličić expresses through different performative practices. Since 2015, he is a frequent collaborator of the British artist Elly Clarke on the project in progress #SERGINA, which is based on a survey of post-physical gender identity and sexuality on the Internet. Together with Senka Latnović he runs post curatorial formation Vocal Curatorial Syndrome, and is one of the founding members of drag based collective Ephemeral Confessions. In brief, his work revolves around the politics of representation of corporeality in contemporary art, especially in the domain of performance art.


Josseline Black – In this phase of forced isolation, how are you articulating your response in public discourse? What is your role in this larger conversation?

Vladimir Bjeličić – I am afraid there is no larger conversation. In the local context, we are facing with par excellence manifestation of biopolitics at site imposed by the Serbian authoritarian regime. The art community is an actual minority that is condemned not to be supported by the state, so I don’t think we are at all able to maintain public discussion… However, the art organizations are trying to act in solidarity by conducting a fund to support the actors that operate freelance. Having in mind the awful state art scene found itself, hopefully, this tendency will grow after the lockdown.

JB – Has your artistic practice changed through isolation?

VB – I don’t think it has changed, rather I feel it evolves. Recently, Elly Clarke, with whom I am collaborating for five years already on a continues project called #SERGINA, and myself have presented an online version of the performance HOW ARE YOU?: #SERGINA’S LIVE PARTICIPATORY (DIGITAL) SOAP OPERA IN THREE ACTS which we initially presented at ONCA space in Brighton last year. We attempted to articulate the current state through a melodramatic, as the title suggests, the participatory digital performance that took place simultaneously on Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube. Below you can see the recording.

JB – How has your practical capacity to produce work been affected by the pandemic?

VB – Well, since I have to work on a daily basis and luckily still have a job, very often after I finish the tasks I feel tired and quite unstimulated to work on things, so apparently the pandemic takes its tool.

JB – What is your approach to collaboration at the moment?

VB – I already mentioned this digital performance, and at this point I tend to release a couple of videos centred on my drag alter ego Markiza de Sada, as well as to continue working with my peers from Ephemeral Confessions, a drag based collective, I am one of the founding members.

JB – How would you define the present moment, metaphysically/literally/symbolically?

VB – I think this is a historical moment. Aside from different analyzes coming from renowned authors, thinkers, and scholars from different disciplines, nobody really knows how the world will function after the pandemic ends. My impression or rather my fear is that this kind of omnipresent emergency state will become our new normal like in some dystopian movies and sci-fi novels from the 1980s.

JB – Do you see the potential for renewed support for cultural production in spite of macro and micro-economies which are currently rapidly restructuring?

VB – Although some economies already issued official announcements that they are going to support cultural workers, I don’t think that will be the case for the majority coming from the countries that have been already economically unstable and endangered by the pervasive nature of capitalism.

JB – How is this time influencing your perception of alterity in general?

VB – I perceive all the others primarily from the perspective of a class issue. A good example to explore currently is the deepening of the class discrepancy in the UK, which is, as we know it, a society profoundly marked by the class divide. The consequences of global capital on the fragile economies will be even more devastating after the pandemic and add to that climate crises and you have a continuation of the apocalypse. Of course on a micro level, there might come a time when new movements will gradually develop to articulate, provoke, and eventually start changing the socio-political climate.

JB – How is your utilization of technology and virtuality evolving the paradigm within which you produce work?

VB – I think I already managed to provide an answer with previous questions.

JB – What is your position on the relationship between catastrophe and solidarity?

VB – Since I profoundly believe in the ideas related to the left spectre, my hope is that new forms of solidarity will emerge since at this point we do not need social distancing but social empowerment, support, and care.

JB – What is your utopia now?

VB – My utopia is my plants (much of my work is focused on flora), as well as the ones I watch growing from my window or in my neighbourhood when I take a solitary walk.


Josseline Black-Barnett is a contemporary curator, writer, and researcher. She holds an M.A. in time-based media from the Kunst Universität Linz and a B.A. in Anthropology (specialization Cotsen Institute of Archaeology) from the University of California Los Angeles. She operated for five years as in-house curator of the international artistic residency program at the Atelierhaus Salzamt (Austria) wherein she had the privilege of working closely with a number of brilliant artists. Included in her duties within the institution she allocated and directed the Salzamt hosting of the E.U. CreArt mobility for artists program. As a writer, she has reviewed exhibitions and co-edited texts for Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, Portugal, Madre Museum Naples, the Museums Quartier Vienna, MUMOK, Guimarães Gallery, Gallery Michaela Stock. She is regular theoretical contributor to the Contemporary Art Magazine Droste Effect. In addition, she has published with Interartive Malta, OnMaps Tirana, Albania, and L.A.C.E (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions). In tandem to her curatorial practice and writing, she has for the past decade used choreography as a research tool inquiring into the ontology of the performing body with a focus on embodied cartographies of public memory and space. She has held research residencies at the East Ugandan Arts Trust, the Centrum Kultury w Lublinie, the University of Arts Tirana Albania, and the Upper Austrian Architectural Forum. It is her privilege to continue developing her approach to curatorship which derives from an anthropological reading of art production and an ethnological dialectic in working with cultural content generated by art makers. Currently, she is developing the methodology which supports the foundation of a performance-based trans-disciplinary platform for a spectral critique on art production.

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