press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/3

Installation view, Ostavinska Gallery, Belgrade

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

Milunka Savić

2022, acrylic on paper,  93x126 cm

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

Isidora Sekulić

2022, graphite on paper,  93x126 cm

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

Milunka Savić

2022, graphite on paper,  93x126 cm

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

Untitled

2022, acrylic and charcoal on paper, 93x126 cm

Nadežda Petrović

2022, acrylic and charcoal on paper, 65x100 cm

Nadežda Petrović

2022, acrylic and gold leaf on paper, 42x59 cm

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/24

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

Following their trail

2022, branch, thread, digital prints, masking tape,  photographs ~ 19x14 cm

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

Untitled (my mother and Isidora Sekulić)

2022, mixed media,  27x39 cm

Untitled (Milunka Savić)

2022, mixed media,  27x39 cm

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/3

10 Amazing Women

2022, acrylic on paper, glue, lacquer, gold leaf, water, wood block

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

Untitled (Nadežda Petrović)

2022, mixed media,  42x59 cm

Untitled (Isidora Sekulić)

2022, mixed media,  42x59 cm

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

Untitled (Isidora Sekulić)

2022, mixed media,  27x39 cm

Untitled (Mir-Jam)

2022, mixed media,  26x37 cm

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/11

They do hold water​

each bawl  9.5(⌀)x5 cm

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/1

Untitled (Isidora Sekulić)

2022, mixed media,  45x450 cm

I had to myself become the sun*

 

Soon after I arrived in Belgrade I encountered a webpage entitled "10 Amazing Serbian Women" which told me the stories of ten prominent Serbian women who lived from the end of the 19th century through to the beginning of the 20th century. Since I am interested in women's life trajectories I delved into their biographies searching for more information about them. Eventually I decided to focus on just four women: Isidora Sekulić; Milunka Savić; Mir-Jam; and Nadežda Petrović. As a foreigner coming to reside in Belgrade for a period of two months I was intrigued to familiarise myself with heroines of a different culture, only to discover that they had far more in common with Israeli heroines than I had expected.
These women, who excelled at what they were doing, were living outside the norms of their society and time. They insisted on following what they believed had been their true calling, attempting to create their own version of reality. Their continuous endeavour to resist their own oppression seems to echo the lines of Świrszczyńska's poem: "When the sun turned off above me, I had to myself become the sun". However, becoming their own sun meant also paying a high social and personal price. They chose, or were driven, to live by themselves. They were constantly negotiating contemporaneous values and views. They were always introducing and living by a different set of beliefs and values, yet, sometimes, contradicting this same set of values and beliefs by their own statements and actions. Thus they chose, for example, volunteering positions (mostly as nurses in the Balkan wars and WW1) to confirm that despite their rebellious nature they still obeyed the accepted norms of femininity. On the one hand they were admired for what they did and on the other they were judged and scorned for not obeying the social dictates and rules by refusing to follow what was expected of them as "good" women of their time and place. 
Like many western women today, I live with the conviction that I am free to define my femininity while leading a meaningful life in any form I see fit and to voice my opinions and concerns. Yet do I really? Don't I pay a social price to some extent whenever I ignore gender dictates? Somewhat like my Serbian predecessors? 
By drawing and painting images of these women from their few existing portraits - using a variety of techniques - I wish to create a multiplicity of "voices" and viewpoints. To acknowledge the complexity of their existence as complicated and precarious. I sometimes paint their liking or write a text, then erase the images and paint again on top of the erasure, repeating this act several times. 
Some of these women have a physical resemblance to my mother, Miriam, and other members of her family. These resemblances led me to create a cross generational and cultural contemplation between my mother, myself and the Serbian women. I assembled all of us on different surfaces yet there is no distinction between the different generations. By such a representation I am trying to explore what unites us and what dissociates us, wondering whether women of today are really that far apart from those Serbian women.  In a way I participate in a continuous feminist attempt to create herstories. 

* A free translation from a poem by Anna Świrszczyńska (1909-1984)
 

 

noa arad yairi