about the exhibition
New Works 04.3
Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro
November 11, 2004–January 23, 2005about the artist
Whether videotaping pirated film screenings in developing countries or staging a performance drawing together a city’s guest workers and its art world, Milica Tomic addresses the global complexities of identity. Her dialectical projects, primarily realized through video, connect contemporary society with recent social and political history.
One represents many in Tomic’s absorbing, large-scale projections. I am Milica Tomic (1998/99) explores the constructed, accidental necessity (Friedrich Hegel) of national identity. In the video loop Tomic successively repeats her name in various languages and takes on associated nationalities—Ich bin Milica Tomic, Ich bin Deutsch; Jaz sem Milica Tomic, Jaz sem Slovenka. Despite wounds miraculously appearing with each phrase confidently uttered, the artist calmly continues until her bloodied body transforms back to its pristine condition. The work not only evokes the violent and indestructible nature of statehood, but also a global dislocation of body, mind, perception, and reality. It, like Tomic’s other projects, reflects on geographic and cultural disparity, and suggests that through nationality and language the reality of both individuals and societies take shape.
Milica Tomic received her MA from the Acadamy of Fine Arts, Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro in 1990. Solo shows include Secession, Vienna, Austria and Museum of Modern Art, Arnhem, Holland, both in 2000. Group exhibitions include the 8th International Istanbul Biennial, Turkey (2003); 50th Venice Biennale, Italy (2003); and XXIV Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (1998). Tomic lives in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro.
about the project
In Tomic’s Artpace project, Reading Capital, the artist once again utilizes the power of moving image and personal address to explore globalism—in this case the contemporary exchange of goods and services. The video joins Karl Marx’s Das Kapital with wealthy Texans to re-examine the nineteenth century philosopher’s premise within the context of today’s global and capitalist economy, structures often associated with Texas.
At the entrance to the darkened gallery lies the theoretical foundation for the video within. In the 1930s avant-garde filmmaker Sergei M. Eisenstein began notes for a never-realized film based on Das Kapital. Rhyming with Marx’s social theory of dialectical materialism, he created a corresponding editing process—dialectic montage—a strategy of physically colliding disparate elements to create conflict, and therefore new meaning. Rather than concretely applying Eisenstein’s method of montage, Tomic has conceptually employed it in her video.
For the piece several of the area’s most successful capitalists read from Marx’s seminal critique of the very system that beget them success. The resulting video presents the voices speaking passages into the camera while seated in a space of their choosing (home, office). As T-shirts printed for the opening state, the work foregrounds the present state of world capitalism: 98% owns 2%.
Reading Capital, like other pieces by Milica Tomic, seductively sparks discourse about disparity as it relates to the circulation of products and culture in the twenty-first century.