The Mauthausen camp was named after a townlet in Upper Austria, on the Danube, some twenty odd kilometres from Linz, towards the east. After having been wounded in combat in Eastern Serbia by Serbian royalists who consequently handed him over to the Nazis, Milan’s grandfather Vlada was forced to spend his time in Mauthausen from 1942 to 1945.
The work titled “186 Breaths” is an audio/wall installation which comprises 186 frottages (drawings in pencil on 90-gram Fabriano paper) with dimensions 18 x 28 cm. Each frottage was created on one of the 186 steps in Mauthausen’s quarry. The idea was to present the frottages in a scattered form that could serve to imitate walking along stairs. The audio recording that follows the setting on the wall can be found on a mobile device (USB player) with headphones. On the recording one can hear Milan walking on the stairs – the sound of footsteps, their echo, as well as heavy breathing. On it one can also hear sounds of nature, made by birds, insects… The stairs in Mauthausen are called “Die Todesstiege” (“Stairs of Death”). Countless inmates met their death there due to exhaustion or having been thrown off them by the guards, who mockingly called them parachutes. After a stone block would be dug up and given shape in the quarry, at the foot of the stairs, it would be placed in a wooden frame that each inmate carried on the back (it could weigh up to 50 kg). Then, they would all start climbing up together, in horizontal and vertical formations. Sooner or later, many of them fell victim to the unremitting toil.
The second work is titled “Staying Human” and it is a three-channel video installation. The name was taken from Mauthausen’s Memorial Centre, where under this name one can find the artefact of a shaving brush that belonged to grandpa Vlada while he was imprisoned in the camp. This work is a sequence of recordings – Milan’s grandfather as an aged man talking about being wounded by Serbian royalists, his capture and transport to the Mauthausen camp, as well as his life during imprisonment, Milan observing the quarry wall, filmed from the back, with headphones over his ears, Milan sitting/kneeling and drawing, a shot of the river called Rieder Bach that flows beside the Mauthausen camp (which with its vegetation and surroundings bears a striking resemblance to the Mali Pek river just outside Majdanpek), shots of the surrounding scenery, roads, lines of trees, fields of wheat, a forest … the shots were taken by hand and while moving (from the car and while walking). Among these, one can also find shots from the area where Milan’s grandfather, the young Communist, was wounded and captured, then also from Majdanpek where he had lived all his life. The video is followed by an audio recording, the voice of the narrator, who is actually Milan. He is trying to remember the stories his grandfather had told him when he was a young boy, with special reference to his view of his grandfather, his generation and the society as a whole. At moments, the grandfather’s voice can also be heard. The musical background is a contemporary rendition of a Vlach song called “Cinerjace”, one of the many “đi dor” songs that grandpa Vlada had been listening to all his life.
Three channel video, color, sound, full HD, 09:26 min.
Drawings (frottages), pencil on paper, 186 pieces, 18 x 28 cm each
Sound, mp3 file, 2:24 min.
Milica Milićević (1979) and Milan Bosnić (1969) both obtained MA’s at the Department of Painting of the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia and, although diverse in individual artistic ventures in group and solo exhibitions, they have been working on joint projects for the past 15 years under the name diSTRUKTURA. Their ideas are expressed through different media but mostly photography, painting, drawing and video.
diSTRUKTURA has taken part in over 30 individual and more than 60 group exhibitions such as: The New Archive (NN Contemporary Art, Northampton, UK, 2017), From Diaspora to Diversities (Remont Gallery, Belgrade, 2016), Memory of Violence – Dreams of the Future 1914 – 1918/2014 in the Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina (2015); Subdued Existence in Taichung Taiwan, distURBANces in Luxembourg (2013), in Vienna and Bratislava (2012), TINA B festival in Prague (2012), Police the Police/ Biennial of young artists in Bucharest (2010), Belgrade Non-Places in the Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade (2009), Hotel Mariakapel: a portrait by Katie Jane in Hoorn, the Netherlands (2008), Micro Narratives in the Museum of Modern Art Saint-Étienne (2008), 48th October Salon in Belgrade (2007) and Steirischer Herbst 2007 – next code: love in Graz (2007).
They exhibited solo in Serbia, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Finland.
Their activities were supported by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (2015), the European Cultural Foundation, KulturKontakt, the Kingdom of Norway, ProHelvetia, the Serbian Ministry of Culture, the Municipality of the City of Belgrade, Okolje Consulting and others. Their works are now part of many private, public and corporate collections such as the H2 Center for Contemporary Art Collection, the Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, the Cultural Center of Belgrade Collection, the Wiener Stadtische collection, Belgrade City Museum, the Telenor collection as well as the Okolje Consulting Art Collection from Ljubljana.
For the past ten years, they have participated in artist in residence programs and workshops in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Italy, Finland, Egypt and Serbia.