Vera Stanković Bio:
Vera is a visual artist from Serbia, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. As an insightful storyteller, her multi-disciplinary work is full of honest reminiscences of the intimate world yet critical of broader social issues. She graduated at the Belgrade Faculty of Electrical Engineering (Computer Studies) and at the Faculty of Fine Arts (Painting) in Belgrade, where she also received her MFA. In 2009 she received the first prize at the Biannual of Ceramics Kapfenberg, Austria. In 2015 he was a member of the organizing committee for the III. International Triennial of Ceramics UNICUM. She also teaches and works as a creative director and has received over a hundred international and Slovenian national prizes for her communication projects and was a member of jury at numerous international competitions in advertising festivals. Stanković’s work has been exhibited widely in Slovenia and internationally. The recent shows include Transformations or A Farewell Party, Gallery Božidar Jakac (2019 Slovenia); 60th Premio Faenza, International Museum for Ceramics in Faenza (2018 Italy).
Thank You Note to the Cleaning Lady, installation (sponge cloths), Glass Atrium Gallery in the City Hall of Ljubljana, 2016. Photo by Peter Škrlep
Curator: This installation uses colorful sponge cloths to form an image of a rainbow. The title intends a message to Cleaning Lady, yet it implies anonymity and universality. What was your initial motive to create this work? How does the work reflect your own experience as a mother artist?
Stanković: As soon as I became a mother, I realized my previous experiences haven’t had prepared me for it. I had expected the love and commitment, but never expected the amount of work that came with caring for a tiny baby. I also became aware of changes in my brain. I realized my focus was divided all the time – between the thing I was trying to focus on and the baby. This made me think (and fear) of the antagonism of the roles of mother and artist. But at the same time, I did not want to accept this antagonism. So I started to make works from the reality of motherhood. This work is the way the artist inside me made peace with the mum doing caretaking work. And it is an homage to all caretakers and maintenance workers, doing paid or unpaid work.
To Include Everything, Everything Everything, Absolutely, Absolutely Everything, installation (wooden drawers, toy cars, paint), Glass Atrium Gallery in the City Hall of Ljubljana, 2016. Photo by Peter Škrlep
Stanković: Some of my works have a ritual component. I crashed drawers (that were the containers for my different roles – the artist, the parent, the partner, the business woman…) and took my son’s toys and just played with and arranged them. The installation was a result of that. The children loved it and played with it, too!
I Bake Bread That Cannot Be Eaten, installation (clay, flour, water, yeast, coal, baking paper, text), 2012, Božidar Jakac Gallery – Lapidary, Kostanjevica, Slovenia. Photo by Peter Škrlep
Stanković: I never ever considered art as a source of income. I now think it is a pity, because I never really tried to make a living out of it. When I was a child, my father used to talk about art respectfully, but only as a hobby (not a job). I guess… I believed him;). No job is certain. I experienced that even as a well-paid creative director in different international and local advertising agencies. The job of an artist today is to make good work and exhibit it, apply to residencies, get to know and communicate with curators and gallery owners, do commissions, pr… For women (and not only women artists) everything is even more complicated and we (as a society) are only starting to acknowledge it. A month ago, a feminist work of Katharine Cibulka, an Austrian woman artist has been vandalized in the center of Ljubljana. The artistic community reacted instantly on social media condemning the act. But I was shocked by the amount of hateful comments and jokes that also appeared. [This text applies to the image at the top here and below].
Provoked with Nothing, installation (clay, engobes, wood), 2019, Božidar Jakac Gallery – Lapidary, Kostanjevica, Slovenia. Photo by Peter Škrlep
Provoked with Nothing (2019) is the continuation and development of The Moment My Thoughts Became Bloody (2009-2015). The sitting sculptures, depicting human figures and bird-people in various gestures and postures (for details see the poster above), foreground the artistic reflection on aggressiveness and violence existed in many contexts: intimate relations, social media, war and crimes, humans and nature etc. Stanković says, “I think we must think about violence and understand how “normal” people become violent and how we can all be manipulated into violent behavior. Condemning violence isn’t enough. For me, art is a way of thinking when things become unthinkable to me. I hope that through my works, I make a connection with other people so we make sense and progress together. I make art out of things that bother me.”
Farewell Party, installation (raw clay, plastic bags, mirrors, lights, turning mechanism), 2019, Božidar Jakac Gallery – Lapidary, Kostanjevica, Slovenia. Photo and video by Peter Škrlep
The work Farewell Party might be regarded as a watershed between the past and present situation in Stanković’s art practice. She says, ” I have been making sculptural installations in clay for about ten years. People started to expect a certain kind of work from me. I felt imprisoned. Also, this kind of production is very labor intensive and I came to a plateau of my one-man band production possibilities. It did not make sense anymore. I love this work very much cause it’s saying farewell in a fun way. When you enter the room, it is as if you entered some silent old fashion disco club… Creatively, this was a leap into the void (with no insurance net). I engaged in reading, drawing and writing again. I love the new sketches and ideas that are coming out of it”.
I am fascinated by transformation processes.
I observe transforming spaces, economy, environment, Earth, cities, work, cells, bodies, knowledge, history, countries, roles, education, technology, relationships, selves, languages.
All transforming on our watch.
I find it overwhelming.
So I face it.
Telling stories of transformations that are both personal stories of one, and stories of the many.
It often leads me into arranging: small clay figures, prints of photos and texts from archives, everyday objects, original texts. I make installations, sculptural compositions, collages, urban interventions, books, participative performances and photography. Whatever it takes to tell the story.