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Jelisaveta Rapaić

Bases her practice on a multimedia approach that is rooted in a multi-year practice in the field of textile.

The artist uses audio/video forms as a mode of expression, and special installations that she often implements through social activity in performative elements. She is currently developing the project “SAFE HAVEN”, an umbrella term for various (thematically connected) units originating from the start of the pandemic in Belgium, characterized through a pop-up element — one such event was the hair salon “WeAreOpen”. Through different efforts within the current project, she offers new interpretations of known concepts such as security, taste, therapy, social positioning, labor… in the hopes of mapping an alternative and fair mechanism of cooperation, creativity and exchange.

Interview

What is the language in common for the young people today?

I look at a common language, generally, as a but of course(ness),that is to say, an implicitness. The unverbalized agreement of freedom and respecting others’ freedom, even when it isn’t in accordance with our own, and a common language is exactly that set of social cues that ease cohabitation. But of course(ness), like giving a signal of approval and support is a good slogan that defines the common language. It is implying from understanding, which doesn’t necessarily need to be agreement. It is a game, before all else, to which we willingly agree to, the rules of which we enjoy.

 

What does the process of making one of your pieces look like?

My approach to creativity and work, as it stands, has changed quite a bit in the last two years. Nowadays I allow myself to pose questions without pressuring an answer, I allow myself to fail. I no longer have to foresee the outcome in order to begin the process of creation. Generally, I never did successfully follow through on a process from beginning to end, entirely dedicated to it, and I believe this is a common situation. Unknowingly, I’ve developed a mechanism of shifting processes that I want to apply, or don’t want to apply, in the moment. Processes that are manual, digital, documentary, textual, administrative, all equally important for the end result; so I try to dedicate myself to the segments, without guilt, that in the moment I feel I want to implement without having to. In line with that, I have the luxury, or curse, to often be the one coming up with projects for myself so I control the premise and I choose content based on my passion. Moreover, I have a love-hate relationship to schedules, however much I enjoy the structure, it proves equally distracting. At night I am more productive and I always simultaneously work on multiple, different creations.

Which challenges have you faced while making art as you know it?

The main challenge, as well as motivator, is the self-motivation without which my work cannot begin nor continue to exist. Unfortunately, the constant production of motivation requires constant wins, even defeats; thus, one can never garner a stable and harmonic rhythm of creation whilst routine lulls. Moreover, it activates the fear of instability, with that follows doubt over already made decisions in the need for security. But the big challenge, which is important to mention, is the overlapping of personal and professional life, as a common consequence of this calling. The nomadic life, living off of grants, temporary positions and projects, tax leeches, loiterers and etc. However I’m optimistic that new working opportunities are in the works, which could positively impact the quality of life of colleagues and others who feel this way.

Do you consider yourself an artist, and what does that word mean to you?

I often think about this, I don’t know, maybe I’m not one. In order to answer, I would need to define an artist without insulting anyone. In my opinion that concept is constantly evolving, I don’t like definitions, perhaps because they are definitive and strict. I’ve often changed my mind about that. Does academia define the artistic practice? Affinity? Material success? Skill, or something else? I would leave it up to each person to judge for themselves in regards to my placement in art.

What is your escape from reality? Do you even have a need to escape from something?

Well, art definitely isn’t, because it is my reality and everyday as well as the way that I support myself in one way or another. Hanging out, going out, socialization is, also, something in which I take pleasure, but I see the latter as something tangible and real. Though, I have a need for “escaping reality” in the form of reseting, the answer might surprise you. As a method of relaxation and minimizing stress I often look to undemanding, trivial content — my biggest guilty pleasure is 90 Day Fiance, and similar trash genres; I think it’s for the best that I stop here… I’m somewhat of an insomniac and it’s a great challenge for me to sleep in absolute silence, the mere thought of sleeping keeps me awake, thus I will often exploit the trivial content with a sedative goal. P.S. the last seasons of 90 Day really are incomparable to the first ones, but I think the corona virus is to blame… guilty pleasure je 90 Day Fiancé, i sličan trash žanr; bolje da tu stamen.... Blago sam insomnična I veliki mi je izazov spavati u tišini, samo pomisao o spavanju me često razbudi dodatno, tako da neretko eksploatišem krajnje trivijalni sadržaju u sedativne svrhe.

p.s. ove poslednje sezone 90 Daysa stvarno su neuporedive ranijim, ali verujem da je korona I na njih uticala, opraštam…

What does the word innovative mean to you?

The effort of reacting to current urgency, needs, possibilities that are different in relation to past moments. This, of course, doesn’t require a total dismissal of the past, rather, I would suggest a critical and applicable recycling of ideas. But for each kind of innovation it’s necessary to attempt to forget and release yourself of succession in order to allow for creative spaces and new understandings, mechanisms, questions and solutions. At the end of the day, I think it’s important to always go one step further (individually and collectively), because any farther than that and we wouldn’t be able to draw boundaries, nor should a fear of mistakes stop us from developing.

Do you have a plan for the future? Where can your artistic practice take you?

I do! But they often don’t go as planned, I wouldn’t want this to be my reminder of unfulfilled plans, with that I won’t say concretely — and as I’m impossibly indecisive, maybe it’s optimal not to expose anything. This question is even harder considering I’m at a crossroads with myself at this time — completing my Master’s and starting a new stage in life — but the transition is creating less concern than I thought it would. I continue to see myself in the field of culture and art.

Booking info colabs DM 😀

What made the biggest influence on you to become what you are today and do what you do now?

Practicality, coincidence, sheer opportunity? Did I even have a choice in the matter? Either way, there wasn’t one defining moment, it was a culmination of smaller (on first appearance, unconnected) choices that in the moment were easily made, without much thought. But I should say there were some very influential figures on the road, up until this point, that impacted my formation in a professional sense. Along with all this, there’s the readiness to come out from the affirmed, secure position, and even a romanticizing of this life. Generally I try to notice and take the opportunities that are at my disposal.

How would you describe Serbian (Balkan or European-depends on where you live and work) contemporary cultural scene?

With difficulty. I haven’t lived in Serbia in 3 years, now, that is, Belgrade. I’m not as active on the local “scene”, which is a shame but also the main motivation for my application to the Youth Biennale. Moreover, I believe that the last three years were significant for my development and formation, that took place in the EU region. That which I can say I noticed from my personal experience, for example, is that Bratislava’s scene, which was often my base, is very open to unestablished creatives — something we lack in. Also, our institutions are often very hermetic and closed off, unwilling to listen to the needs of the scene, which doesn’t help its development.

In which way does your creative process shape you or changes you as a person, if it does at all?

What can I say except that it makes me a better person! Ok, just kidding.

But I think it's ungrateful to talk about changing and shaping at the moment of that process, at the same time, I think that the fact that those processes affect me on a personal level is more important, than how, because it will certainly probably change again. Whenever you commit enough to something, an idea, start thinking AND living that vision, in that sense, changes definitely happen. But there is always a grain of skepticism about the possibilities of our efforts to really change anything permanently, even within ourselves, so it is better to analyze it from a distance.