David Maljkovic - Scene for New Heritage Trilogy

Artvehicle 14/Review

28th March 2007 — 6th May 2007

'25th May 2045.'
A silverised vehicle speeds along a forested road, pulling up at the base of an aluminium edifice, derelict and choked with weeds. It looks unreal somehow, setting the tone for the trilogy. Three men emerge from the vehicle and explore. In exchanges of wailing folksong, they question the significance of this forgotten monument. Tired, and still perplexed, they drive away, resolving to return in the future.

A figure makes his way up the road, lined with snow-clogged trees, clutching a silvered football as though it is a mystical orb. The now familiar shape of the monument can just be made out through a white haze. The boy stands within the structure. Expressionless, he manoeuvres the orb in his hands. His robotic prestidigitations are synchronised with swooshes of sound. At no point does he throw or kick it. Nevertheless, we hear the sound of a ball thudding against concrete. He walks around the gloomy interior and stares down through a dilapidated framework at the blankness outside.

'Scene For a New Heritage.'
We approach the monument once again through the trees. Cars and a Winnebago, silver-foiled, are parked randomly. Thumping electro alternates with other sound effects, independent to the visuals. Teenagers hang about, apparently waiting. Flagpoles but no flags. Shots from above reveal a layout like an airstrip. A couple throw a spinning disc back and forth. Two young men lean on a car, all attitude. A girl, rocking on her heels, chews gum. Boys dribble football-like bundles, laughing. In short, your average coachload of kids between activities on a school outing, except it is now an unlikely spot to visit. The camera pans over the miles of thick vegetation that surround the park. Then Contrejour shots of the youngsters, like snatches of footage from a free festival vaguely synchronise with echoey, garbled party chatter which appears to mark an epiphany before the electronics come in again, and finally, darkness.

The three videos are melded by the insistent, disorientating soundscape, and the camera's exhaustive investigation of the contours of the monument from different angles. Seen in isolation, the trilogy is an intriguing bit of science fiction, gently reminding us how perceptions change with time. Maljkovic states that his work is '...about the future, about collective amnesia, about what is going to happen and whether people are going to create a new heritage for themselves...' In fact he is going rather further than merely commenting on society's capacity to forget. The references within the work will be extremely resonant for those who are familiar with the territory. In his choice of location he has decided to look both forward and back in time. The pieces were shot at Petrova Gora in Croatia, a place with a long history of violence and unrest. The mountain was so named in memory of King Peter II, who was slain there in battle in 1097. Maljkovic chose the 25th May for the title of his first video as it was the birthday of Tito, who commissioned the memorial Park in memory of partisans who died there in WW2. The park itself would evoke particular memories for schoolchildren, possibly the artist included, for whom a visit was part of the School syllabus. Wanting to learn more about the architecture I turned to the superstore of 21st century memory, Google. Poignantly, one of the ten relevant listings for 'Vojin, Bakic, Petrova Gora, Memorial Park' details the partial destruction of the museum, and the theft and damage to exhibits therein during the Serb army's occupation of the site during the wars in the '90s. Bakic, a leading Yugoslav sculptor during the communist era, designed the Park. No details about the actual monument come up, however. They must be there somewhere, hidden beneath the mountain of property investment opportunities, accusations and counter-accusations relating to atrocities, details of victims, searches for the missing, information on travel in the area and landmine warnings. Tap in Maljkovic however, and references to the Park become a lot more plentiful. New heritage in action.


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London E1 7QX

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David Maljkovic - Scene for New Heritage Trilogy — David Maljkovic  Scene for a New Heritage, 2004  Image courtesy Annet Gelink
            Gallery, Amsterdam

David Maljkovic
Scene for a New Heritage, 2004
Image courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam