Landscapes with a guilty conscience

Rastko Novaković
curator: Višeslav Radenković


October 13th – 16th

a three-day retrospective of video works by Rastko Novaković

Opening: Wednesday, October 13, at 19h

Video projections: October 14, 15 & 16:
Lebensraum | Living space (80 min, 2009): 12:30, 15:00, 17:30
Kentish Town Lebensraum (9 min, 2010): 13:50, 16:20, 18:50
Concrete Heart Land (25 min, 2014): 14:00, 16:30, 19:00*
Pelyno Marija / Wormwood Maria (30 min, 2021): 14:30, 17:00, 19:30*

Projections of videos Ripples (45 min, 2011), A divine comedy (1 min, 2020), O my little bark… (1.5 min, 2020), JUDY FOUR TIMES (5 min, 2020) and Regular Sand (6.5 min, 2021) will be aired during all three days continuously from 12:30 to 20h.

*On Saturday, instead of the last two projections, there will be an art talk with the artist and the curator.

Art talk: Saturday, October 16, at 19h

Regular Sand (6.5 min, 2021)

Rastko Novaković is a Serbian/British artist, essayist and activist who has authored over 50 works. Landscapes with a guilty conscience is his first solo exhibition in Serbia, which is simultaneously an introduction to his opus and a retrospective of nine curated works which offers a cross-section of his interests and stylistic range. These moving image works treat living space in a novel way, simultaneously as a site of historical remembrance and a trace of social power relations.

The first group of moving image works includes Ripples (2011), Concrete Heart Land (2014) and Lebensraum (2009/2010): medium to feature length essays which use the concept of “geopolitical everyday” to explore the relationships between performance, witnessing, personal experience and large-scale forces such as war and international capital. The second group features short works from 2020 which use montage and collage interventions to reveal the hidden power-relations within the medium of moving image – they are palimpsests which renew the latent layers of text where the dominant or final version has occluded its layers. The third strand of the exhibition presents experimental talkies Pelyno Marija (2021) and Regular Sand (2021) which have sprung out of a dialogue with Lithuanian landscapes and their history – here the montage of disparate texts builds up a texture (in Lithuanian and Serbian respectively) which presents the different positions of the two authors within an encounter of two marginalised historical experiences.

Rastko’s works are part of a collaborative practice wherein we should acknowledge the co-authors of several of the pieces: the Dutch anthropologist Ger Duijzings, author of the book Religion and the Politics of Identity in Kosovo, the British musician and artist filmmaker Steven Ball, and the Lithuanian artist Beatriče Bukantyte. The exhibited nine pieces, completed between 2009 and 2021, treat landscape always as a social product, interlaced with conflict, a site of historical and memorial disputes, whether it be class war, the violence of colonisation or the space which is fractured by PR campaigns and mass/social media. Witnessing is for Novaković a key method of expression: voices feature as traces of class struggle, but also as a gateway to the viscera, wherein lies the archive of lived experience. The approach to text, history and space is problematised and deepened through the figures of the epic narrator, the Greek chorus or a speaker at a street protest. In these works, the position of the author is every time different: witness, essayist, researcher, conductor, agitator, a participant in anti-gentrification struggles, historian, poet and co-author.

Questioning the hierarchical nature of representation (the notions of objectivity, dominant narratives and histories and the homogeneity of the authorial voice), through the use of Brecht’s concept of “Alienation”, Rastko Novaković stirs us from the role of passive observer placing us in an active and lively dialogue with space and history. Our experiences react with the material, becoming part of the montage, and in the process, we discover new routes towards moral and political engagement.


Text: Višeslav Radenković

Photos: N. Ivanović