I’ve seen all of this before

Danilo Milovanović


February 1st – 19th

Starting point of Danilo Milovanović’s practice is the observation of everyday social dynamics and their visual manifestations in public space, which the artist sees as direct reflections of the state of society and the spirit of the times. His ideas are mainly manifested through ephemeral interventions and performative actions in public space. Using simple gestures, which seem like subtle, non-invasive errors and/or irrationalities in the established order of public space, the artist points out to the deeply rooted symptoms of consumer society and the conflicted relationship between people and nature. Milovanović is interested in current global issues, but addresses these from a local point of view, often with humor and satire. While avoiding spectacles and commodification of serious themes through art, he invites viewers in a direct, accessible language to actively engage in society. Although his work could be seen as a form of social activism, Milovanović skillfully nurtures the poetic nature of his artistic expression, which rather classifies him as an “artivist”, i. e. artistic activist.

At U10 Art Space, he presents a selection of interventions and small scale works created in the past six years. The majority of the exhibition consists of works that thematize visual pollution of public space and explore its artistic potentials. Perhaps the most obvious illustration of this is a series of photographs in which the artist imitates visual manifestations from public space, but translates them into artistic artefacts. Milovanović tackles the phenomenon of announcement as a form of communication in public space by removing posters from public space, recycling them and then returning the paper mass to authentic locations, from which the posters have been removed. Through this process, the posters get deprived of their essential value – the information – and transformed into material sediments that continue to exist as some kinds of abstract optical errors in public space.

Unlike announcements, whose purpose is to spread information about public events, we associate advertisements with private interests. The artist sees branding of basic supplies, such as food and water, as an example of private interests in the public sphere. He reacts on commodification of water by collecting empty bottles, mostly from tourist parts of town, and uses them as a medium for an art installation. The bottles are returned into public space, only to be filled with water from a fountain that at some point stops working and becomes a metaphorically charged static installation. Following a similar approach in another work, the artist collects stickers from fruit in the supermarket and pastes them on the still unripe fruits on a tree. These ripen over time and fall to the ground as “finished products”. Consummation of nature as a topic is also present in another presented intervention, where the wild plants are cut and modeled after geometrically shaped urban bushes that were adapted to people’s culturally conditioned decorative standards.

Danilo Milovanović’s works are processual and repetitive. These characteristics are especially pointed out in some of his works that can be interpreted as urban variants of land art. Milovanović for example finds shortcuts formed by walking on grassy surfaces and goes on to create new paths on the same lawn, right next to them, by walking back and forth. His new paths defy the logic of functionality and that becomes their very purpose – to oppose to established rules and challenge cultural automation. In another work, he collects dry leaves during the fall and returns them under the trees in late spring as a humorous answer to climate change: the artist creates “natural” confusion.

Playfulness and unburdened approach which distinguish Danilo Milovanović blur the line between artistic expression and civic responsibility. Therefore, this exhibition doesn’t only provide an insight into his work, but above all a display of ideas that make us reflect on our perception of the social mechanisms that shape our everyday lives.

Translation: Natalija Milovanović

Photo: N. Ivanović