The first time in my life that I have ever knowingly grasped erotic sensation thanks to MTV: David Bowie, China girl

Iva Kuzmanović


June 14th – July 7th

I clearly recall two events from the earliest childhood. The first one is when I consciously experienced the sunrise for the first time in my life. In the very morning, I accidentally found myself on the terrace of the house by the sea where we were vacationing. Coming from the east, a torrent of warm, soft and powerful light that I never knew before, poured over me. I clearly remember the dumfounderment I felt due to the scene I was witnessing with my eyes.

Another event is related to the space of the living room in my parent’s home. It happened probably somewhere by the end of the 1980’s, I remember watching the video for David Bowie’s song China girl. While watching it, for the first time ever, I knowingly grasped the feeling of eroticism: excitingly seductive, sweet and alluringly dangerous. Later in life, whenever I saw this video again, in some background mental process, I was fully aware of the fact that, as a child, I recognized this feeling for the first time in my life thanks to the featuring scene.

The exhibition The first time in my life that I have ever knowingly grasped erotic sensation thanks to MTV… emerged from the need to revalue the content of a personal memory and, on the other hand, the attitude towards sentimentality in general.

The basic motif, the romantic landscape depicting sunset and lovers rolling in the waves, is initially done in oil. Repetitive realization of the basic motif using this traditional painting technique, which by itself requires time for technological reasons, has led to the continuous regoing through the sentimental experience, the recollecting of the times passed: analogue TVs, unexpected glitches and burnt colors of the image reproduced in VHS technology, recollections of the photonic scene that had been remembered in childhood. The constant repetition of the motif that oscillates between the determinants of romantic, erotic and kitsch, creates a sense of discomfort in a way that the paintings, as products of the process, reflect a dissonant attitude towards sentimentality. They are simultaneously an homage to its nonjudgmental innocence, and an ironic criticism of it.

The paintings shift into images by further treatment. The depiction that becomes bigger than life, within a hand’s reach and unattainable at the same time, places the observer in an (often inferior) perspective of rethinking of one’s own position in relation to memory. The temporality of memories, their fragility affected by the passing of time, is further suggested by the inclusion of video and audio installation in the setting. The ambient environment thus becomes a particular mise-en-scène that provides the contemplative time (and space) for the observer.

Time can change me, but I can’t trace time
a verse taken from Changes, David Bowie’s song

Photo: N. Ivanović