Miloš Bojović, Mila Panić, Jelena Prljević, Saša Tatić


November 2nd – 24th


Žarišta emerges as a mutual need to understand and reconcile the turmoil which the theme of return provokes in each of us. Our gathering was initiated by Slađana Petrović Varagić when we were invited to join IVA.lab program. Our participation in its first virtual edition in 2021, followed by a gathering in physical space in Požega in the Summer of 2022, made the foundation for the discussions we had in these past few months. This resulted in a multitude of intimate conversations, shared organizational knowledge, experiences, and perspectives about art. Most importantly, it strengthened our trust and friendship. We embraced vulnerability and allowed ourselves an attempt to unravel the knots woven by our intertwined in-transit life paths and fragmented histories. 

  • How much is the fear of return conditioned by the fear of departure?

Coming from the same geopolitical region, we share views on how the emotional landscape and memory permeate our thinking about who we are and how we behave within the native context and beyond it. Do these landscapes, as we see them, continue to exist when we are not in them? How willing are we to accept the (im)possibility of change within them? Exploring fixations and projections on the theme of (im)possibility of return through questioning of our own identities, gender, heritage, origin, and belonging leads us to a complex visual narrative that reveals the instability of exclusive attitudes created by fear. The multifaceted meaning of return in this case becomes the main curse that we consistently try to dispel, and to examine which value we lean towards more: return as a final return to the starting point or return as a temporary but continuous visit. We believe that departure, without which there would be no return, has never meant abandonment. 

  • What feeds the fear of return?

Generations born at the end of the second millennium in the Balkans grew up exposed to beliefs that “the future is somewhere else” and “one must leave to progress”, has led to dispersion. What remains is questioning the relationship between the idea of leaving as an escape or the idea of leaving for the sake of a better future elsewhere. 

  • What are the hopes and fears? Can we truly return?

Through individually recorded stories in places of personal significance, we examine how our own identities are shaped by the idea of memory sites, home, tradition, family, and the common future of the Balkan landscape. This polyvocal narrative is inspired by the definition of the triangle as the first shape after a line, as a certain distance created by the third point, which is perhaps the displaced state in relation to the point from which we started and the point we potentially aspire to. Three points are used as the minimum number of reference points necessary for basic stability. The returnee seeks to highlight the economic and social differences between the promised and the cursed land and deconstruct the collective imagination associated with it. Žarišta aims to unravel the interdependence of gender, geopolitics, privilege, language, and the perception of the evolution of the destination and origin. They return us into the field of fragrant silence that allows free movement through any imagined space of reality. 

Miloš Bojović, Mila Panić, Jelena Prljević, Saša Tatić


The project is supported by NFC Filmart, the Ministry of Culture of RS, and the Institute Für Auslandsbeziehungen (IFA). Special thanks to Slađana Petrović Varagić for trust and Nataša Prljević for support during the process.

Exhibition documentation here.


Photos: Žarišta