Jana Jovašević


April 11th – 30th

The artistic practice and works of Jana Jovašević visually directly, while in approach subtly, comment and critically engage with intimate aspects of human behaviour and relations. Departing from trivialization and sensationalism, into which one can easily stray nowadays, Jana Jovašević’s works can be interpreted and understood through the concepts of symbol, sexuality, and death. These concepts, discursively multifaceted and of broad semantic scope, are interconnected and present as main themes or subtexts in her works, which emerge and develop across various mediums.


Exploring the role of symbols, the meanings they carry, and their variability, the artist problematizes the symbol as a matter of the collective in her works. The symbols she employs and critically approaches become the subject of her work, positioning them to provoke laughter, discomfort, or shock in the viewer, thereby problematizing those feelings and associations that arise in the audience. One of the dominant symbols in Jovašević’s works is the phallus. By utilising the phallus as predominantly a masculine principle, the artist examines layers of meaning and the interconnection of the masculine and feminine principles, striving for integrity and coherence. In her work “For Bataille”, penises are shaped to mimic worms living in the earth, representing the feminine principle, specifically dependent on another element, according to Bataille’s idea of seeking “coherent wholeness”.[1]


As another important term in Jana Jovašević’s works, sexuality is examined and viewed through symbols, corporeality, and intimate interpersonal and intergender relationships. Defining gender and sexual roles, based on Judith Butler’s performativity principle, and defining the body as male or androgynous, in the work titled “Siren”, the author challenges the gender categorization of the other body by assigning or, more precisely, removing the traditionally ingrained gender from the mythological creature. Objectified and altered, perceptually placed in an altered state, in physical distortion, the Siren actually becomes a kind of totem, where objectification of the body and emphasis on its sexual role fetishize corporeality. By using latex and the traditional technique of Shibari, the artist directly points to the sexual aspect of the other body, questioning the sexualization of the other and changing the paradigm and layers of meaning of these elements. If we accept Georges Bataille’s thesis that eroticism is a paradigm of freedom that transcends the boundaries of the individual, then the artist’s works can be understood as agents orbiting within those spaces of freedom, exploring collectivity.


The concept of death in Jana Jovašević’s works operates in several directions and frameworks. On one hand, the works engage in a dialogue with Georges Bataille’s thesis on the connection between death and eroticism, namely death and sexuality. On the other hand, death can also manifest through Paul Tillich’s idea of the death of symbols.[2] Finally, certain works operate towards the death of the idea itself. If we view the state of the death of the idea as a constant, the author in her video work “Bad works, burn badly” consciously and self-critically deals with this state in a very ironic manner, humorizing it, using the ritual practice of burning and libation, sacrificing her own ideas. Such ritual burning of ideas can be associated with the custom of burning the clothing of a deceased person, symbolising an end of a cycle, but, on a metaphysical level, a new beginning.

Mirko Kokir

[1] Ž. Bataj, Erotizam, Beograd: BIGZ, 1980, 10

[2] P. Tillich, Theology of Culture, Oxford University Press, 1959