The Beauty and Transience of Life
ORIENTAL STORIES OF ŽELJKA MIĆANOVIĆ MILJKOVIĆ
Travelling to various destinations inspires me to leave my mark wherever I go. –says multimedia artist Željka Mićanović Miljković. Ever since she left her hometown of Tuzla, she has changed many cities and each of them earned its own special place in her body of work. Having graduated from secondary school she moved from Belgrade to Italy where she spent seven years. There, she got a degree in graphic design from the Academy of Fine Arts and gained Master’s degree at the European University of Design. After that, she spent two years in Greece, five in Istanbul and a year in Ankara in Turkey, and all these countries and cultures made a strong impression on the artist who later infused her impressions into her incredible works. “Ankara: The view from the window of Istanbul” is Željka Mićanović Miljković’s exhibition which, after Belgrade, went on a tour.
Between the book and space
Željka took the visitors of this peculiar exhibition on a journey across the Bosphorus the sights and sceneries of which are expressed through drawings, images and video projections. -You’ll rarely find a contemporary artist who focuses on a single art form these days, because one medium tends to limit expression. The strict division between ceramics, sculpting, painting etc. has become obsolete. Although I have been trained in is applied graphics, paper is my passion and artistic foundation. I have extended my work onto an art book which is often produced in a single copy and includes authentic and original works. After the book I moved on to space and I had my own art gallery called “Prozor” (“The Window”) in Belgrade for a while. In the recent years it has only existed in virtual form -says Željka Mićanović Miljković. This young, creative and talented artist is currently doing her PhD in scenic design at the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad. Her exhibitions are multimedia projects made of graphs and pictures; combined aquarelles, acrylics and collage, and all other exhibitions also include videos. The patron was the Turkish Cultural Centre which recognized her talent and supported the presentation of their country through the eyes of an artist.
Dandelion as a metaphor
Željka prepared the exhibition, dedicated to the city that captivated her at the first sight, with a lot of emotion and great care in Belgrade. – Numerous associates participated in preparation of the exhibition: scenic designers, video and sound editors, designers, composers. It can be said that I had a role of the director because the exhibition itself was conceived as a play of some sort- explains Zeljka. –Dandelion serves as a metaphor in the exhibition as because Ankara has made me aware of the ephemeral of life all that is beautiful and transient. I must admit that I harbored prejudice when it came to that city and I wondered whether I would like at all after Istanbul.
In this exhibition, Zeljka’s great book of Istanbul was presented, and above it on the wall there was a huge painting of Ankara, the first large format that she did after many miniatures. Željka Mićanović Miljković says that she feels at home in Turkey and that one persistent prejudice is that everything there is dirty.
-It is spick and span, clean enough to pick up food off the street and safely eat it, the women are very tidy and their houses are spotless. There is no littering, even though 20 million people reside in Istanbul and many tourists are visiting at any given time-Zeljka tells us.
Boxes full of memories
What had swept her off her feet at the very first contact was how multilayered Turkey was and it soon became a great source of inspiration. For Zeljka every journey is a source of inspiration which makes her leave a mark wherever she goes.
-I keep boxes for every place I have visited. Inside are museum tickets, local newspapers and books written in language spoken in that city. Languages are my second love and I have studied Turkish in order to read Orhan Pamuk in original. The author who has become synonymous with the city is certainly a great source of inspiration. I always bring back books and flowers which I later use for my collection of dried plants or imprints in graphic. I would like to create a grand collection one day or even start my own museum.
For her PhD studies Zeljka has gone back to theatre. She says that she would like to be a professor one day, and to help open the minds of generations to come.
Zeljka’s “Oriental Stories” will tour Bosnia before going Turkey. Having in mind that she had spent six years in Turkey, she shared some of their customs with.
-One never enters a house with their shoes on, they are rather superstitious and there is a blue evil eye charm on virtually every single building or construction site, small shop or bank and modern office spaces. The blue eye charm can be made of glass, ceramics, wood and it is even built into façade, at least on one side. The Turks drink far more tea than coffee and the most popular means of transportation is a boat. Watching the sun set while crossing over from the European to the Asian side is an absolutely stunning experience. One can find complete inner peace aboard the ferry. Passengers are sipping their tea and feeding seagulls pieces of sweet sesame-covered bagels. I have tried to paint such images in my work.
Photo by: Julia Forsman, Patricia Willocq, Jovan Marjanov, Milan Kralj, Jovana Bogdanović