Mladen Miljanović, an academy-trained painter from Banjaluka, is an ambassador for creativity and visual arts who wouldn’t put to shame any developed country. Long ago, his exhibitions and artwork went beyond all imaginary and real boundaries we surround ourselves with. This year he has had the special honour of representing the RepublikaSrpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Venice Biennale. Praise came from everywhere, and his exhibition called The Garden of Delights was placed by a renowned Italian magazine among the top ten must-see exhibitions.
By: Senka Trivić
In the statements you made before leaving for the Venice Bienalle you were pretty reserved in your expectations. What are your impressions?
I didn’t want to set the expectations too high, both for my own and for the sake of others. That can be very dangerous because as often as not expectations set too high tend to kill the pleasure. I viewed the entire process prior to the actual opening of the Biennale more as a process of something unexpected and as a positive surprise. The most important thing was that I, as an artist, and the whole team from the Museum of Contemporary Art of the RepublikaSrpska gave our best. As the exhibition is open until November, we still get reactions and so far they have been nothing but positive, honestly. The Pavillion and our presentation reached climax at the very opening. As an artist, I was particularly happy because everyone felt that the exhibition at the Pavillion was unexpected, surprising, paradoxical and ironic. Recently I was coming back from Rome where I had another exhibition, and I stopped by the Pavillion in Venice to check how everything was going, and there I found a request from professors at the Venice Academy of Fine Arts. They brought more than 25 students for me to take them around and give them a lecture about the pavillion concept, which was great.
How much do you look at the past – from the day you became aware of your own talent and desire until this day, when you are one of the most recognised BH artists?
It is very simple – when I began pursuing art I was rather preoccupied with recycling my own past, but also society’s past, while at later stages I started analysing more and more the reality surrounding me. In the project I’m currently working on I am trying, through the idea of desire as something that implies the impending reality, to examine myself more and more and position myself as an anthropologist of the future.
I think it is a natural process, you have to engage in yourself – first to get to know the world within yourself – and only then to get to know the world through yourself and, at best, to change it through your work. For the world is nothing but an architectural entirety lined up around you as the sole centre, and it acknowledges only your accomplishments of stepping outside yourself and in my case these are my works.
“It’s high time we started perceiving ourselves as an integral part of this world and its equal part. There is a multitude of diversity in the world today and we are just one of those varieties because, until we have shattered prejudice against the world, the world will not shatter its prejudice against us.”
Artists in the Republika Srpska and BiH vs the World – what are the differences and what are the similarities?
There are some, but that’s not how I would define things – if we detach our artists from the world – the world will in turn detach our artists from itself. I think it’s high time we started perceiving ourselves as an integral part of this world and its equal part. There is a multitude of diversity in the world today and we are just one of those varieties because, until we have shattered prejudice against the world, the world will not shatter its prejudice against us. Because, seen from the Moon, a village next to Banjaluka is no different from London.