Interview with Lidija Delic
My practice is predicated, both conceptually and structurally, upon an inter-medial exploration of a set of relations between my subjective processes and spaces that surround me. I elucidate, expend and transform internal atmosphere, dreams, memories and imagination into the physical space of a gallery. My point of departure is the understanding that the world around us is not a system of pre-defined objects and concepts which we approach and choose rationally, but a dense network of unfinished processes where seemingly stable things are nothing but a reflection of stability of their images. Through my work I strive to create an opening which would lead a visitor from one level of reality to another, from physical to sensory, from a collective state to individual physical experience.
Ivan Sukovic: Your work is characterized by an experiment in which a particular material is displaced into a very specific conceptual space. What kind of research practice do you use when considering new ideas?
Lidija Delic: Firstly, my art practice is very much inspired by the location. The last series of works was created during and after my visit to Iceland, where I was an artist-in-residence. There I spent time collecting material for new paintings, drawings and video works, not knowing what exactly to expect and what I would achieve during the production phase. But this is exactly what motivates me – the uncertainty, and everything it could bring along. Iceland is an incredible country, the nature is vast and impressive, the colours are just magical, I have never seen the sun being so large. Secondly, when selecting works for a new exhibition, I want them to communicate with and correspond to the space. The galleries where I exhibit can also affect the development and appreciation of my artwork. For this reason, I need to know in advance details concerning space dimensions, light conditions and separation of space, so that I can respond appropriately. Finally, since my trip to Iceland, accompanied by visits to different exhibitions and interaction with numerous artists, I have acquired some sort of additional freedom vis-à-vis art and especially my own creativity, so in times of crisis and self-reflection, I tend to remind myself that an artistic expression should be more like a play and daydreaming, meaning that everything can be achieved through art.
IS: In recent years, you are returning to what was your beginning – painting. At the same time, this medium comes out of the existing understanding, with a new value being implemented throughout. In what way do your series follow one another?
LD: For the new series ‘Tropique Nord’ as well as for previous series and subsequent exhibitions, I thought a lot about their end meaning and overall representation. In addition to this, I felt the urge to do something that would be funny and new. So, I fully enjoyed working on the new series and at the end of the process I observed a remarkable progress in my work practice. And while my series may differ in their formal narration, they are still very personal, so they all speak the same visual language.
IS: What is the state of painting today?
LD: I never know how to respond to this question. From my own point of view, paintings are necessary and if not doing them, than at least to be surrounded by them.
IS: The art scene is loaded with mainstream topics, including political and identity-related themes. You, instead, explore the tropical North, where we are confronted with some fundamental questions about nature and its state in the future. Where will you take us next?
LD: I see my development as a continuous work in progress. Obviously, I do treat my series of works as complete, which means that I reached the finishing touch – a point from which I could not go further, creating works in a particular convention. Or, once I have achieved the effect I hope for, that is the real end. However, each of my previous works is a starting point for the next series. One work leads to another, since I learn while I create. It is thanks to this that I manage to formulate and deal with questions that bother me in a better way. Some hints for the next series of works involve poetry, non-gallery work, winter or summer ambiance.
IS: You are a member of the very successful U10 Art Space in Belgrade. How do you see the role of the gallery space today?
LD: U10 was established by seven artists and has been around for six years. It is an artists-run space, mostly dedicated to the affirmation and linking of younger authors on the contemporary art scene. When we started, there was no institution dedicated to young artists only. My peers and I did exhibit, but still our generation did not have a separate art scene. The fact that the two main museums were closed for a long time, but also the existence of other issues in the field of culture point to the weakness of the system and lack of cultural strategy. So, we relied on ourselves and decided to create a space that would serve young emerging artists, which has become an unavoidable spot on Belgrade’s art map. We have opted for a model which resembles a classic gallery, with a difference that we are not art dealers. We have a very large archive of artists, exhibitors and curators, which can certainly be of use to our local galleries that have opened recently. In addition to showcasing different artists, the galleries already existing on the local scene could also dedicate some more attention to representation of authors, their production and potential mobility, and support for participation in international fairs, residency programmes, etc.
IS: So, how would you describe the current generation of young artistis?
LD: The current scene is dynamic and enthusiastic. We are witnessing diverse artistic practices and expressions, as well as establishment of various art spaces, self-organized groups and commercial galleries, altogether offering similar content. However, I do believe that we lack an active evaluation and revisiting of the basic principle of independent organizing, merging of forces and a more active development and promotion of common ideas.
IS: You are taking part in the 59th October Salon. Can your works be treated independently of what you used to show before?
LD: I think that my works always talk and walk together. As I said, spending time in Iceland last year has had a huge impact on me. Visiting exhibitions and being exposed to an overwhelming amount of energy and creativity was something truly new and unforgettable. However, it is possible that the interaction of intuition and research is more personal in the installation prepared for the October Salon, than previously.
IS: What would you like to do next?
LD: I would like to explore a range of dilemmas and questions in relation to our capacity to change the reality ourselves by means of everyday activities and responsible decisions. I wonder how an artist can influence and change the perception of all sorts of things through a visual language. In fact, I think about these issues all the time.
*Photo on the previous page: Lidija Delić, by Dalibor Stanković