Interview with Tadija Janicic

The Man Staring at Boobs

Hi Tadija, the titles of your works greatly reflect the art you are depicting. We encounter cynicism, humor, irony and commentary. What lies beneath your titles and how are they decided?
The title of an artwork is very important to me. I often say that my artwork cannot be that bad, as I can give them a great title. The names emerge without any rule, thus very spontaneously, and in the majority of cases, it is the name that is created first, then the image. The local radio station Karolina served as inspiration for my last series of artworks, which I called ‘Take a Break with Karolina’. For me, works without a name are just a set of artistic elements and expressions.

To what extent does your political view come across the present topics?
It is a distant view, nowhere close, really. I observe the reality from a rather relaxed position, without any need to get involved in some serious analysis of the environment. I have neither the strength nor the will for such an adventure.

You are quite present and recognized on the Serbian art scene. But you also started exhibiting abroad very early. Can an artist achieve success and live from his art, if he does not exhibit abroad?
It depends on what kind of success we are talking about. I know many of our artists who have made great success here, where their work is regularly rewarded. Still, some of them mean nothing abroad. I would say that approximately 95% of our artists mean nothing outside of Serbia. I am also in this percentage. On the other hand, there are artists who have done quite well abroad, but are completely unknown of here. It is possible to live from art at the local level, although I would rather call it survival instead.

The general trend among artists is to be socially engaged. Do you think that an artist can influence change or is such an engagement directed more towards drawing attention to themselves?
I do not follow trends. There are many who do, but in my view, such an approach is not of long duration. It is unlikely that today’s artists can change anything, but at least they should be able to point out different problems, so they become apparent and generate further discussion. All artists tend to draw attention to themselves. The only problem is that some are much more concerned with the career proper and much less with artwork. While usually more aggressive, they manage to secure good positions for themselves.

What is the contribution of institutions that promote and represent artists like you?
The contribution of state institutions is almost non-existent. Many of them are actually dead institutions, employing a bunch of people who do nothing, but still receive a salary. In such circumstances, art curators find it extremely difficult to organize an exhibition in the region, not to mention some world centres. Even when some calls for international exhibitions are advertised, participation is usually reserved for friends of family members.

She Went with Another Man and Took the Cat

What is missing in the art scene you belong to?
Literally everything! First, money is missing. Second, shops selling good quality materials are missing. Then, representative private and city galleries, museums of contemporary art, curators with international reputation and serious collectors are also missing. Thus, I would not exaggerate to say that everything an art system normally consists of is missing.