“I see many futures and no future at all at the same time” – Interview with Milica Mijajlovič

Dear Milica, you were living and working in Prague when the pandemic broke out and you had to return to Montenegro in your family. How are you doing now? 

Hello Easttopics, I am always happy to return back to you after our little cooperation last summer. Yes, when the pandemic broke out I was in Prague, and I was not forced to go back to Montenegro, rather it was my decision since I was already kind of emotionally drained out from the winter in Prague. So I thought, maybe few weeks by the sea with my family would feel refreshing, until the virus mess ends. Never thought few weeks might actually be few months, but it was a great decision and I haven’t regret any second. Here we are living in isolation, 20 minutes from the city, 5 minutes from the beach. We are surrounded with forest only, so our garden is endless in a way.  When I arrived I needed some time to adapt to the fact that I am not seeing any friends, but after few weeks we started hanging out again, since there was not so many cases of infection in Montenegro. Now I am already swimming and sailing. I am also writing and painting. Trying to have as much fun as possible but to be productive as well. It’s not easy to combine these two but I have my ways.

Courtesy of Milica Mijajlovič

Are you presently working on new projects and which one are they?

Right now I am finishing my master thesis and working mostly on projects that are connected to it. I am writing about trauma and spectacle and trying to find ways to refer to it trough my artistic practice, which is at the moment mostly multimedia work. I am working with my memories and my inner states, starting from text writing and then using it in video and voice works. I am painting too. We are preparing an exhibition in Munich this autumn, I really hope it wont be smashed by our current invisible enemy.

How did the pandemic affect your artistic practice?

Before the pandemic stared I was in a way of self quarantined writing my thesis and preparing exams, so not much actually changed. It maybe affected my practice in a way that I was even more focused on some inner processes and I could hear myself more. Sometimes the absence of people made me miss them so much that it was painful. The absence of closeness often awakens some of deep layers inside of me and I love to implement it in my work. I made one video during first weeks of quarantine and it’s called “Notes on uncertainty” where I don’t even pronounce uncertainty properly, but it’s a small visual reflection of what I was just saying. You can see it here.

Courtesy of Milica Mijajlovič

Was the quarantine something that helped you work or was it rather a burden?

It was not a burden, what was and still is a burden for me it’s the fact that the world is obviously reshaping. And I don’t know if I am pleased by that fact. Rather I am afraid. Most of my friends and colleagues see it as an opportunity for a better world. But I am afraid of forced reshaping and reseting. Anyways I will try to find the best way to exist in any world that come out of all of this. I am afraid that school as I know it and art as I know it won’t exist anymore. And I like things as I know them. But yes, maybe they will be even better, just like this life here in Montenegro in the last few months.

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Courtesy of Milica Mijajlovič

How do you see the future?

I see many futures and no future at all at the same time. I see hunger and poverty but also light and love and happiness and I see us running and laughing and sailing and crying. I feel like I cannot plan anymore but what I understood is that when there are no plans there is still life, so I see myself living and loving, maybe here maybe somewhere where I planned to live; maybe developing my artistic career maybe gardening here in our little forest. Maybe all together.

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Courtesy of Milica Mijajlovič

From a professional point of view, what is the biggest resignation that this period has required of you?

I would say stability but since I am still not a real professional, my life before during and after the crisis has been unstable anyways. So there was not many resignations. Maybe I needed only to resign on hope I had about grants, internships, residencies and other products of art institutions which were supposed to push my career and provide me some stability.

What drives your work in these weird times anyway?

The fact that I need to express myself; if not to anyone else than just to me. But it’s the only road I know and I will ride it no matter what. The process of growing and knowing yourself through your practice is the most important thing for me as an artist. If in the future I can make a career out of it, its also great.

What visual references do you draw upon in your work?

My biggest inspiration and influence is Sergei Parajanov. Both, visuals and atmosphere of his works are really close to me and I often refer to his aesthetics and writing in my work.

Courtesy of Milica Mijajlovič

Which cultural experience changed the way you see the world?

I guess each in a way. Every time I shift between east and west it’s changing my views again and again.

If you could work within a past art movement, which would it be?

Since today we have this freedom to be whatever we want, it’s not hard to exist within past art movements either. But yes if I have to choose, then definitely it would be Art Nouveau.

Which artist of the past would you most like to meet?

I would like to meet Bergman, thought of that many times while watching his movies.

Courtesy of Milica Mijajlovič

Have you ever had a moment when you questioned your career entirely?

I think we all did recently. But in my case I haven’t questioned it as a choice, more likely as if this was ever a career. Feels like it’s a career only under a system that allows it to be. Let’s see if that would be a case in the reseting future.

What are you watching, listening to or following that you would recommend?

During the quarantine I somehow reduced screen time on all devices. I spent time mostly with family, plants and animals. I even cancelled my Netflix subscription. Many people recommended me podcasts but I didn’t have patience to listen to them. I would recommend everyone to start gardening plants that could feed them, since times might become even more challenging soon. 🙂

Courtesy of Milica Mijajlovič

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