Oh Montenegro, why so wild?

Autumn 2015



I took the publication Budva, Sv. Stefan, Petrovac (Miroslav Luketic, Obod, Cetinje, 1966) as the initial point of a research project Oh, Montenegro, why so wild? The book illustrates the tourist zone of Budva - a Montenegrin town on the Adriatic Sea at the beginning of mass tourism in Yugoslavia. Being personally overwhelmed by the natural beauties of Montenegro but at the same time horrified by witnessing the gradual destruction of its landscape and continuous ruining of the functionality of its urban localities by constructing wild - often never finished buildings, in the last thirty years, I found this book relevant as an evidence of the change that has happened and a call to investigate the circumstances that label this change. 


I visited all 30 locations illustrated in the book and searched for the angles from which the photographs were taken in order to photograph them again in October 2015. My goal was obvious - I wanted to compare the views, put them on a grid, and study the change. 


Still, the fact that I had to go there, to walk, to search for the angle, and to find the place from which that one photograph was taken, meant also that I had to walk over and pass through the land. This land has situated all other possible angles and made me encounter other scenes. It felt as if these other scenes were complementing the one that I planned to capture, but which, if I had followed the initial idea, would have stayed excluded and invisible in the final display of the planned comparison. 


These side scenes defined my approach to the one that stood for a change I wanted to depict. But was this depiction capable of posing questions as I would have hoped or imagined in advance? Those other scenes were an inseparable part of the experience of searching for the right angle but also enabled the understanding of the change that the new photograph should have evoked by comparing it to the old one. I got curious whether this experience of mine would be translated and transmitted through mere comparison of photographs that I planned and which would have obviously lacked elements crucial for understanding the wide picture. In this sense, the side photographs I took on the way became more meaningful to me, not as standalone images but rather as documents of thoughts and questions that this experience has brought me.


Even though it looked like a predictable set of questions related to the change of landscape and its meaning in the context of tourism, architecture, urban planning, economy, etc., were part of my research, I quite soon realized that I was more curious (or shall I say suspicious) about the capacity of an isolated photographic image to stand alone, encourage understanding of social structures and pose further questions around it. Also, to whose experience does a photograph refer, to what layers of it, does it express it or reduce it? One of the ways to explore this capacity was to deconstruct my own practice that unquestionably is tied to photography. 


The experience of traveling and the situation of mass tourism turned out to be a sample that enabled this exploration that became the main topic of my PhD project at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.



These few images follow the description text as an llustration.

Initial report to the author of the original book, including the comparison, in Serbian.

An article published in Kamenzid magazine.

Project Proposal for the Artistic Research PhD program that I applied for and got accepted in, in 2016.

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