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 time of 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 functionality of its urban localities by constructing wild - often never finished - buildings, in last thirty years, I found this book interesting as a proof of the change that has happened and a call to investigate the circumstances that label this change.


I visited all 30 locations from the photographs given in the book and searched for the angles from which they were taken, in order to photograph them again in October 2015. My goal was obvious - I wanted to compare the views, to put them on a grid and to 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 to be taken, meant also that I had to walk over and pass through the land that have situated all other angles, and encounter many other scenes that were complementing the one which 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 a scene that stood for a change that 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 angle but also of understanding the change that the new photograph should have evoked in the comparison 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 that were crucial for understanding the wider picture. In this sense, the side photographs that I took on the way got more important to me, not as standalone images but rather as documents of thoughts and questions that this experience has brought to me.

Even though it looked like that 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, what layers of an experience, does it experse it or reduce it? One of the ways to explore this capacity was to deconstruct my own practice that was unquestionably tied to photography.

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

(The result)


These few images follow the description text as an llustration.

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

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