Relay Race of Youth
Olja Triaška Stefanović
Opening: 8 June at 9pm
Cultural Centre, Kamnik
In her project Relay Race of Youth the photographer Olja Triaška Stefanović focuses on an annual relay race, a celebration of youth and coherence of all ethnic groups. It is a story of one large country and its end.
The photographer Olja Triaška Stefanovic currently lives in Slovakia, but she was born in Yugoslavia, and after the collapse of Yugoslavia she became a citizen of Serbia. The 20th century in particular was exceptional in the sense that people, without ever having to leave their backyards, could experience several different state structures or political systems during their lifetimes, as described in the texts of Slovak historian Ľubomír Lipták. Maybe that’s the reason people became more courageous during this time period? Perhaps that is the reason they did not resist the nomadic way of life.
One of the central preoccupations of contemporary photography is looking back to history. This applies especially, though not exclusively, to artists whose lives were influenced by different cultures, mentalities and religions. On the other hand, it is precisely these artists who best perceive the historical moments that have influenced their own lives. This is the case with Stefanović. In her project Relay Race of Youth, The Story of One Large Country and Its End (2014) she focuses on the annual relay race, initiated in the former Yugoslavia in 1945 in honour of the then prime minister and later, president of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980). At the time, the relay race of youth was supposed to represent the coherence of all ethnic groups living in the country, but at the same time it contributed significantly to building the cult of personality of Tito himself. Although we know of similar running contests from other socialist countries (Peace Run, Friendship Run, Fellowship Relay, etc.), the Yugoslav youth relay nonetheless was perhaps the longest running contest, lasting until 1988.
The artist focuses on mapping sculptural and architectural monuments tied to this historical event, expanding her installation to include contemporary artefacts (badges, maps, publications etc.). The museum aspect of the exhibition is balanced by the photographic installation that displays the idiosyncratic characteristics of the–at that time–contemporary methods of recording life and its institutions. Lately, Eastern Bloc countries have been hit by a wave of nostalgia for the socialist era; a reaction to the extreme instability of present day societies unable to respond adequately to countless global challenges such as the economic dictates of multinational corporations, climate change, rapid population growth, ageing western civilisation, and deepening poverty.
the exhibition is open until 8 July 2016.
Address: Fužine 10, Kamnik