Aleksandrija Ajdukovic


Kategorien: Fotografie Video Partizipativ

Crime Scene/Serbian Photography

From time to time I work for a daily tabloid newspaper due to certain circumstances. As in all other newspapers, the newspaper I work for has also the department for information, sports, photojournalism, politics, as well as the so called V.I.P. and crime scene reporting departments. Departments for information and politics mostly ″copy″ their photographs from agency sites such as Beta, Tanjug, A.P. and others, so that photographers do not have to do any field work, to use the newspaper jargon. Photojournalism is rare. Only a few privileged photographers can cover sports events, because they have powerful photographic lenses. What all of us others ″wind up with″ are show biz and crime scene reports. Since I am not a big fan of the local V.I.P. scene, that is I am not following what is going on in the world of folk music and similar topics, I am working in the only field that is left, namely the crime scene reporting. These photographs have proven to be more close to life, and in my case much more complex than paparazzo and show biz photographs. The situations happening around crime scenes are situations like for example the case on ″Branko's bridge″ one year ago during a suicide attempt of one young man, when one passer by photographed her children with all the commotion in the background. The case of a renowned photographer who could not resist publishing the photographs of her late lover Susan Sontag lying on her hospital bed, which brought her a law suit by the deceased's son, is very famous. All these circumstances are very inspirational for experimental photography which I am doing in the field, following the crime scene news, but also photographing the situations from a different, wider perspective, so that besides the actual situation the frame contains my self-portrait or some of my accessories, e.g. shoes or similar. I even sometimes ask my colleagues to photograph me while I'm photographing a certain situation. The project is realized through cooperation with the local newspaper.

Newsreel on fashion in Biella 2010

On the set with… …Aleksandrija Ajdukovic beyond fashion… “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, on the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Coco Chanel “We all deal with fashion, but who the hell is dealing with the essence? Who is dealing with man?” Sam Zoric, a gardener from Gornji Slaveci, quoted in the book “People Talking About Fashion” by Spaso Cankovic story: Miroslav Karic photo: Aleksandrija Ajdukovic, private archive Writer and fashion journalist Spaso Cankovic starts the cult 1980s book People Talking About Fashion, instead of with an introduction, with quotes from another pearl of writing: Small Town Philosophy by writer and philosopher Radomir Konstantinovic. Citing Konstantinovic’s thoughts about the spirit of the small town, the diktats of the collective, unsuitable individualism, Cankovic provides an important benchmark for his research: style, delving into the sphere behind tailoring, textiles, buttons to give an authentic depiction of a society and era. With a series of interviews with people from various professions, of various ages and interests from all over Yugoslavia, the author put together a unique document/chronicle about a region that, a few years after the book was published, was to make war fashionable and introduce the military uniform as a fashion hit, along with the must-have accessory for all seasons – a grenade and an AK-47. Regardless of the specifics of the case in question, fashion and clothing in this study primarily served Cankovic as a universal phenomenon through which all social, cultural and civilizational trends, refractions and developments can be tracked and reviewed. A topic sufficiently intriguing, also inspiring for the photographer Aleksandrija Ajdukovic, who has for many years now based her work on exploring the relationship between clothing, clothing preferences, fashion and related phenomena, and everyday life. Carrying out photo projects in different environments (domestic and foreign, urban and rural), Aleksandrija most often focuses on ordinary people, their experiences, views and opinions on what some see as a necessity and an important factor of socialization, while others perceive it as a way of distancing, as individualization or a purely aesthetic act. She approaches people honestly, directly, photographing them and talking to them while they patiently pose for her and answer her questions on the street, or in their working and living spaces. Those photographs would not have brought anything new had it not been for Aleksandrija’s extraordinary sense of potential of the photographed person, both visually and within the story had it not been for her “eye” and “nose” for situations in which to best capture life. Without embellishment, without additional editing, without the desire to idealize them or add a dose of criticism and cynicism to their presentations, Aleksandrija understands her “models” and respects their authenticity. In her case fashion remains merely a frame, a background for what essentially interests her the most, and that is man “of flesh blood and ideas,” the individual caught in a net of historical, social, political and economic trends. Thus Ajdukovic’s portraits take on the contours of a sort of socio-anthropological study they become a first-class document in the study of everyday life, the sphere in which the exoticness of human existence finds its full expression. The breadth and number of references offered to us by Aleksandrija’s projects indicate the complexity of her work, the key aspects of which are cooperation and trust, which the author skilfully establishes with her “collocutors-models,” which results in extremely sincere, spontaneous, often funny stories that communicate well with the observer. Although in your artistic research you focus on a very slippery terrain such as fashion, or simply clothing, and although some of the titles of your photo cycles (Tigresses, Fashion, Fashion Journal) offer direct associations to the imperatives and diktates inevitable in that field, your works however are not a direct criticism of the replaceability of fashion trends or their blind following there is no parody or elaboration of mass psychology. The focus of your work is the individual, who cannot be described as the image of an imposed aesthetic ideal... The spotlight is on popular culture, but not as a separate reality, rather only and exclusively according to the character of the person being photographed. Perhaps it is more precise to say that in your case, fashion is the starting point, an intriguing field in which all these refractions of the values of societies and cultures, class and gender relations are registered. But in fact its true role in your work is what you’ve presented as a thesis on the McGuffin effect, i.e. something that should spark our imagination, lead us into the real plot... According to the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language, Hitchcock explains the term “McGuffin” at a lecture he gave at the University of Columbia in 1939: “We have a name at the studio, we call it ‘McGuffin’. It is a mechanical element that arises in every story. In films about frauds, it is almost always a necklace, while in spy films they are almost always papers.” In Fashion Journal, fashion plays the part of McGuffin. Interpreting certain aspects of fashion as the dominant content of this work would lead us to a dead end. Also, interpreting the symbols pertaining to fashion and clothing would not be exempt from a degree of banalization. In order to capture life and vitality more easily in an unpretentious and light way (or at least so that it seems so), the McGuffin effect of fashion is used. McGuffin’s ambivalence also facilitates the ambivalence of action or draws out the main preoccupation of the author of the work. You often photographed the participants of your first works on the street, in a space which you yourself say annuls all hierarchical differences and barriers between people, while with the latest series your increasingly place them on their own, in more intimate environments (houses, offices etc). I assume that has something to do with the development of your approach to the topic, i.e. from the first documentation of certain phenomena through to the desire to better reach the essence of the story by means of certain staged situations and more intense communication with participants... The approach to the models in Fashion Journal is openly directorial, but in circumstances and situations that suit them, in which they feel safe and convincing, without the desire to excessively disrupt their time and daily rhythm. The models are within their own field of experience. The collocutors, i.e. models, are people of different generations, ethnic groups, social classes, depending on the environment I’m in. I give people the roles of models and thereby pervert the type of perfect model who wears designer clothes, and that adds to the imaginitiveness of an individual in flesh and blood. This work, by involving people not known to the wider or narrower public, bears the characteristics of home, family or affective photography, because it often looks like it was made at home, and the participants are people we have no opinion of. They’re not famous and have no special characteristics that would immediately indicate photogeneity, i.e. what is worth photographing. One of the more important, if not the most important moment in your artistic engagement also includes working with the people you photograph. What do you tell them, do you try to explain to them in the simplest terms what kind of project they’re participating in? You’ve worked with various generations, professions and in various environments... Do you keep track of how many people you’ve worked with? Does the cooperation end up with the shooting orwere the subjects involved in additional processes, such as photo selection and the like? What is it that eventually “convinces” them to pose for you and talk to you? Maybe the magic word “fashion?” Trust? The desire to really say something on the subject? Exhibitionism? I don’t keep exact records, but I’ve worked with over a thousand people. I have a very direct and honest approach, I immediately acquaint people with the possibilities of the development of our conversation, the photo shoot etc. People probably recognize that and estimate that they have nothing to lose if they give me some of their time, which I treat as the most valuable thing and do not usurp it overly. The people who cooperate with me do so gladly and are exhibitionists to an extent, just as I am a voyeur. How much do you deal with problematizing stereotypes, prejudice and myths through this project? I mostly deal with the people’s Zen, actually. By inviting people to play models, I actually invite them to carnivalize, to wear carnival masks, because the everyday nature of their appearance is overemphasized here and is seemingly abolished. The carnival spirit is for everyone, it is celebratory and utopian, with a deep view of the world. Here, in the given circumstances, by posing for pseudo-fashion photographs I come the closest to the carnival spirit. Maybe that way it’s easier to capture vitality. People pose in a certain exaggerated manner, the way they have seen it in fashion magazines, sometimes consciously parodying dailyness, as if they are cursing, and curse words, when viewed separately, as “semantically separate entities perceived as proverbs.” Proverbiality or the people’s Zen. In the first few series you started with photography, then at some point text joined the photography, then came the first interviews, whereas in your latest work you also introduced a video. If the point of the text was to explain and fill in all the gaps in non-verbal communication, what new dimension has the video added to the story? Newsreel on Fashion in 2010 is an 18-minute experimental video, whose form resembles journals, film forms. In the days before television, this type of film was, logically, the most popular one. The film journal carried events of historic, political, cultural and sporting importance better that any other medium. The distance produced by time and technological progress is very exciting, and when the models talk about fashion it’s as if we were watching a retro educational reality program, which never existed as such. Perhaps timelessness is that new dimension. To what extent are differences present between how and in what clothes the participants are photographed and their talk of fashion and clothing, and how important is that for your research? The use of the text stimulates tension between the factual and desired reality: what the models wish to tell us could be denied by the photograph and vice versa. As the tension rises, so does the excitement in viewing. I often use photo sequences and text in order to explore the emotions and philosophy of the scenes photographed or the circumstances in which the photographed scenes are created. The pictures and text shape the unique body of the work. I find the performance element of your work very interesting, i.e. regardless of whether you are making a “fashion” series or projects with a more reporting approach, you - simply put - take on the role of “fashion” photographer or photo reporter… Have other photographic/working experiences you’ve had in the press helped you in that? Performance is an integral part of my work. Experience has helped me gain greater control of the photographic part, which means I spend the rest of my time and energy on designing that performance, scene etc. How would you connect the photo series dealing with the fashion phenomenon, characterized by a laidback stance and a dose of humour, to one of your latest projects entitled Crime Scene? Might we speak of fashion photography in the latter case? Today there is practically not a single daily newspaper that has remained immune to sensational photos, crime scenes and accidents, which unfortunately can conspicuously boost their sales... The photographs in the crime and accident section of a newspaper, although often unpleasant to the point of being unbearable, represent aesthetically attractive material for global consumption, despite their obvious technical imperfection. How do you plan to develop Fashion Journal further? Do you also see it as part of what is currently the major distributor of information and channel of communication – the Internet? Facebook has proven to be the most popular in that area, hence I will most likely experiment on the popular “Face”. This program boasts majestic possibilities if I think about the subject of the Fashion Journal, because it has excellent applications for photos, text and video: all three elements of the work.