With luck there’ll be no more dreams

With luck there’ll be no more dreams

Inspired by Ballard’s Drowned world, I’m exploring everyday places, objects that inhabit them and the environments that surround them. By displaying daily routines that happen on the territory of an island in which I’ve spent a limited amount of time, I direct our attention toward the vegetation, picturesque sceneries and narratives that are soon to be lost. Also, through painting, I aim to preserve and share memories of events that, once lived, just pass.

Lidija Delić

With dreams

Life has become fast and not much needs to be said about that. Perhaps there’s nothing to be said anymore, about our survival strategies in the Anthropocene, about money left in therapy, self-care, self-preservation, self-help, fear of missing out, anxiety, for the sake of being in the moment, travels that are merely distractions, joy that translates into documentation. About dreams that we don’t even want. Everything that’s been written in this direction, whatever the intention, puts one final straw on the back of a generation that feels this absolute imperative to live in the moment.

And for a while now, I can’t bring back the feeling of the “everyday”. Ever since I started dealing with exhibitions, I’ve been trying to summon it. Surely I’m not the only one who doesn’t always feel like beauty is beautiful. Perhaps contemporary art spaces often seem so unremarkable, seemingly merged with everyday life, because our everyday life lacks ordinariness. Things that are simply given and that should be there by default become objects of special value, when it comes to air and water, but also when it comes to truth and oblivion, and our right to them. Beauty is no longer a category of the image or of space, but of time and presence (absence).

Lidija’s new works translate this beautiful / ordinary paradox to the viewers so clearly. Basic things: food, bed, chair, windows, even the self-portrait of the artist living on an island where someone’s day-to-day becomes extraordinary to someone else, all guide us to a place where worlds gently clash; places of isolation and spaces of exploration, of the mind and the heart. Through large formats, fluorescent colours and a haunting presence of absence, the spectator enters a moment that indeed has been kept, that now lasts visually. Time is what’s missing, but time is also what these paintings are about, which is how Lidija Delić subtly enters the French poststructuralist narrative: a trace of that which is not there, in what’s there, overpowering all objects that surface on canvas.

In the end, I’ve spent most of my time looking at the salmon-sandwich painting. Beside the fact that eating salmon every day is one thing in Iceland and another in Belgrade, raw fish is also an excellent metaphor. Raw, but not alive, it needs to be eaten fast because otherwise it becomes toxic; isn’t that strongly associated with the idea that we need to live fast but also stay grounded in the velocity (in other words – carpe diem, but also stay mentally and physically healthy)? In conversation with this image, the second part of the diptych shows an improvised lighthouse. There’s an orange triangle on it, giving out an unclear instruction (at least it’s not clear to me). It doesn’t tell us to stop or to go, it just makes us look. Putting these two motives together, and by analogy this happens in the four other diptychs as well, Lidija Delić gives us an impossible task, to be there, but also inside the image, to spend her time and to spend it with her, but also to find our own breaking points, moments when food becomes poison. And then, just to pay attention – neither stop, nor go – just to notice, the colour orange, to breathe air, to eat food, to look at one’s own hands. Ordinary things.

Natalija Paunić



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