Critics’ Picks

Bojan Fajfrić, Unfinished Business (still), 2016-2017, HD, color, sound, 18 minutes 4 seconds.

Belgrade

Bojan Fajfrić

Cultural Centre of Belgrade (KCB)
Knez Mihailova 6
November 8 - December 6

Bojan Fajfrić’s exhibition “Unfinished Business” presents three related videos, weaving a story that starts on the street and defies any linear or cyclical model of time. The Confluence, 2012–18, reworks national-television footage of Belgrade’s 1988 Brotherhood and Unity Rally, its aerial views capturing people flowing into the site, forming a dense flags-and-banners-waving crowd. Saxophonist Pharoah Sanders’s 1976 piece “Harvest Time” serves as a soundtrack to the footage, its title underscoring The Confluence’s lesson: We may reap what we sow, but the harvest is unpredictable. The meandering twenty-minute song ends before the footage concludes; the silence invites us to imagine other compositions.

Theta Rhythm, 2010, presents the artist’s meticulous reenactment of the last day of the Eighth Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Serbia from the perspective of Mirko Fajfrić, his father and the Belgrade City Committee’s deputy chief of staff. Presided over by Slobodan Milošević, September 24, 1987, ushered the nationalist, reactionary party into power and is often regarded as the genesis of Yugoslavia’s partition, ethnic conflict with Kosovo, and war. On that fateful day, live on national television, the artist’s father fell asleep during the crucial vote. Now, we see Fajfrić’s reenactment of the moments when history invaded his personal story. The work’s title refers to a brain-wave pattern linked to memory formation and navigation that occurs during light sleep and arousal.

Unfinished Business, 2016–17, reverses the roles: Fajfrić’s father plays a dying artist in a live-work studio full of books, records, slides, drawings, and notebooks. The camera pays loving attention to a reel-to-reel player and a turntable, casting music in a leading role. Renowned avant-garde drummer Han Bennink’s playful onscreen bebop performance is edited into a call-and-response with the artist’s struggle to drag himself across the studio floor. He moans and eventually surrenders. Just as the revolution promised by modernism and bebop is yet to be fulfilled, so is the cosmopolitan project in the Balkans.