Bojan Sarcevic


A glass case at the center of the gallery contained four rolls of semitransparent paper. But these were not continuous sheets, nor did they have straight edges. Rather, they had been pieced together from clippings with irregular edges, strips of tracing paper marked with graphite lines, the borders broken by extremely precise curved or rectilinear cuts. It might have seemed like a huge expenditure of energy, a great effort transformed into a simple image, one that might have been obtained with greater economy. But it was nothing of the sort. Sarcevic concentrates on throwaways, neglected signs that he finds to have profound meaning in and of themselves. In this case, Mies’s Leftover (all works 2002) was created by collecting scraps of tracing paper from the floor of an architect's office. When one realues this, everything becomes clearer, and the intention behind the form comes to the surface. In exhibiting the rolls of paper, the Belgrade-born artist (now living in Paris) was showing not only the leftovers of a work but more specifically the process that generated those remnants. Looking carefully at the clippings, one could imagine the moment of the cut and, moving backward, mentally reconstruct the drawing of the outlines for the construction of a model—a pilaster is rectangular, a wall is linear, an open door is a semicircle, and so on. Reversing the process of subtraction that leads to a discarding of what isn’t needed, we obtain new data, information about the past and its traces, descriptions of a specific experience. From a simple group of rolled up sheets, two-dimensional paper surfaces, we can work our way back to three-dimensional volumes and imagine a piece of architecture by someone like Mies van der Rohe—all through a chain of mental associations.

On the walls of the gallery were a group of snapshots. One depicted an African house’s exterior wall, built with a great variety of bricks (Home); two others depicted the artist’s studio floors made of an agglomeration of different woods (Untitled)—images of collected refuse which have been gathered in turn from the leftovers of Sarcevic’s own working process. Even Paris’s outskirts, in Cimetière Mont-Rouge (Mont-Rouge cemetery), appear as a kind of urban detritus. Fountain, made of an image cut out of a newspaper, shows a pyramid of bricks spurting a jet of water, bloodred in color. This is a monument in Tehran to the soldiers lost in the Iran-Iraq war. The rough and simplified appearance of the fountain carried out its commemorative intention to excess: a public monument, inconceivable in the West, that grotesquely embodies the symbolism of death and sacrifice. Such signs, removed from the context for which they were created, still bear a heavy weight on their own. These are traces captured through photography, newspaper clippings, other people’s discards, or even remains of installations. Untitled, 2002, is a life-size trace: an accumulation of planks of wood and wood shavings, reproducing in shape and dimension the remains of a piece Sarcevic once made. It, too, entices us to reconstruct what is visible only through its remains.

Filippo Romeo

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.