/, Gallery, Blesok no. 150/THE BANALITY OF EVIL


dr Sanja Kojić Mladenov

Most evil is committed by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.
(Hannah Arendt)


The artistic research of Monika Moteska and Robert Jankuloski, with its narrative, belongs to a wide field of artistic expressions that give importance to the culture of memory. Present for several decades through various theoretical, scientific, artistic and cultural practices, the culture of memory is increasingly important not only in constituting history “written by winners”, its mythologising and criticism, but also in the context of building personal and collective identities – gender, racial, ethnic, religious, social and others… Actualised especially during critical socio-political periods, it is used for interdisciplinary examination and consideration of memories of traumatic phenomena and relationships, sometimes suppressed from social reality and the media environment. As collective identities are built through the diverse voices of witnesses, remembering traumatic experiences serve as a condition for identity development, and according to theorist Dalia Ofer, a narrative that interprets traumatic experiences can be understood as a “health narrative”[1].

Emphasizing the importance of every factor in historical processes, the authors introduce the landscape into the concept of the exhibition at the Venice Biennale, as an interlocutor of artistic work, that is, a silent witness to the socio-political, social, economic and cultural history of their own environment. Monika and Robert’s approach to one of the basic themes in art history, such as landscape, is not imbued with the idea of ​​enjoyment and presentation of its aesthetic, natural characteristics, as was common in the past, but also today with the expansion of digital camera. Moreover, the goal is not to conquer or intervene within the landscape, as is done in land art and other avant-garde practices. Namely, it is more a process of finding, analysing and recording the places of its changes, perceiving inorganic/atypical situations as silent bearers of traces of the past and forgotten or untold traumatic/painful stories, in the spirit of neo-conceptual and neo-contextual contemporary media art.

The concept of the exhibition works through the interrelation of the artistic practice of each of the authors who, regardless of the differences and specifics of personal discourses, harmonize in questioning the common value field connected by the concept of landscape experience. It is a question of researching the archaeology of space, the stratification of abandoned and forgotten landscapes within the collective cultural remembrance/memory and reviving the “presence of the absent”. The relationships of life and death, beautiful and ugly, healthy and poisonous, form the basis of the authors’ critical approach, topics they both have previously dealt with in different but close ways.

The questions they ask are directly focused on the connection of environmental issues, with corporate imperialism, gender perspectives, theses on natives, collective identities and the importance of decolonization of not only history but also nature. They discuss power relations in society and the dangers of fighting each other through mindless wars (whether explicit or implicit, real or psychological, physical or chemical) and the conquest of nature through increasingly aggressive neoliberal exploitation and misuse of basic resources. They explore the issues of human freedoms, responsibilities and consequences of their actions, and the issue of the survival of humanity as a value of modern society. They shed light on the accumulated problems, pointing out the importance of establishing a new order that would provide the possibility of overcoming the anthropocentric view on the world, thus questioning the Anthropocene, the presumed new epoch of the planet Earth.

The geopolitical context from which they start is visible in their previous professional practice. Through his many years of research, Robert Jankuloski has found and collected many old photographs, on the basis of which he founded the Macedonian Centre for Photography in Skopje, where Monika Moteska is also actively involved. The preservation of valuable historical and artistic material also aims to shed light on the unpredictable past. (As it is written on a medieval apocrypha from a Macedonian monastery – The present is here, The future is unknown, The past is the most unpredictable). Cycles of photographs by Robert Jankuloski, such as Wounded Landscapes (since 2015), Remains of Memory (2014) or World War I – Remembering (2020), show places and objects immersed in history.

Throughout its history, the Balkans have been the scene of struggles to seize territory, kill, rob and rape. Due to its historical diversity and communities of Christian, Muslim and Jewish culture, as well as its specific crossroads of East and West, North and South, it is perceived in international politics as the periphery of Europe and a place of potential conflicts. The recent wars of the 1990s, which followed the brutal dissolution of Yugoslavia (SFRY), left their mark through the militarization of states and society, nationalism, genocide, population migration, international sanctions, hyperinflation, economic poverty, bombing, too long a transition… How much of the experience of war remains present in the memory of the country and its inhabitants, how much the landscape remembers, how much of the violence and evil are transmitted genetically, through memory to all of us, how much cultural codes, archetypes and stereotypes follow us, and whether war remains permanently present in the air of the country in which our ancestors and friends are buried, question the artists, Monika Moteska and Robert Jankuloski through their concept.

[1]    Dalia Ofer, „Testimonies in the Study of Health and Medicine in the Ghetto”, Poetics Today vol. 27 (2) (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), in Nina Mihaljinac,

2023-06-08T11:41:47+00:00 June 6th, 2023|Categories: Reviews, Gallery, Blesok no. 150|Comments Off on THE BANALITY OF EVIL