Bojana Pejic

Working on the Face

The face is politics. Deleuze/Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 1987

When asked to describe his artistic practice, Milovan DeStil Markovic usually states that in the last ten years, he has been “working on the face.”[1] On a theoretical level, this work has entailed his inquiry into the social production of the face. On the level of artistic practice, his focus shifted from installations to painting, and around 1995, he started to "produce faces"; this production resulted in a body of work he came to name Transfigurative Portraits

The Face

Markovic commenced researching the representation of the human face in various religious traditions and then turned to the secular context, exploring the presence of the face in the public iconosphere. These investigations helped him acknowledge that the human face is not a universal category, but that its production is fully dependent on the immediate social surroundings in which the face appears: it may appear in religious art, in secular "high" art, in mass culture, on a street billboard; the face is also worked on in everyday life, where the acts of “putting on a face” (by wearing make-up or shaving, for example) are performed daily. Moreover, all these diverse productions of the face that we encounter in one culture are not fixed and stable, but change over time,[2] and, furthermore, they are, as a rule, not shared by all the members of the society but only by some of them. How are we, then, to define the face? Perhaps it is best to turn to Thomas Laqueur and paraphrase his “Archimedean point” as regards the human body: the face could be well defined as a space between the real, transcultural

[1] An unpublished interview with the artist, Berlin, May 2000.
[2] Danish art historian, Simon Sheikh, remarked that in the media culture of the 1980s, “having a face” was quite significant for those AIDS-scared times, when “the face was once again the essence of the body.” He holds that in the more physical 1990s, “the body” came back. Sheikh, “Close-up, Face Off - Contemporary Art, Film and Fragmentation,” in Lene Crone and Lars Movin, Eds., Close-Ups, ex. cat., Copenhagen: Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, 1999, 96.

face and its representation.[3] This space between is an interactive sphere, which, according to Norman Bryson, consists of "the complex interaction among all the practices which make up the sphere of culture: the scientific, military, medical, intellectual and religious practices, the legal and political structures, the structure of class, sexuality and economic life, in the given society.”[4] In this social space, which differs from culture to culture, the concept of the face is being negotiated and formulated, constructed and deconstructed, theorized and pictured, worn and taken off.

All these observation should be, I think, taken into consideration when we discuss the genre of portrait painting today. Traditionally, the making of the portrait was based on co-presence, i.e., proximity of the sitter and artist; in the last thirty or so years, this convention has been irrevocably lost and today there is hardly a relevant painter who paints people according to nature. Instead, today’s painters rely mainly on those faces that are looking at us from city posters, TV screens or newspapers. These faces are often defined as “machines of intimacy” since they suggest closeness, but only simulate proximity. Due to this, faces have become media of presence-at-distance, as Manfred Fassler put it.[5] In producing portraits, artists manufacture representations after representations, using as a "model" an already-made image - the image produced in/by mass media (press photography, film, television, Internet and occasionally, art history). In other words, in painting portraits, contemporary artists rely on faces that have been previously instituted in mass media without sharing modernism’s longing for an "origin" or "original presence." Guy Debord would say that they take a position of “spectators,” given that they keep to the “second-hand” experience.[6] In repeating faces from the

[3] Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex - Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, Cambridge, Mass., and London: Harvard University Press, 1992, 16.
[4] Norman Bryson, “Semiology and Visual Interpretation,” in N. Bryson et al., Eds., Visual Theory: Painting and Interpretation, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991, 72.
[5] Manfred Fassler’s term “Fernanwesenheit” (presence-at-distance) is cited in Thomas Macho, “Das prominente Gesicht: Notizen zur Politisierung der Sichtbarkeit,” in Sabine R. Arnold et al., Eds, Politische Inszenierung im 20. Jahrhundert: Zur Sinnlichkeit der Macht, Wien et al.: Böhlau, 1998, 171.
[6] Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, Detroit: Black & Red, 1983. [original: La société du spectacle, Paris: Editions Buchet-Chastel, 1967.]

media, today’s portrait producers maintain the major imperative of the portrait genre, which is similarity between the portrayed subject and his or her representation. In producing a "copy" of a face that has already been worked on by another medium, however, they end up with a figurative image.

This is exactly where Markovic starts. His transfigurative works are all portraits, which, however, do not show faces. Instead of making "copies" endowed with physical resemblance, he presents us with the simulacrum, which, as Deleuze wrote, “calls into question the very notion of the copy and the model.”[7] Since the mid-1990s, he has been working on three series, of which Self Shaves, consisting of eighteen self-portraits, is completed (2000-2001) and the other two, Lipstick Portraits and Text Portraits, are still in progress. Lipstick Portraits (initiated in 1995) is an open series comprising up to now twelve paintings of renowned women from Asia, South and North America, and Europe. For each portrait, the artist employs a different lipstick color that for him corresponds to the woman’s cultural background and race. The lipstick paint is uniformly rubbed onto the velvet surface, covering its original color. After the application of the lipstick, which, like a new "skin," protects the soft surface, the velvet is stretched and mounted with a golden frame. In portraying women, some of whom are regarded as “icons” of our time, Markovic does not repeat their faces, which are familiar to us due to their (over-) presence in the media of mass reproduction. Instead, he shapes the women’s individuality with utterly pictorial means (by a particular color of lipstick), but indicates their identities with a nominalist gesture, i.e., via their names presented on metal plates placed on the lower side of the frames.

In Lipstick Portraits, Markovic approaches his "models" as discursive figures whose fame, "image" and ultimately, "charisma," are in great part produced through their visibility in mass media, and in fact, for us mortals, they only exist in and by visual representations. In Homeless project (a series started in 2002), Markovic deals with an opposite politics of representation that involves

[7] Gilles Deleuze, “Plato and the Simulacrum “ [1969] cited in Hal Foster, The Return of the Real, Cambridge, Mass., and London: The MIT Press, 1996, 104.

the production of invisibility of a particular social group - homeless men. In undoing such politics, Markovic conceived of an ongoing project of contextual art practice that has so far been performed in Belgrade, Tokyo, and Berlin. The artist carries out video interviews with homeless men and then, after selecting a particular fragment indicative of the men’s lives or worldview, "translates" video statements into the medium of painting: the resulting "image" is a text portrait. The statements are first printed on large-scale canvas, and afterward colored by hand with skin-tone pigments. Besides video scenes and text portraits that are shown in a gallery space, in each of the cities where the project has evolved, one text portrait of a homeless man is installed on a city façade. Once in the public space, the portrait of the homeless man and a rather personal story about his individual (and destitute) social condition enters into competition with images/signs of commercial and political promotion.

The Icon

Before he commenced working on the face, Markovic went trough a working period he retrospectively called “preparing the ground.”[8] Although this phrase is commonly used by painters who prepare canvases and paints for their paintings, in Markovic’s case, this phrase has a specific connotation that does not come from contemporary painting practices, but from icon painting. This was a tradition that he acknowledged only after he completed his studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade.

Markovic started exhibiting in the early 1980s, in a decade that was marked by a “return to painting.” Operation painting, which then boomed on the international art market, was carried out by a new generation of painters who recycled traditional artistic role models and conditions of production and did not have many problems with the role of art as commodity. The figures of the genius and the "hero-painter" (as a rule, a male painter) of the 1980s microwaved, as it were, the notion of high art and authorship that had been thoroughly questioned during the 1970s. In contrast with his colleagues in the former Yugoslavia who became seduced by figurative expression and who vacillated between the

[8] Unpublished interview with the artist, Berlin 1997.

German Neue Wilde and the Italian Transavanguardia, Markovic did not find the politics of expression, art of appropriation and cynicism typical of the 1980s appealing. He has instead shown inclination towards the conceptual and iconoclastic strategies of post-'68 art; since the beginning of his career, he has never restricted himself to using just one medium, but has rather worked with non-painting media such as installation, performance, photography, and, occasionally, video. While there was a trend in Belgrade known as New Wave Painting,[9] Markovic, more than any other member of his generation, was directly involved in the New Wave music scene: besides taking part in exhibitions, he was organizing art and music events at the Faculty of Fine Arts, and even producing set design for cultural programs of TV Belgrade. In this, his position among his art colleagues in Belgrade was indeed unique.

After finishing his studies of painting under professors who were either abstract painters or who at least offered their students an education informed by the modernist canon, Markovic immediately turned down stretched canvas as well as the concept of the “finish fetish.” He was much more interested in the process and therefore commenced working with given gallery spaces transforming them into “total environments” or spatial paintings, having, however, limited duration. These works with/in real space, which directly involved the viewers, manifested his interest in an art with direct social and utopian disposition. Yet another element was involved in his spatial works, on a both theoretical and practical level: besides his interest in modernist heritage left by Ives Klein, Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, Markovic turned to explore a tradition he adopted as his own. This was the Byzantine “doctrine of the icon,” which had established a particular "theory of the image" and promoted a specific relation to space; this theory and its subsequent applications in Byzantine and later Serbian Christian Orthodox medieval art were to become central to Markovic’s understanding of pictorial space.

The icon doctrine, formulated during the iconoclastic controversies in Byzantium (730-786, and 813-843) postulated the icon as a sign of the "invisible God." Byzantine scholar Marie-José Mondzain points out: “The doctrine of the icon is a

[9] Cf. Lidija Merenik, Beograd: osamdesete [Belgrade: the 1980s], Novi Sad: Prometej, 1995.

long construction of the procedures that make it possible to reproduce without showing, to attain the invisible in the visible, to show divine infinity without locking it in the idolatrous enclosure of the drawn line and contours.”[10] It is true that in many other religious traditions, the play of visibility and invisibility has an equally important role, but Byzantine theoreticians and practitioners elaborated a specific, if not unique, relation to painted space exemplified in the invention of the reversed perspective. The icon painter is to avoid the third dimension, the “dimension of the body,” because it is considered to be an obstacle for reaching the “forth dimension,” that of the soul.[11] As it left the "dimension of matter" behind, Byzantine art invented ways of depicting bodies in a state of weightlessness. What mattered now was the face: “In order to represent the depth of man’s internal life, art no longer needed to evoke the body’s harmonious proportions; now it concentrated attention on the characteristic features of the face and its expressivity, on the eyes, the lips and the wrinkles of the face of these ascetics whose dematerialized, stiff bodies remain suspended in a space, as if they were ‘not of this world’.”[12] Due to the animosity towards three-dimensional representations that found its peak in the iconoclastic wars, freestanding sculpture gradually disappeared from Byzantine sacral art. What remained, in the way of sculptural work, was only the bas-relief that appeared either as a part of architecture or as a "frame" for the icons in the iconostasis. Consequently, the site where the image (eikon) is situated is merely a flat surface - the wall is a support for frescos, the floor for mosaics, wooden panels for the portable icons and last but not least, the surface of golden or silver coins.[13]

[10] Marie-José Mondzain, “The Holy Shroud,” in Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, Eds., Iconoclash, Karlsruhe: ZKM, 2002, 327.
[11] Eric Alliez and Michel Feher, “Reflections of a Soul,” in M. Feher et al., Eds., Fragments for a History of the Human Body, Part  One, New York: Zone, 1989, 47-84.
[12] P. A. Michelis quoted in E. Alliez and M. Feher, ibid., 76
[13] During the iconoclastic controversies, it was seriously discussed whether the face of the "divine ruler" (Christ) or his "earthly representative" (the emperor) should appear on the metal money. Thus, the dispute over icons deeply implicated two indivisible - and at the same time invisible - things: political power and economy. See Marie-José Mondzain, Image, icône, économie, Paris: Éditions du Seuil 1996.

In his installations of the early 1980s, Markovic was primarily concerned with flatness and thus used the wall of the “white cube” as support and frame for his works. At that time, he worked with paper and produced unstretched canvases coated with bitumen and golden signs. In doing so, he did not resort to citation or reprise of iconographic models emerging in Byzantine and medieval art; rather, as an associate of the Russian/Soviet avant-garde, Malevich in particular, Markovic linked non-objectivity with spirituality, examining not forms but the “effects of the icon”[14] in contemporary culture.

Upon his arrival in West Berlin in 1986, Markovic opened his series titled Prototypes.[15] It included a number of installations composed of sculptural and painted units that occupied not only the walls but also gallery floors. [photo] Some elements staged in these spatial works were designed for a particular exhibition site and lasted only temporarily, and some others had an independent existence as specific objects in which Markovic continued exploring spatial and pictorial potentials of the icon tradition (the golden aureoles indicating the presence of the face, and the use of wax, for example). At that time, he introduced into his practice elements of the ready-made, such as Euro-palettes, for example, serving as the “carriers” of frail materials (wax and gold). Markovic considers that with the Prototypes of the early 1990s, he accomplished his “work on the ground” and started formulating his prime artistic objective: “the work on the face.”

The Transfigurative

Around 1995, Milovan Markovic began making portraits, but in revisiting an old genre, he neglected portraiture’s conventional capability to disclose a resemblance. Indeed, both his Lipstick Portraits and Text Portraits manifest a radical detour from the tradition of “realistic” or iconic imagery. Given that none of these portraits deliver what is expected from a portrait in the Western context, a display of the face, it is easy to conclude that Markovic tries - and even

[14] See B. Pejic “The Icon Effect,” in Avant-Garde: Masterpieces of the Costakis Collection, ex. cat., Thessalonica: State Museum of Contemporary Art, 2000, 44-58.
[15] See, B. Pejic, “Die Goldene Dimension,” in Farbe Gold, ex. cat., Berlin: Ars Nicolai, 1992.

succeeds - to produce portraits emptied of images. The reverse is true. Markovic’s portraits do offer us faces, but do not seduce us with their representational aspect. We could label these portraits “abstract,” “non-figurative” or even “post-figurative.” Markovic, however, calls them transfigurative.

The term transfigurative has a double meaning for Markovic. It suggests, first, that his portraiture lies beyond and on the other side of the figurative. His female and male portraits are pictorial representations in which he is ceaselessly testing what lies behind the possibility of iconification. The notion of transfigurative cannot be fully understood if we disregard the cultural and artistic traditions that lie behind it: the heritage of the twentieth century’s abstraction and the post-cubist pictorial space, which, as modernist theoreticians used to claim, managed to prevail over a centuries-long “terror of the representational.” The modernist picture space, as earlier with Byzantine icons, is conceived in terms of flatness and thus it must avoid any perspective illusion of the third dimension as it was instituted in the Renaissance. In the context of modern art, this first occurred with the cubist revolution, which, according to Clement Greenberg at least, freed painting from representation,[16] in which the non-representational is taken to be a substitute for non-figurative.

However, in discussing the advent of abstract painting, Francis Frascina reveals an important aspect involved in its reception, claiming that, “the concept of non-figurative as a deliberate mode presupposes that figurative is what is normally expected.” Such a theoretical position challenges a long-lived modernist doctrine shared by the pioneers of abstraction and their later followers, for whom “pure” abstract art (painting in particular) had inevitably broken all the ties with first-hand reality: this detachment brought about art’s full autonomy. Frascina departs from modernist essentialism and proffers instead an approach in which the strict boundary between the abstract and the representational is actually blurred: “[T]he possibility of abstract paintings being seen as paintings (that is to say, as potential forms of high art) depends upon our tendency to look at their surfaces as

[16] See Peter Osborne, “Modernism, Abstraction and the Return to Painting,” in P. Osborne, with A. Benjamin, Eds., Thinking Art: Beyond Traditional Aesthetics, London: ICA 1991.

other than merely flat - to look at them, in fact, as potentially figurative.”[17] This occurs, it seems to me, when we look at Markovic’s transfigurative works, as they entail a process of going through the figurative. One can describe the transfigurative portraits as those that are no longer and not yet figurative: no longer, as the initial image (the model) for the portraits, which comes from the media iconosphere (press and electronic means in the case of Lipstick Portraits, and the video interviews in Text Portraits) is here re-presented in such a way that the portrayed face does not resemble its media original; not yet, because as soon as we read the title of the work and understand that we are looking at a portrait, we must activate our visual memory and project onto the “empty” surfaces the face we know from the media.

The term transfigurative has in Markovic’s work yet another meaning. Even though the spiritual routine of “unveiling the face” (so crucial for the making of traditional icons) was important for his formation, the notion of transfiguration here loses its original religious connotation.[18] The transfigurative should rather be understood as his artistic procedure, a modus operandi common, as it were, to the painters and photographers involved in portraiture: they actually transfigure, i.e., transform the three-dimensional reality (the human body, the face) in an attempt to obtain its planate translation - an image on flat surface that is freed of the “ballast of the objective world,” as Malevich had once put it.

In dealing with the medium of the face, however, Markovic does not make up portraits that involve a degree of likeness to or identity with the persons he has chosen as models: his portraits are indeed faceless. It may, therefore, seem that the artist breaks here with Western pictorial practices in which the notion of the portrait is premised on the idea of resemblance or likeness. In elaborating on the ideology of images, W.J.T. Mitchell discusses a notion of image as likeness and comes to the opposite conclusion. He argues that in our tradition, the word “image”

[17] Francis Frascina, “Abstraction,” in Charles Harrison et al., Eds., Primitivism, Cubism, Abstraction - The Early Twentieth Century, New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1993, 203. (italics in original)
[18] “Transfiguration” - a sign of the radiant appearance of Christ on a mountain peak before three of his disciples.

is taken to be a “resolutely non- or even anti-pictorial notion.“ He explains: “This is the tradition which begins, of course, with the account of man’s creation ‘in the image and likeness’ of God. The words we now translate as ‘image’ (the Hebrew tselem, the Greek eikon, and the Latin imago) are properly understood, […] not as any material picture, but as an abstract, general, spiritual ‘likeness.’ The regular addition, after ‘image,’ of the phrase ‘and likeness’ (the Hebrew demuth, the Greek homoioos, and the Latin similitude) is to be understood, not as adding new information, but as preventing a possible confusion: ‘image’ is to be understood not as ‘picture’ but as ‘likeness,’ a matter of spiritual similarity.”[19] Seen from this perspective, transfigurative portraits could be said to engage a similar kind of spiritual resemblance. However, in contrast with our humanist and Christian tradition in which, as Mitchell assumes, the image is formed by an abstract or universal likeness, Markovic introduces a likeness that is not general, but instead gendered: the works for which he uses the lipstick are “naturally” portraits of women, whereas those with texts are portraits of men. In both female and male portraits, spiritual likeness is linked with flatness.

The Surface

In elaborating on “abstract machines producing faciality,” Deleuze and Guattari concluded that “the face is a surface,” and indeed all other comparisons they employ when discussing the face revolve around the notion of the surface (“the face is a map” or “the screen with holes”).[20] Even though their theory may be influenced by film images, they do not write here about representations of the face in visual arts. When we turn to the field of painting, it is easy to speak of face-as-surface. The question is what the face gains when it is represented on flat support, be it wall, canvas, paper, or film screen. Further questions follow. First, why should the two-dimensional image be presumed to promise, and even guarantee, the “presence” of the spiritual? Second, why are modern-age faces represented on

[19] W.J.T. Mitchell, Iconology - Image, Text, Ideology, Chicago and London: The Chicago University Press, 1986, 31.
[20] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987, 170. [Originally published as Mille plateaux, Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1980.]

surfaces mostly believed to tell the “truth” of the face? And third, why does Markovic in his faceless Lipstick and Text Portraits employ surfaces (velvet and canvas, respectively) in order to suggest - like many artists in the tradition of abstract painting - that what counts in the portrait is “spiritual likeness” and not iconic repetition of the face?

Even though it seems that in Markovic’s practice, the concern with flatness comes from two different sources - one the Byzantine icon, and the other the modernist painting canon - the opposite is true. These two sources (one “Eastern,” the other “Western”) are both informed by the same philosophical tradition, namely, Neoplatonism, which refutes any representation of the third dimension and geometric perspective.[21] With the advent of photography, art could cease to be a mere window onto the visible world, a world made of transient and deceiving appearances; artists started to look for “truth” elsewhere. In embracing the essentialist tradition, many early modernists started to search for the “immutable essence” or “truth” and went back to the Neoplatonic heritage.[22] This is exactly the philosophical thought behind the Byzantine icon, slightly adapted, however, to fit the Christian doctrine of salvation. Byzantine art is often believed to be the first truly metaphysical art because it broke with a selective imitation of nature and turned towards depicting the inwardness of the mind. This was not a planar dimension anymore, as in Egyptian art, but rather the planate dimension.[23] Such a concept of pictorial space offers a flattened image, and on the basis of this, Clement Greenberg construes the parallels between Byzantine and modernist art.

[21] Traces of this philosophical approach persist, for example, in contemporary film theory, particularly in those studies that deal with the close-up  “The close-up is a specific feature of the photographic-mechanical representation of reality, and therefore a phenomenon which is attached to the twentieth century. Strategically, the close-up is the ultimate consequence of the modernist ambition of seeing through surface, the ultimate expression of the idea of depth per se. The depth of close-up is not a spatial depth, but the depth of the object, the depth of the mind.” L. Crone and L. Movin, “How close can you get?” in Close-Ups, op. cit, 16.
[22] Cf. Mark A. Cheetham, The Rhetoric of Purity - Essentialist Theory and the Advent of Abstract Painting,  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
[23] E. Alliez and M. Feher, “Reflection of a Soul,” op. cit., 76.

He points to the pictorial, non-tactile effects of the painted surface and the “extra-artistic” impact such a surface produces on the viewer. He writes: “The new kind of modernist picture, like the Byzantine gold and glass mosaic, comes forward to fill the space between itself and spectator with its radiance.” The process of gradual flattening of the pictorial space from Gauguin to Cubism to Newman, Rothko and Pollock, Greenberg thinks, could find its parallels in the Byzantine pictorial tradition since the “Byzantines dematerialized firsthand reality by invoking a transcendent one.”[24] Even before Greenberg wrote this, American artists affirmed: “We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth.”[25] In contrast, American modernists belonging to the later generation were far less (if at all) interested in associating flatness with truth. Andy Warhol belonged to this new generation, and he, perhaps more than any artist of his time, understood not only the implication of surface in art (as in his silkscreen paintings), but in contemporary culture in general.[26]

Several critics who wrote about Markovic's Lipstick Portraits read them as “monochromes,” thus establishing a lineage with the modernist experience of monotint painting. None of the critics who discussed his Text Portraits mentioned that these works on canvas are also monochromes, as the artist, in applying texts to canvas, employed a single skin-like color (pigment) in each case whose tone differs from portrait to portrait. In both female and male, we are confronted with the procedure of “one surface - one color” (C. Ratcliffe), which is obvious in the lipstick portraits, where the paint is applied over the entire surface, and less transparent in the homeless portraits, where we pay less attention to color and method of execution, since we are more focused on reading the texts.

[24] Clement Greenberg, “Byzantine Parallels” [1958], in C. Greenberg, Art and Culture, Boston: Beacon Press, 1961, 167-170
[25] This statement of 1943 is signed by Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman. Cited in Donna De Salvo, “Afterimage,” in Andy Warhol - Retrospective, Los Angeles: The Museum of Contemporary Art, 2002, 47.
[26] Cf. D. De Salvo, op. cit., 47.

If we accept that the modern/ist monochrome is a historical antecedent of Markovic’s portraits, then we can recall here Alexander Rodchenko, Yves Klein or Pierro Manzoni, whose practices are considered to be the peak of modernist experience. Ann Eden Gibson analyzes monochrome painting as the epitome of Modernism: “As a modernist icon, monochrome painting appeared to be, as well as to stand for, ‘testing’ of painting’s limits that isolated the essential and discarded the inessential. Read this way, their Spartan self-sufficiency posited monochrome as somehow objectively, universally recognizable as painting’s essence - as paradigmatic painting.”[27] “Silence” and “blankness” attributed to the monochrome surface is habitually based on the presumption that the application of just one color frees paintings from the representational. Art historians have demonstrated many times that the European modernists and their American colleagues (Robert Ryman and Ad Reinhardt, for example) used different ways to arrive at the point of the “blank canvas.” However, discussing “emptiness” and the “zero degree” of painting, Charles Harrison contends: “To talk of blank painting is not simply to conceive of an empty canvas. On the contrary, the typical “blank” painting is a canvas made apparently blank - or apparently almost blank - through the application of paint.” He also dismantles the trust in monochrome as “mute” panting: “The surface of an almost blank painting may be - has been - black or white or gray. Its texture may vary - has varied - from the dense and detailed to the smooth and even. It is not possible that this surface should exclude all possibility of figuration or association.”[28] Gibson proffers a similar line of thinking and argues that the monochrome “is hardly an escape from the figuration, since monochrome is eminently open to an array of figural interpretations. It has to do, rather, with monochrome’s juissance, with its play with figurations.”[29] In these

[27] Ann Eden Gibson, “Color and Difference in Abstract Painting: The ultimate case of monochrome” [1992] in Amelia Jones, Ed., The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader, London and New York: Routledge, 2003, 193-194.
[28] Charles Harrison, Conceptual Art and Painting - Further Essays on Art and Language, Cambridge, Mass., and London: The MIT Press, 2001, 143 and 144.
[29] A. E. Gibson, op. cit. 199.

recent approaches, which destabilize modernist reading of monochrome, one important aspect is not revealed and this is the relation of monotint painting to language: even though the modernist practitioners as well as critics who supported them tended to obscure (if not negate) the role of language in “silent canvases,” abstract artists themselves have had to resort to language. The representational element emerges in the form of the titles of their works, which, as often as not, provide the viewers with narrative clues or the subject matter of their paintings. When Markovic presents the name of the portrayed subject in front of a single-colored surface that is purely pictorial, he in fact disrupts the monochrome’s alleged capability of self-reference, as he does not hide, but instead deliberately reveals his referential content: the woman’s name is a textual supplement that is an integral part of her portrait.

Besides this, the other means by which Markovic subverts the tradition of monochrome is the frame: moreover, a frame leafed with gold. Modernist practice in painting is performed as a continual liberation from the frame, given that this parergon (Derrida) as a three-dimensional “addition” to the painting disturbs viewers’ concentration on the flat pictorial space. Mondrian expressed this most succinctly, stating that, “the framing causes sensation of three dimensions” because it “gives the illusion of depth …”[30] In Markovic’s case, the aureate frame surrounding the velvet surface does not have the function of establishing any perspectival delusion; rather, the gilded frame, akin to aureoles that represent light around the head of a divine figure or a saint in medieval art, indicates that the portrayed face is there, although not visible.

[30] Piet Mondrian [1943], cited in Jean-Claude Lebensztejn, “Starting out from the Frame,” in Peter Brunette and David Wills, Eds., Deconstruction and the Visual Arts - Art, Media, Architecture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, 134.

The Mask

Markovic’s female portraits in which he employed lipstick are not simply a happy encounter of “high art” and “low material,” but are also works that question the understanding of make-up as a “deceptive surface”: this is a trope recurring in Western philosophy and theory, spanning from Plato to Hollywood and its figure of the femme fatale. Cosmetics have been perceived as a “fallacious mask” concealing a woman’s “genuine” self, as a cover that must be wiped away to reveal a woman’s “true face.” In contrast to abundant literature dedicated to female modes of beautification, there is hardly any relevant study that exclusively discusses the role of make-up in the production of masculinity, although over the past thirty years, the ‘man’s world’ has undergone radical changes. If some twenty years ago, masking and make-up were a privilege in “arty” circles (as in camp), today it is unimaginable that a male politician or leader would appear before photo and TV camera without “putting on a face,” let alone with a two-day beard. If the beard was a sign of “true masculinity” only a century ago, and later indicated a refusal of the society-in-order (with the hippie movement), today, the beard has become a look by which we recognize the “other”: Muslims, terrorists, and last but not least, homeless men.

Nonetheless, the practices of masking and its conceptualization are still stereotypically associated with womanhood only. Consistent with patriarchal representation, the dialectic model of the mask vs. the face has been supplemented with a further set of oppositions such as truth/untruth, surface/depth, outside/inside, façade/substance, and appearance/essence. Until relatively recently, Western cultural construction of la femme heavily relied on these binaries, in which “femaleness” as a rule belonged to the negative parts of these couplings. If we are to consider womanliness as a “play of surfaces” and as “putting on masks,” then we should also bear in mind that these assessments are in part nourished by the negative implications of the mask in the Western world. Comparatively observing masking conventions and their ambiguities

in different cultures, anthropologist David Napier points out: “In the West, the word ‘mask’ has come to connote something disingenuous, something false, but in many other cultures, such connotations do not pertain, or at least are secondary to the development of personae that the mask incarnate. For Westerners, persona tends to be distinguished from personality rather than accepted as part of it.”[31] Similar considerations feed into a philosophical tradition that could be, as some theorists argue, traced back to Plato, where the “appearance” is set against “truth.” In the Christian tradition, which had always manifested a deep-seated uneasiness about nudity (and ultimately, sexuality), the mask had assumed the status of the “false face” or even the “absent face.” In his book on portraiture, Richard Brilliant also elaborates on the ambiguity of masking in the Western world: “Real masks are hollow, but the masks that civilized people (sic) put on have no physical existence separate from their own flesh, their ‘own’ face, although what lies behind them may be impossible to know. They are both transparent and opaque, because such masks conceal the being within from others, blocking their access to it, while simultaneously making a social commitment to these same others by presenting some visible, comprehensible form of the self that might be recognized.”[32]

In her article “Making up the Truth - On lies, lipstick and Friedrich Nietzsche,” Catherine Constable starts indeed with Plato and explores philosophical and later psychoanalytical and feminist implications of make-up by analyzing various theoretical constructions of the opposition between the “surface” of the mask and the “truth” of the face: “The common-sense view of make-up defines cosmetics as a mask which covers over the true face. This basic model of opposition between the mask and the face can be seen to feed into a dialectical model of appearances versus truth that begins with Plato and later informs the work of contemporary

[31] A. David Napier, Mask, Transformation, and Paradox, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1986, XXII.
[32] Richard Brilliant, Portraiture, London: Reaktion Books, 1991, 113.

feminist theorists such as Luce Irigaray and Laura Mulvey.”[33] In reviewing the existing literature dealing with this subject, she follows the valuable writings by Mary Ann Doane,[34] and tries to deconstruct in a feminist way the notion of the mask and make-up founded upon usual binary models fostering an incompatibility of surface (appearance) and depth (the truth). Constable maps out an “alternative construction” of make-up and “femininity” and turns to Nietzsche, who, in The Gay Science, for example, establishes an anti-hermeneutics informed by a revalorization of the surface, which ultimately brings about a collapse of the oppositions of surface/depth and appearance/reality. Circling around Nietzsche, Jacques Derrida holds that “truth” can only be a “surface.” In Spurs, as Nietzsche earlier, he takes up the idea of “veiling” and associates “the question of woman” with instability, indecisiveness, and dissimulation, which are for him operative concepts helping to destabilize the notion of metaphysics otherwise central to his philosophical writing. This line of thinking offers, as it were, a more complex appreciation of masking, veiling, and make-up, as they bypass the negative pairing figuring in the depth-versus-surface and the truth-versus-deception model.

Some recent ideas on masking, in contrast, avoid this stereotype, and conceive of the mask either as “the face itself, the abstraction or operation of the face,”[35] or draw attention to the function of the “false face” as a kind of shelter: “In this respect, the mask is a token of the desire for self-protection, which is varyingly exemplified by a growing of beards, the elaboration of hairdo or artful reshaping of eyebrows, the wearing of wigs, jewelry, or make-up, the practices of dyeing, plastic surgery … and countless other forms of physical editing.”[36]

[33] Catherine Constable, “Making up the Truth - On lies, lipstick and Friedrich Nietzsche,” in Stella Bruzzi and Pamela Church Gibson, Eds., Fashion Cultures, London: Routledge, 2000, 191. Constable supplies her survey with several examples from Hollywood classics with Marlene Dietrich.
[34] Cf. Mary Ann Doane, Femmes fatales - Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis, New York and London: Routledge, 1991.
[35] G. Deleuze and F. Guattari A Thousand Plateaus, op. cit., 181.
[36] Alexandra Warwick and Dani Cavallaro, Fashioning the Frame - Boundaries, Dress and the Body, Oxford and New York: Berg, 1998, 138.

The Masquerade

Markovic’s Lipstick Portraits and Text Portraits offer clear gender positioning in which femininity is associated with public achievement, fame, and ultimately, power, while masculinity is linked with social failure, anonymity, and powerlessness. This may occasion a number of questions.

Does Markovic propose here an inversion of a patriarchal vision of women’s and men’s social and gender roles? Indeed, all portrayed women are chosen because they are successful in their professions and on account of their social and political engagement. The men, in contrast, figure in Markovic’s work precisely because they are “losers” and social outsiders who enjoy zero visibility in both life and in the media where they are represented, not as individual subjects, but as a faceless “collective body” that points to the “other side” of our society steeped in a myth of abundance. On the other hand, Markovic’s gender constellation may as well trigger a completely opposite question: do his women portraits reactivate - instead of destabilizing - the patriarchal technologies of representation? In Lipstick Portraits, the female celebrities are presented as “image,” as something to be looked at, and, as a feminist critic would remark, they are even painted with a “typically female” utensil, the lipstick. In contrast with the prominent women who seem to be here “sexualized” and framed as image (in both the metaphorical and literal sense), the homeless men in the Text Portraits acquire their public visibility through speech (the interviews), which is then transferred into written language. All in all, Markovic’s gender setting may sustain - yet again - those time-honored concepts of femininity and masculinity according to which women “appear” as speechless subjects, whereas men acquire their subject status via language. The mentioned dilemmas, which every decent feminist would point out, require, I believe, some additional explanation.

Lipstick Portraits include women who all bear their “masks of fame.” Here are women whose profession is linked with “glamour”: film, pop, opera, and fashion stars like Catherine Deneuve, Madonna, Jessye Norman, and Vivienne Westwood,

respectively. Next to them is Gal Costa, who became one of Brazil's foremost female Tropicalismo movement singers and guitar players during the late sixties and seventies. The series includes portraits of politicians such as Hillary Clinton (The First Lady of the U.S.A. at the time and today an American senator) and two women politicians from Asia, Pakistani Benazir Bhutto and Burma’s human rights activist Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (who received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991); beside them is a Hindu, Phoolan Devi, an Indian politician, outlaw and rebel known as the “Bandit Queen” or female “Robin Hood” (who was assassinated in 2001). Markovic’s gallery also includes two royal women, Sonia, the Queen of Norway, and Princess Masako of Japan, and finally, one philosopher based in France, Julia Kristeva.

This global panorama of female celebrities could certainly be compared with Andy Warhol’s silkscreen paintings of women considered to be American icons, such as Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor or Jackie Kennedy, whose faces he multiplied, repeated and varied in different colors. Warhol’s portraits are not based on a direct face-to-face encounter between the artist and the sitter, given that, as some critics rightly remarked, Warhol did not deal with “truth” about Monroe as a person but rather with “her public image, an image which per definition is infinitely reproducible. Warhol is depicting not so much a person as a product.”[37] When approaching Warhol’s portraits, those of Monroe in particular, some Marxist critics acknowledged a “seeming acceptance of the reduction of a woman’s identity to a mass-commodity fetish.”[38] Moreover, feminist deconstruction of patriarchal regimes of representation was rather influent, and the work also turned to consumerist society, which, as Laura Mulvey once argued, necessitates that “a woman must buy the means to paint on (make-up) and sculpt (underwear/clothes) a look of femininity, a look which is the guarantee of visibility in sexist society

[37] David Batchelor, “Modernity & Tradition: Warhol & Andre,” in Liz Dawtrey et al., Eds., Investigating Modern Art, Yale University Press in association with the Open University, 1996, 132.
[38] Thomas Crow, “Saturday Disasters: Trace and Reference in Early Warhol,” in Serge Guibaut, Ed., Reconstructing Modernism, Cambridge, Mass., and London: The MIT Press, 1990, 315.

for each individual woman.”[39] It is easy to use similar arguments apropos Markovic’s portraits of femmes célèbres, as visual seduction is here performed through fetishizing the commodity form, suggested by the very materials he employed for painting them: the lipstick, whose phallus-like form has obvious sexual connotations (exploited ad nauseam in advertising, where it is usually shown as entering a woman’s lips). This is a piece of make-up that conventionally stands for female eroticism and seduction, but which at the same time signals the vanitas of appearance and the transience of existence. Moreover, Markovic frames the portraits with gold, a color whose secular meaning is associated, on the one hand, with the triviality of kitsch and on the other, with a “dream world” of glamour.

All this leads to a conclusion that Markovic’s velvety female portraits appear to conform to the regimes of representation that manufacture “woman” as “image” and ultimately commodity icon fit for global consumption. Thus, it seems that Lipstick Portraits indeed reduce women who successfully practice their professions in the different parts of the globe to “typically feminine” rituals of beautification and wearing of make-up. Feminist theorists of the 1970s shared an animosity towards make-up practices, and, similarly to male authors, placed woman’s “true face” against the “falseness” of make-up. In addressing the same dichotomies, feminists such as Luce Irigaray in her philosophical discourse and Laura Mulvey in her theories of female spectatorship took a rather negative stance as regards masking and make-up; they critically recognized make-up as a “patriarchal strategy” that constructs femininity as pure appearance, as it stresses woman’s role as visual object, serving to support the male subject. More recently, however, feminist authors who deal with codes of beautification have introduced a less rigid understanding of make-up and female beauty, suggesting that this daily practice may trigger two rather different positions: “Women debate whether an elusive ideal of beauty is a menacing, male-fabricated myth that victimizes women or an avenue of self-realization by which women become empowered agents.”[40]

[39] Laura Mulvey (co-written with Colin MacCabe), “J.-L. Godard: Images of Women and Sexuality” [1980], in L. Mulvey, Visual and Other Pleasures, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989, 54.
[40] Peg Zeglin Brand, “How Beauty Matters,” in P. Z. Brand, Ed., Beauty Matters, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2000, 3.

Indeed, the meaning of cosmetics, and coloring of the lips in particular, is no longer defined as a habitual opposition between surface and substance: “The lipstick both conforms to the use of the female form as a clichéd repository of patriarchal values and subverts it.”[41]

Taking up the issue of subversion, the question to be asked is not whether Markovic’s Lipstick Portraits reproduce an essentialist comprehension of femininity; the question is rather what notion of femininity these portraits endorse. The notion of femininity that these artworks put forward is, I trust, the concept of “femaleness as a masquerade,” elaborated in 1929 by English lay analyst Joan Riviere, whose work is frequently revisited in recent feminist, film and psychoanalytic theory.[42] In her most influential piece of analytic writing, Riviere tends to go beyond Western dualistic thinking, part of which is a discourse of two types of femininity, the intellectual and the gentle feminine. Instead, she asserts that all femininity is masquerade and performance: “Womanliness therefore could be assumed and worn as a mask, both to hide the possession of masculinity and to avert the reprisal expected if she was found to possess it […]. The reader may now ask how I define womanliness or where I draw the line between genuine womanliness and the “masquerade.” My suggestion is not, however, that there is any such difference; whether radical or superficial, they are the same thing.”[43] Conceptualized in this manner, the mask ceases to indicate the “absence” of truth: it is a construct and resistance to patriarchal norm, which due to its performative disposition, could be mobilized in a variety of possible ways. We may thus assume that women represented in the Lipstick Portraits wear “the mask of femininity” in

[41] Pam Meecham and Julie Sheldom, Modern Art - A Critical Introduction, New York and London: Routledge, 2000,52.
[42] See, for example, M. A. Doane, “Film and the Masquerade,” [1982] in M. A. Doane, Femmes fatales, New York and London: Routledge, 1991; also, Stephen Heath, “Joan Riviere and the Masquerade,” in Victor Burgin, and Cora Caplan, Formations of Fantasy, London: Methuen, 1986; and Sarah Wilson, “Femininities- Masquerades” [1995] in Jennifer Blessing, Ed., Rrose is a Rrose is a Rrose - Gender Performance in Photography, New York: Guggenheim Museum, 1997, 134-155.
[43] Joan Riviere, “Womanliness as a Masquerade” cited in M. A. Doane, Femmes fatales, New York and London: Routledge, 1991, 25. Originally published in: The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 10, 1929.

the way described above, but Markovic’s practice indicates yet another understanding of the mask: given that these famous women are publicly exposed personalities who have to show their “faces” on a daily basis, the mask could be understood as a desire for protection of privacy. As Bakhtin believed, the mask is an “involvement shield, whereby individuals protect their privacy at the same time as they commune with others,” and in doing so they “manage to isolate themselves, yet simultaneously project intended identities on the external world.”[44]

The Façade

Text Portraits are paintings belonging to Markovic’s Homeless project, which started in the public space, namely with the interviews the artist carried out with homeless men in Tokyo, Belgrade, and Berlin. Even though the video interviews and handmade text paintings are shown in art spaces, the main goal of the project is to “turn back” the homeless problem to the street by visualizing the linkage between destitution and town development: in each of the cities where the project was realized, a text portrait of one homeless man is printed on a banner and installed on a façade.

Homelessness is a critical social issue that visual artists started to address in the early 1980s, particularly in the U.S. of the Reagan era, where the process of gentrification was immediately accompanied by anti-loitering law, which brought urbanist Peter Marcuse to conclude: “Homelessness exists not only because the system is not working but because this is the way system works.”[45] When responding to homelessness, artists usually mount a similar critique, stressing the fact that each society tends to neutralize this problem by producing the invisibility of this social group.[46] On the other hand, when occasionally homeless people

[44] A. Warwick and D. Cavallaro, Fashioning the Frame, op.cit., 130.
[45] Peter Marcuse, “Abandonment, Gentrification, and Displacement: the Linkage in New York City” [1986] quoted in Martha Rosler, “Fragments of a Metropolitan Viewpoint,” in Brian Wallis, Ed., If You Lived Here - The City in Art, Theory, and Social Activism, A Project By Martha Rosler, Seattle: Bay Press, 1991, 36.
[46] This tendency was very obvious in Berlin, for example, where Markovic, searching for a façade of an office building, contacted some 40 owners and/or institutions and each time received a negative answer.

become visible in the news media, they appear exactly as a stereotypical “group” in which the members of the “group” feature as de-individualized and depersonalized. In order to correct these state/media strategies, the majority of artworks focusing on unhoused persons tend to render the homeless problem visible and, in doing so, shed light on individual members of the “group.” Martha Rosler sums up such a procedure: “it ‘humanizes’ by particularizing.”[47] American artists and theorists who have coped with this theme developed a contradictory discourse debating whether photographic practice is appropriate here at all, since it further neutralizes homeless men and women by presenting them in an “artified” manner, a tendency that Allan Sekula once named “the ‘find-a-bum' school of concerned photography.”[48]

Markovic’s Homeless project also reveals these contradictions, as he also resorts to the documentary method and interview format: in the portraits of homeless men, he “humanizes” and individualizes a member of the “group.” However, in contrast to photographic image, which, once exhibited in art context or in media, “attempts to restore a surface calm that belies underlying contradictions,”[49] Markovic’s pictorial representations are not “calm surfaces,” as they do not conceal but make instead make the conflicting social matrix transparent. This transparency is obtained by the use of language, which is here the constitutive element establishing the visibility of a homeless individual. In the video interviews (each lasting one hour), language is present in the form of speech: a homeless man, shown only in close-up, narrates about his life. In the painted portraits, Markovic transfers speech from the interview into a text, which is now applied to canvas with pigment (250 x 86 cm). Each text portrait presenting a confession pronounced in the first person is, for Markovic, “the best close-up you can get.”[50] By reading these textual close-ups, we learn that problems enmeshed in the homeless condition are not universal, since they differ from place to place (say, from Belgrade to Berlin to Tokyo). We also understand that this condition is not a collective “fate” shared by

[47] M. Rosler, op. cit., 33.
[48] Allan Sekula cited in Rosalyn Deutsche, Evictions - Art and Spatial Politics, Cambridge, Mass., and London: The MIT Press, 1998,170.
[49] R. Deutsche, op.cit., 51.
[50] Unpublished interview with the artist, Berlin, February 2006.

the homeless as a social “group,” given that reasons for becoming homeless also vary from person to person.

The banners with the text portrait of Dragan Stankic installed on an office building on Terazije Square in Belgrade (2003), and that of Peter Scheller mounted on a façade at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin (2006) are subversive visual signs that disrupt two basic ideologies displayed on the cities' façades: political advertising and commercial marketing. During the Cold War, the façade was indeed a site in which the differences between the Western and Eastern ways of life were perhaps the most evident. In the West, as John Berger remarked thirty years ago, commercial culture has had the following impact: “Publicity turns consumption into a substitute for democracy.”[51] In the East, the portraits of Lenin and Mao (standing for the East, “ideology” and the breaking of human rights) were incompatible with the Marlboro Man or Marilyn Monroe (personifying the West, “freedom” and democracy). Within Western mass culture, the “public face” of a movie or pop star was (and still is) productive in that it “construct[s] ideological subject positions (i.e., imaginary relationship between the image/character and the viewer/reader).”[52] In the democratic setting, the faces of politicians used in electoral campaigns have been, in Roland Barthes’s understanding, the best “anti-intellectualist weapon,” since the photographic portraits confirm paternalistic quality (and virility) in an election, sending a message to voters: “Look at me: I am like you.”[53] Under state socialism, the portraits of the leader also confirmed the paternalistic and virile features of Communist power, but in contrast to the West, the “public faces” were meant to stay forever, since the petrifying of these faces in monuments was as common as the production of the face on a flat surface (banners on façades or photographic albums). The iconophilic “nature” of Communist power is thus sometimes recognized as having Byzantine roots: “Political representation has a double signification, in first projecting the physical persona of the revered leader, and secondly in constructing an ideological

[51] John Berger, Ways of Seeing, London: British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin Books, 1972, 149.
[52] Leerom Medovoi, Mapping the Rebel Image: Postmodernism and the Masculinist Politics of Rock in the U.S.A., Cultural Critique, Nr. 20, 1991-92, 156.
[53] Roland Barthes, “Photography and Electoral Appeal” [1970], in R. Barthes, Mythologies, London: Vintage, 1972, 91 (italics in original).

community of shared interests. This entails finding a form that mediates between the corporeal person and transcendental icon.”[54] The face of the leader had been exposed to (or rather imposed on) “his” masses, as in street celebrations, for example. In addition, the “red icons” underwent mass consumption as well, as numberless photographs of Socialist homes containing leaders’ portraits testify. Communist “public faces” such as those of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Tito, or Ulbricht were not simply “expression of power” or a manifestation of inherent iconophilia, but rather representations (iconic, symbolic, or otherwise) that we read today as signs performing spatialization, i.e., the realization of Communist power.

In our post-Communist age, the cityscape of almost every world’s metropolis has become a cacophonous network of publicizing faces. Markovic mimics the rules of the game, which is no longer restricted to the West (as Berger described it in the 1970s), but is played globally: “The visibility of public figures for the subject of mass culture occurs in a context in which publicity is generally mediated by the discourse of consumption.”[55] Indeed, in today’s democratic public spaces, there is basically no big visual (i.e., formal) difference between the photograph of a political candidate whose electoral posters promise us a “better life” (in the near future) and advertising for plastic surgery that “guarantees” us our new, “better selves” (again, in the future). Regardless of the futurological message it transmits, each public face we see in political and commercial advertising tends to address us “directly” and “personally.” Markovic’s Text Portraits address us from the façade in the same way, but these ‘talking faces’ speak of here and now; they tell about things that are “behind the façade,” thus establishing a merging of the public and the private, indicating the link between the homeless and social changes - be it redevelopment (as in Tokyo and in Berlin) or economic transition and post-war circumstances (as in Belgrade).

[54] Albert Boime, “Perestroika and the Destabilization of the Soviet Monuments,” in ars, Nos. 2-3, Bratislava 1993, 218. (special issue on “Totalitarianism and Tradition”)
[55] Michael Werner, “The Mass Public and the Mass Subject,” [1991], in M. Warner, Publics and Counterpublics, New York: Zone Books, 2005, 169.

Like any other ‘public face’ that flashes in the public iconosphere and soon disappears, portraits of homeless men occupy the city’s façades for a restricted period of time. Even so, they do contribute - temporarily, alas - to the “production of the city,” as they point at a fusing of social and spatial relations involved in this production. Following Henri Lefebvre and materialist urban theorists, Rosalyn Deutsche does not view the urban setting as a neutral “context” or “backdrop” for art practices, but instead analyzes spatial forms as social structures that “produce” the city: “[T]he built environment - and visual and textual images of the city - can only be rescued from idealist doctrines and analyzed as social in the first instance if, released from the grip of determinism, they are recognized, as other cultural objects have been, as representations. Neither autonomous in the aesthetic sense - embodiment of eternal aesthetic properties - nor social because produced by an external society, representations are not discrete objects at all but social relations, themselves productive of meaning and subjectivity.”[56]

[56] R. Deutsche, op.cit., 224. (italics B. P.)

First published in Markovic: Transfigurative Works, Nurnberg, Verlag fuer Moderne Kunst, 2006.

Bojana Pejic lives and works in Berlin. She studied art history and worked at the Student Cultural Center in Belgrade from 1971 until 1991, where she organized many programs and curated shows. She has been practicing art critique since the mid-1970’s, and was one of the editors of the art-theoretical journal Moment, edited in Belgrade (1984-1991). She moved to Berlin in January 1991, and is now working as a freelance art critic/curator. She was chief curator of the exhibition After the Wall – Art and Culture in post-Communist Europe, organized by Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1999, which traveled to Budapest and Berlin (2000). She held the Rudolf Arnheim Guest-Professor- ship at Humboldt University (Berlin), Art History Department, during the Summer Semester 2003.