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Sa sebe spirati / To wash away (2021)

Author of the text: Ana Simona Zelenović

Anxiety is a feeling of intense uneasiness provoked by fear or a threat. It makes every problem greater, every deadline shorter, every complication heavier. Somatically, it is felt in different parts of the body, while creating a chain reaction from one organ to another. The photographs from the exhibition To Wash Away by Marijana Janković tell us about this feeling, about the connection of psyche to the body, and habits, as well as symptoms.

The oversized parts of the body tension leaks into and from where it completely or partially enslaves us are depicted without personal traits. By abstracting the details and putting in focus that which is common and shared by a large number of people today, the photographer brings attention to the omnipresence of this feeling and its very nature, rather than the personal aspect in which it appears. The shading of gray brings about a kind of dissociation of the body parts shown – like an unwanted symptom that reminds us of our lack of control, followed by the longing for distance. With the size of the photographs, and moreover, the dimensions of the body parts that far exceed their natural size, the artist is presenting us with the overflowing character of anxiety, a subjective feeling that anxiety dominates over all other emotions and thoughts in the moment when it clouds so ghastly over us.

As to identity, in the presented photographs the artist has dealt with it through the work the exhibition takes its name after. The self-portrait of the artist is devoid of details, reduced to identity confronted with the self. Avoiding confessional and overly personal character of narration and self presentation, the self-portrait stands for a testimony to meeting with the self through an artistic act. This kind of treatment is also present in the earlier works of the photographer, when she creates, or rather ’’stages’’, her self-portraits, as a part of a performance in carefully chosen space and time frames.

The photographs at this exhibition call the audience to confrontation, with their conspicuousness, minimalism and communicability they become a sort of a mirror to ourselves. At the end, to come to a process of washing away of oneself, one needs to go through a process of confronting the self – and when the artist had already done that for us, we are able to use her photographs as a kind of a shortcut to pass through these processes ourselves. Art and water bring similar healing properties of ’’washing away’’, that on us have a cathartic effect.


Translation: Boško Đorđević

Salon of the National Museum in Kragujevac

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