DANIEL DJAMO 2017
Written by: Simon Žlahtič
The recurrent stay of the artist has resulted in an interesting documentary called Cutting Rogoza. Daniel Djamo has learned of the current political and environmental problematics, which is connected to the cutting of the Rogoza forest and the arrival of big capital in a local environment.
In the vicinity of the former industrial city Maribor, in the neighbouring municipality Hoče-Slivnica, the new industrial zone of the region is being constructed. New industrial halls are growing on former agricultural areas. The latest project in the making is the construction of a factory from the multinational company Magna-Steyr. The original estimates, the realization of which followed soon, were of 100 ha of first-class soil being destroyed in the process.
As a balancing project, the authorities offered replacement agricultural areas on the grounds of the Rogoza forest. For this purpose, the municipality legally enabled the destruction of 66ha of the forest to provide replacement agricultural areas, with which they prepared for clearing the whole forest, the act of which is prohibited by Slovenian law.
The residents of Rogoza, a settlement trapped between a growing industrial zone and a forest, have connected within the community and stood against the intentions of the municipality and the government. With the clearing of the forest, they would lose their last shelter from the urbanization of the countryside as well as an important natural habitat with an important function of lessening the already present negative effects of the industrialization.
In the documentary, the author researches the problematics of the events around the Rogoza forest through his esthetics, as the events resonated with the local community and the whole country. Through the medium of documentaries, the author portrays the bipolarity, the entrapment of people between urbanization and nature, between the people and the government. The documentary, which was strongly influenced by the current thematic, was the first documentary about the events in this area. It captures the beginning of the battles of the residents of Rogoza, while also presenting the viewpoint of the local authorities.
Sixteen ways to the perfect sunWritten by: Simon Žlahtič
»My friend, the truth is always implausible, did you know that? To make the truth more plausible, it's absolutely necessary to mix a bit of falsehood with it. People have always done so.«
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Demons
The concept of the exhibition Sixteen ways to the perfect sun from the Romanian artist Daniel Djamo leads us in the fictional future, the year 2028. The reality it creates is dark, as the future brings the downfall of the European Union and the creation and formation of authoritative and xenophobic countries. These countries build walls and fences on their borders, which interfere with the flow of people, who have found themselves in dire situations. The artist's narration seems impossible at first, the Orwell like future just seems fictional.
The author claims that he does not wish to be descriptive and politically engaged, as he wants the audience to perceive his exhibition from the esthetic point of view. With this position, he is somehow getting closer to subtle manipulation, as the exhibition contains multiple symbolic meanings and we can, therefore, interpret it in multiple layers. With it, the author is referencing different fields, from history, politics and mythology to personal experiences and imagination, which is not revealed to us at first. In the text accompanying the exhibition, he mentions future Romania as a country, which will have sold all its oil reserves to Austria and the golden reserves to Finland, which has already happened during the Second World War, when the Third Reich gained their oil fields. With this, he incorporates the reoccurring of history, the current political status, such as the building of walls and physical obstructions on borders, all of which he projects into the year 2028 when Romanian immigrants are at the last stage on their way to Munich. With this, he gives the fictional future some credibility, which brings it closer to becoming a possible reality.
We begin to experience the exhibition, which spanned over the entire gallery, with the conceptual text, which is continued upon an amassment of strained threads, which begin at different points and ending in the same point on the other side of the room. They represent the different paths of 16 Romanian immigrants, who traverse the way from plentiful Romania to Maribor, where they are currently at in the future. The artist offers the spectator a pencil with which the spectator can name the migrants and with this gesture, give them an identity, with these actions strengthening the credibility of the author’s version of history, as we, with our actions, are reviving the non-existent. With the incorporation of false facts, we get closer to the term “post-truth”, which marks the current politic status and the society, which avoids feeling and personal convictions when deciding the common opinion.
The thread alone symbolizes the red thread of the installation. They go from the starting point to the final point, Maribor, uninterrupted and continue to constantly return to the starting point, Romania, from where it spreads through different pieces of wood from forests, which represent an element of home regarding their home country and are also seen, by the author and Romanian folklore, as their twin brother. Past them, the thread runs all the way to the reel of thread on the pedestal, which is additionally illuminated and represents the uncertainty of the future, as the path is not yet over symbolically. It is waiting for the final push through the border towards Munich.
During the setup of the installation, the artists took care of the uninterrupted line of threads, which made the whole setup more difficult, but has with this achieved the symbolic meaning of the thread of life, which we know from Greek mythology, where the Moirai sisters weave, measure and cut the threads of life, curbing the fates of individuals with their actions. An interrupted line symbolically means death, as the migrants, although fictional, deal with similar problems as the real ones do. A stop before an obstruction on the path means stagnation and distance from the goal of every path, the promised land of the perfect sun. The stop in Maribor calls up images of the recent wave of migrant escapees, who were stopped at the obstructed Austrian border, as well.
At this point, the author again incorporates the real history into the fictional future, which again allows him to add a little possibility to his incredible prediction. He subtly intertwines the contrary facts of fiction and reality, with which it is easier for him to convey his views, as he states that facts and descriptivism do not do well for him, so he prefers to express himself through fiction and jokes. With this standing, he is getting closer to the commonly quoted statement of Oscar Wilde: “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you”.