Julija Zaharijević, Pure Relationship, 2021
Tamara Grčić & Julija Zaharijević: Structure
Sep 29 – Dec 16, 2023
Belgrade, Serbia

Tamara Grčić, Julija Zaharijević and I met in Berlin a year ago. Neither of their practices are concerned with the supernatural, quite the contrary – they are both deeply interested in reality – yet, I deemed that encounter mystical, knowing that I would take their joint thinking personally once we agreed to do a show together. Since both of their art is profoundly invested in the way things are, it felt as if they were about to address something important about us, as cultural workers, a gallery, a society; something that we probably didn’t even know yet.

However, the way Julija and Tamara both talk about their process reveals they were mostly focused on the dialogue between the two of them. This is how Structure came together: as a desire to create collaboratively through complementation rather than blending. Julija wanted to work with fabric, building on her interest in how materiality participates in perception. She took note of the roughness of the gallery floor and how a touch between concrete and silk might feel. In response to this, Tamara thought of a structure, a specific one from a German circus group, which their acrobats use as a platform. Her idea was to provide a solid object for Julija’s work by replicating this structure in a new way, changing its size in approximation to the gallery space and its color in relation to Julija’s drafts. There is a direct analogy to the original purpose of this readymade: the circus performers are no longer there to use it, but the structure is still alluding to a potential choreography. The silk falls gently over the beams, illustrating a reciprocity between flow and stability, translating the structure’s original grounding role into this new setting.

[ . . . ]

Thinking metaphorically, I felt like “structure” was both the perfect theme and title, not just for the central piece, but for the show as a whole. I wondered if structure was what we’re missing in moments of frantic working hours, art fairs, internal battles on the meaning of it all. Often drawn to magical thinking, I projected a lot of my current thoughts onto the artifacts, convinced that it was them that projected the thinking onto me. My impression, however, is that this convoluted feeling comes from the artists’ intentions, and the eyes that lurk from the flower-heads in Julija’s Pure Relationship indicate them in a direct and disarmingly humorous way. They made me think not only about how we see things and situations through art, but also how the works, potentially, see us back, see through us, and somehow just know us all too well. It is this bouncing back between yourself and the work, when you see everything reflected in it, that extends the dynamic of artistic collaboration as a concept.

–Natalija Paunić