A Politics of the Living

Ena Grozdanic Title Image 2Ena Grozdanić. Post Office Projects. 2 Apr 2024


Ena Grozdanić’s exhibition A politics of the living at Post Office Projects comprises a series of small images mounted on the wall of the front gallery, adjacent to a video with a voiceover. In the video, an essay entitled A politics of the living: a fugue, is quietly read, ruminating on recent and current wars, their devastating impact and the apparent human predisposition to violence.


One set of the wall-mounted images comprises collages of scans of various objects, collectively entitled Death to fascism freedom to the people. The scanned objects all have symbolic significance — flowers and flower petals, stones, a piece of text, shells, a still from the video and the photo of a clockface — elements of daily life.


Ena Grozdanic 1

Ena Grozdanić A politics of the living, 2024, scanned objects, digital collage. Image courtesy of the artist.


Also adjacent to the video is another pair of images, entitled Monument and Monument at night respectively, made by the artist’s father, Enes Grozdanić. These are etchings of a large structure and suggest day and night scenes of that structure, the latter under moonlight. The structure in the images resembles the Monument to the Revolution, a World War II memorial sculpture in the former Yugoslavia, now Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Ena Grozdanić’s video intersperses images of a verdant garden with images of books she has read showing quotes included in her text. The video includes footage of her Google search for sources of information to be used in her essay, showing how she compiled it, and she speaks of accidental discoveries of materials that prompted her search. One such discovery was a postcard, displayed in the Jewish Museum in Berlin, which had been thrown from a deportation train bound for Auschwitz, and she references the Holocaust and also the witch-hunts of the Middle Ages in her attempt to comprehend violence and subjugation.


Ena Grozdanic 2

Ena Grozdanić, A politics of the living, 2024, still image, single channel video with audio, 19:30 minutes. Image description: A postcard written in German in hurried handwriting, dated 27 June 43, 2 p.m. The subtitled text reads: ‘I noticed a postcard in glass casing’. Image courtesy of the artist.


In her eloquent and compelling essay, which she dedicates to “the martyrs of the war machine”, Grozdanić addresses several characteristics of modern warfare, particularly the use of drones, which are controlled remotely and whose anonymous users are safely isolated from their targets. In the video, we see an image that appears to show two drone pilots at their consoles, as if they are video gamers, and, later, footage of a demonstration against the use of drones. Those authorising the use of such weapons claim that they are carefully targeted to avoid civilian casualties, but there are always civilian casualties, and these may be accidental or intended consequences.


‘The people of Waziristan know that the drone always strikes twice, in five to ten minute intervals. [“In order to kill the relatives who rush out to help”]’


Grozdanić states, ‘The grammar of war has always been one of mystification, which suggests a certain shame, or at least a suppressed guilty conscience.’ She speaks of how warfare is rationalized, or sanitized, for public consumption:


‘With the institution of the military, and its international laws of war, modernity has coded the killing site as a conflict zone, conferring justification and rationale on the maiming of bodies. Thus murder via a machete becomes unacceptable while flesh torn apart by the blades of ‘Hellfire’ missiles becomes foreign policy.’


She addresses the manufacture as well as the use of weapons including napalm, and the ‘othering’ or depersonalization of those being targeted to render them less than human so as to assuage the feelings of guilt felt by those making and using the weapons. Finally, she questions whether war is ‘inscribed into the genetic code of every border, every enclosure, every nation-state? Is it an impulse/the death drive/Thanatos…, an aberration of history?’


The voiceover in the video is soft and restrained, quietly contemplative rather than raging with anger. This era of war, with its daily televised imagery of the slaughter of civilian adults and children, has provoked a stream of condemnation from around the world. Grozdanić’s is one of the most articulate statements, simultaneously heartfelt, analytical and detached. It is significant that, in an art exhibition, she has used spoken word as the primary medium of communication to enunciate her very personal reflection on the nature and impact of warfare.


Ena Grozdanić’s A Politics of the Living is sobering but ultimately illuminating in that it proposes an alternative approach to the analysis of conflict — that, in prosecuting warfare, we should consider the impact of the means employed rather than the ends pursued.


Chris ReidEna Grozdanic Title Image 2


When: 20 Mar to 20 Apr

Where: Post Office Projects

Bookings: postofficeprojects.com.au







Ena Grozdanic, 2024, A Politics of the Living (indicative),

scanned objects, digital collage, cropped version of full image.

Courtesty of the Artist