Milica Tomic: One day, instead of one night, a burst of machine-gun fire will flash, if light cannot come otherwise
30 Mar – 20 May 2012
The year 2012 in the Darkroom of the Turku Art Museum is dedicated to video and media art by artists from the Balkan region. The next piece presented in the series is by Milica Tomic (b. 1960), One day, instead of one night, a burst of machine-gun fire will flash, if light cannot come otherwise (2009, 10 min). The title of the video is a quotation from a poem by Oskar Davičo (1909–1989), a Yugoslav surrealistic writer and member of the People’s Liberation Struggle during the Second World War. In the video, the artist is shown walking in the streets of Belgrade with a machine gun in her hand. The sites of action selected by Tomic are those where ordinary citizens and the People's Liberation Army made successful strikes during the Second World War. She walks in the streets among cars and people, carrying the gun as if it were a shopping bag or an umbrella. Purposefully she strides past the same places again and again, arriving nowhere.

Milica Tomic has edited the piece using an idea, developed in the 1920s by the Russian avantgarde filmmaker Lev Kuleshov (1899–1970), known as artificial landscape. Using this editing method, different locations, places and times all appear to occur in one and the same place over a continuous period of time; Kuleshov referred to such places as “places that remember”. In Tomic’s work, the sites of the strikes occur again and again, only the camera angles and directions of movement change as the artist walks past. Using this particular memorization strategy, Milica Tomic poses the question: if we exclude antifascism as a historical tradition – can we have a democracy?

The significance of the places is underlined by the personal stories, heard in the background, of people who had fought in the People’s Liberation Army. Tomic conducted interviews with five people in 2003. The interviewees speak about how faith in humanity and freedom gave them strength for the struggle, and how they created political conditions to wage “war against war, for peace”. They wanted to secure equal rights for all ethnic groups. According to the interviewees, their choices when they were young still seem the only right choices to have made.

The present day is prominent in Tomic’s video. According to the artist, the war against terror has changed the very concept of war. This permanent war has raised the question of who is the terrorist and who is being terrorized. The making of One Day... involved the artist walking the streets of her home town for two months, carrying a machine gun in her hand, posing the question: what political conditions are needed to break the infinity of the “permanent war”, the war on terror?

In the video, Tomic keeps passing the same sites whose history is remembered. It is almost as if she were a prisoner of these places, doomed to walk the same routes forever, but also a prisoner of frameworks laid down a long time ago. War is waged against war, for peace. However, the artist’s determination indicates that she is searching for something which would be universal and independent of existing divisions and movements. Perhaps one day...

MEETING WITH THE ARTIST: On Thursday 29 March 2012 Milica Tomic will give a talk in English about her artistic practice in the Kuvateatteri of the Turku Arts Academy (Linnankatu 54–60) starting at 2 pm. Admission is free and the meeting is open to the public.

Turun taidemuseo, Aurakatu 26, 20100 Turku, Puh. 02 2627 100. © 2014