States of the Arts


Hair 18

by Jovanka Stanojević

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Profile, straight-on, three-quarter view: in portraiture, the subject’s head and shoulders are positioned so as to best frame the face. With her ‘Hair’ series, though, Jovanka Stanojević’s attention is focused elsewhere. The figure is turned away, presenting an intricately knotted bun or a cascading plait. In Hair 18, the model’s silvery thatch appears wiry, the wisps documented on paper. Grey threads rest upon her quilted jacket, to be pinched and discarded later. However untamed a coiffure it may seem, Stanojević’s meticulous detail assures us that not a single hair is out of place.

Words by John Wadsworth

When Father Was Away on Business

directed by Emir Kusturica
Feature film

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Yugoslavia, 1950. Relations with the USSR are strained, enemies of the state are being neutralised, and six-year-old Malik wants a football. When Father Was Away on Business is a tale of tense political and familial uncertainty, told from the innocent perspective of a child. As dissident ideology and infidelity intermingle, misunderstanding causes rifts to open up. The young protagonist’s worldview shapes our partial insight into the events, amplifying the opacity of governmental manipulation. As the deceits and immoralities proliferate, we are left seated with Malik, watching on from the sidelines.

Words by Hugh Maloney

On the Usefulness of Music

by Ana Ristovic

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In response to ‘a time of upheaval’, an opera director fires four bullets into a grand piano, then climbs in and closes the lid. As he lies in an empty auditorium, the rest of the orchestra’s instruments are repurposed, transformed into functional furniture and tools. While some changes seem harmless enough on first reading, others are more evidently sinister. The police force begins to use drumsticks to strike not the skin of a snare or tom-tom, but human flesh. Mention of tape recorders and intrusive loudspeakers add to the unrest. At the poem’s close, the grand piano turns from shelter to cage, unable to escape music’s relationship with political change.

Words by John Wadsworth

Pesme Postora

by Ljubica Marić

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Ljubica Marić, a scholar of Orthodox Church music, was the first composer to take Byzantine chant from the sacred sphere of the liturgy and into the concert hall. For Pesme Postora, Marić took her inspiration from the Octoëchos, a medieval collection of religious songs. The cantata opens with lines of meditative chant, its text lifted from the epitaphs of ancient tombstones belonging to a religious sect. Vibrant orchestral timbres swiftly subsume this serenity, igniting a capricious fire that spans hushed interludes and explosive sequences for the whole ensemble.

Words by Hugh Maloney

More to discover

Hair 18: Visit Jovanka Stanojević’s website here.

When Father Was Away on Business: View an excerpt from the film here.

On the Usefulness of Music: Read the poem, along with other poems by Ana Ristović, here.

Pesme Postora: Listen to the composition here.

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