The White Aphroid Award 2019: Mladen Miljanović

The White Aphroid has been awarded for the fourth and last time as part of the Risk Change (2016—2020) project. Among the art works showcased at the international group exhibition Tense Present, the jury selected out of more than 25 Slovene and international artists and collectives.

The jury, comprised of Sabina Salamon (curator at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rijeka, Croatia), Sanja Kojić Mladenov (curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Serbia), Miha Colner (curator at the International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC) and publicist, Ljubljana, Slovenia), and Barnabás Bencsik (independent curator, Budapest, Hungary), has shortlisted five finalists:

·    Suzana Brborović (SI)
·    Lana Čmajčanin (BA/AT)
·    Mladen Miljanović (BA)
·    Zoran Todorović (RS)
·    Forensic Architecture (UK)

Among the finalists, the jury awarded the White Aphroid Award to:
Mladen Miljanović (BA) for his project The Didactic Wall (in collaboration with curator Irfan Hošić).

Jury statement:

“The Didactic Wall by Mladen Miljanović is a multilayered work of art consisting of a spatial installation and a handbook with advice for refugees who have been refused entry to the EU on how to avoid strict control systems at the border, as well as exclusion and rejection. By means of exploration and analysis of activist practices and their appropriation to contemporary art, it represents an unexpected juxtaposition of monumental marble plates with ephemeral drawings (like in blind maps often used by smugglers). The work can be seen as an epilogue to the social and migration politics of the EU, encouraging private initiatives rather than finding systemic solutions based on solidarity. It deals with the usual traps of the contemporary immigration policy rhetoric and examines the current treatment of migrants. The artist takes a courageous position - something quite rare in the present contemporary climate - and provides a practical user manual to a group of human beings who are rejected by most of the EU member states authorities, and erects marble monument in their institutions which serve as a token to represent their existential drama.”

Mladen Miljanović (b. 1981, Bosnia and Herzegovina) was born in Zenica. He completed secondary school in Doboj. After secondary school he attended the Reserve Officer School where he earned the rank of sergeant. As sergeant he was responsible for the training of 30 privates. After the completion of his military service, he enrolled at the Academy of Arts (Department of Painting, BA-MA) in Banja Luka. He lives and works in Banja Luka where he is a professor of Intermedia art at the Academy of Arts (UNIBL). He participated in many group exhibitions. Selected solo exhibitions and projects include: Utopian Realism, Peacock Center for Contemporary Arts, Aberdeen, Scotland (UK) 2019; Strike, Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Novi Sad (Serbia), 2017; In Low Flight, ACB Gallery, Budapest (Hungary), 2017; The Garden of Delights, 55th La Biennale di Venezia, Bosnian
Pavilion at Palazzo Malipiero, Venice (Italy), 2013; Good Night / State of Body, MC gallery, New York (USA), 2012; Museum Service, MUMOK, Vienna (Austria), 2010; Occupational Therapy, Museum of Contemporary Art RS, Banja Luka, (BiH) 2008. He is the winner of the Henkel Art Award Vienna, 2009; the 2007 Zvono Award and the Award of the Museum of Contemporary Arts RS, 2005.

The Didactic Wall, 2019

installation, handbooks/manuals, engraved drawings on marble, books

“The project Didactic Wall by Mladen Miljanović is a subversive educational installation that focuses on the issue of migrants, refugees, displaced persons and apatrids, and the difficulties they face when moving towards their desired geographic destination. This is an engaged set of illustrations that address directly those who are trying, in an “illegal” way, to cross national borders to get to their “land of dreams”. (…) The project was shown first in Bihać as site specific, as the place of massive blockage caused by the fact that the green border was closed by the border authorities of the neighbouring EU/Croatia. For the migrants and refugees, Bihać has become a place “on the edge” in the literal meaning of the expression. The place of imprisonment between two realities – one that they are headlessly running away from, and the other – they are madly running to. Essentially, Bihać has turned into a dangerous place that reflects a difficult and unpleasant position of the “people on the move”. It has become a symbol of enslaved human freedom, although it is a transit location, where migrants don’t want to stay for a long time. It is this artistic context where the Didactic Wall has its place, and Miljanović confirms his own rule that art can, but also should be, a criticism of disastrous policies, unethical rules and immoral values. The Didactic Wall is an engaged action that clearly and vocally takes position of sensitive and vulnerable population that has, by chance, been stuck not only in Bihać and Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also in numerous other places on this planet. (…) Miljanović's intention is determined by the motive to create a functional and effective instruction for overcoming natural and artificial barriers, such as water bodies, injuries suffered in the wild, fences, infrared rays, radars, etc. This is a utilitarian pictorial mission with an engaged prefix that is carried out in the medium of didactic illustrations.” (Irfan Hošić)


PRESS KIBLA White Aphroid Award 2019

The Didactic Wall, 2019. Installation View at the Tense Present exhibition, KIBLA Portal, Maribor, SI.
Photo by Damjan Švarc.

The Didactic Wall, 2019. Detail. Photo by Mladen Miljanović.

The Didactic Wall, 2019. Handbook. Photo by Mladen Miljanović.

The Didactic Wall, 2019. Handbook. Photo by Mladen Miljanović.

Photo of the portrait by Wolfgang Lerhner, 2019



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