Balkan Art Scene
Denis Haračić — Depicting Situation Between Numb Contemplation & Monstrous Dehumanization
Author: Hana Tiro
Denis Haračić is a Bosnian and Herzegovian visual artist based in Sarajevo (B&H). He primarily uses combined techniques of printmaking, drawing, painting and digital installation. Haračić tends to question social structures and identity from both the individual and our group perspective. His seemingly archaic work is based on existential and archetypal principles drawn from an intimate space, moving towards a universal message of bare and exposed humanity. The ideas Haračić is working on manifest themselves in anthropomorphic depictions of psychological situations trapped between numb contemplation and monstrous dehumanization.
His latest international exhibitions are “16/4, embedded truth”, an online exhibition created during COVID-19 lockdown, 2020, “On the Edge”, Stubel Gallery, Sofija, Bulgaria, 2019, and “Museum Of Now”, curated by Denis Leo Hegic, Michelle Houston, Jan Gustav Fiedler and Katia Hermann, Berlin, Germany, 2019. His latest award is "Collegium Artisticum" award in the category of printmaking, from the Association of artists of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as one of the highest ranking annual art prizes in B&H.
BAS: I have to go in an alternative direction with my first question – you seem to be developing Plusminus fashion. Could you tell us more about Plusminus, and how it affects your overall creative life path?
Haračić: Plusminus fashion is a project I have started working on in 2017. When I was still exhibiting and creating art with my friend and colleague Mirza Rahmanović, we teamed up with designer Ena Dujmović in an attempt to continue her previous work, combining classical printmaking techniques with contemporary fashion design. Mirza and I made 2 collections with Ena, after which I carried on working only with her. In general, the story of Plusminus is one of my biggest successes alongside my art and gallery-focused career. Ena and I managed to punch out a few really interesting collaborations, creating collections with general themes, but always heavily relying on our senses of creating art. Even though it seems to be well planned, Plusminus would not be able to reach the expressive power it possesses without the element of improvisation and a free creative flow. I think Ena and I both know that, so we tend not to bite too far into each others field of expertise. We merely consult on the possibilities of fusion, treating the clothing like a canvas ready to be overpainted. That routine has paid off for us so far, winning Plusminus the Big See award in Ljubljana back in 2019 for the collection “Different species”.
We are working on a new collection as we speak. I am having a lot of studio time carving what is basically the biggest linocut involved in the process so far. You asked me on how this affects my overall creative life path, and I can only say that I enjoy the freshness of Plusminus. Unlike my other studio work which demands a lot of thinking and questioning, the beauty of Plusminus is that I can let go and focus only on the dance between technique and different possibilities in terms of aesthetics. It feels good to go back to my printmaking roots every once in a while.
Editorial - Plusminus
MoN IS NOT A WHITE CUBE. MoN IS A BLACK BOX OF THE ART WORLD.
Museum Of Now, curated by Denis Leo Hegic, Michelle Houston, Jan Gustav Fiedler and Katia Hermann, Berlin, Germany, 2019.
“Museum of Now” is home to a cutting edge collection and the first travelling house exploring trends in contemporary art worldwide. As a travelling museum MON is constantly on the move – from place to place, understanding cities and working with communities, following its curiosities, discovering and stumbling upon things and real time recording vibrations, amplitudes and trends in contemporary art.
The Museum of Now, Berlin edition 2019 was showing a wide collection of installations, site specific artworks, new media, photography, prints and paintings featuring 14 artists. Curated by Denis Leo Hegic, Michelle Houston, Jan Fiedler, Katia Hermann. Presented by Berlin Art Society, Estrel Berlin. Produced by YES, and… productions.
The Museum of Now was presenting 21 aquatint prints combined with painting by Denis Haračić in the main exhibition space and additional 27 works in his media room. As the youngest artist in the 2019 edition Haračić`s work generated huge public interest. The author was showing three separate series.
Muesium of Now. Photo by Danilo Pasquali MIUNDSTUDIO.
BAS: Your work is focused on exposing humans in their individuality as much as a part of the collective. How does current global situation (pandemic and mass digitalization) affect human condition?
Haračić: Even though this statement about individuality and group identity has a profound sound to it, I actually like my work to be very subjective, starting out from very intimate thought processes and matter analysis. The pandemic affects us all. I personally have been through a lot of phases, from compulsive cleaner and self-isolator to hypochondriac patient, all the way to points of relief in which the idea of COVID suddenly felt like a distant memory. Now we are back in lockdown and everything seems to be standing still once again.
Well, we can all agree that this crisis lies heavy on our minds, burdening us from a number of different aspects. As an artist I have to say that I am mostly suffering from the inability to lay out my plans for the year. At this point I am basically failing at executing projects I have conceived over a year ago. Of course, I am trying to adapt to the situation, but I am also trying to keep the essence of my work in place. I think this is a problem that artists with a more classically, fine art-oriented mindset such as painters, printmakers or sculptors are facing in on a higher degree. A painting, for instance, does just not translate as well to a photograph in a 3D virtual space as it does to real life. Sure, we all can and need to explore new approaches in the presentation and communication of our ideas, but in my opinion, art is best consumed live. Although we can look for replacements, as the situation is dragging on we are in dire loss of that specifically important touch with reality. And this is not only a problem in the consummation of art, it successfully translates back onto all levels of everyday life in 2021. We are deprived of one of our most important and desirable instincts, the human touch. Digitalization in general is challenging our concept of social interactions. Together with the mental and physical impact of life during COVID-19, we are facing a time of great psychological trauma, which will surely leave its debris scattered throughout different aspects our existence. Hopefully after all of this, we get to focus on rehabilitating from our temporary founded mindsets and habits, and start a search for what it is we have lost from a humanistic aspect during this daring period.
16/4 EMBEDDED TRUTH
“16/4, embedded truth” is an online art exhibition created during self-isolation
The exhibition is set up as an attempt of documenting the period from the 21th of March to the 18th of April. 2020. through a series of evolving, abstract self-portraiture.
Rather than pushing the idea of art used as platform to react to global phenomena, this body of work is dedicated entirely to a personal undertaking, dictated by personal needs and mood swings, unfolding almost randomly. In this case art is treated as an universal language coming primarily from a very intimate space.
Currator Denis Leo Hegić points out:
“Right now, our most important focus has to be to prevent arts and culture from coming to a standstill. Digital viewings are an important tool for this and the presentation of Denis Haračić´s new series does not suffer from the lack of physical contact at all. On the contrary, the digital representation of the works created new perspectives: the graphic artist depicted himself resulting in self-portraits that line up like frames in a moving picture. Haračić presents snapshots of a world in a halted time.”
BAS: Even though last year evolved in an unexpected way, we can plan that 2021 is going to give us similar turnings. Are you having any turns of your own going for 2021?
Haračić: As I mentioned earlier, I am already in distress over everything I have roughly planned out for 2021. I have predicted possible delays and unexpected turns, but the uncertainty of this time makes it almost impossible to work on larger projects with institutions, and that’s exactly what I have been working towards form the end of 2019. Sadly, if we add the default dispositions of cultural life in the Balkan region, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the equation, chances for success are getting slimmer and slimmer.
But not to keep it on the pessimistic site, one thing I can surely say is that I will continue with my work, as I constantly seem to find more and more reasons to pursue ideas and self-implied agendas that formed along the way, especially because of the mentioned circumstances. At least in Bosnia and Herzegovina you can feel empowered while fighting for the liberation of culture and art as a way of universal communication. For this year I hope that I get to carry out a very important project dedicated to the whole cultural field of this region, and that by doing so I can set a foundation for something more meaningful, benefiting not only my work and career. I feel like that despite all conditions, the time is right to do projects which give art and culture an adequate voice in this crazy mess called Balkan.
Follow Denis on his Instagram account, Facebook, and his website.