A curiosity about history, particularly of the ’50’s and ’60’s Cold War era, is reflected in Vesna Pavlovic’s current work and in her workspace. She’s originally from Serbia and witnessed the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 90’s. In her office/studio she inhabits as a professor of art at Vanderbilt University, one is as likely to see other artists’ works as Vesna’s, as she often appropriates works from earlier times and other photographers to create comparisons of life then and life now; for example, a black and white archive of the Museum of Yugoslav history. Her respect for the photographic records of other days led her to save from destruction thousands of slides and many slide projectors that were in the university’s archives. Some had been digitized, but not all, and they were on their way to an uncertain future. She uses both the rescued gear and the works in exhibits, as she projects the images onto a variety of surfaces, including flat and curved pieces of plexiglas. As Dr. Susan Edwards, CEO of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, said about her concerning a recent exhibit at the Frist, “Pavlovic examines historical uses of photography as document, art, and teaching tool while addressing the subjectivity of history, the limits of modernism, and the role of images in the construction of desire.” So, this studio seems more staging area than most, filled with new potential projection or exhibit surfaces, such as a floor to ceiling drape panel, as well as myriad projectors and stands, banks of slides resting against window panes, and print materials.
From the artist: (when I asked why she liked to use the work of other photographers from a different era in new ways and mingled with her own): “One archive becomes another archive but with a sense of the history and memory of the previous period and with the new perspectives that come with the passing of time.”