The Photographic Magic of Dunja Pantić
- Written by Maja Jovanov
BELGRADE - The young, talented and universal artist Dunja Pantić, who regardless of the fact that she currently works in New York eagerly and often visits Belgrade, where she was born, has held in her city an exhibition of photographs named Magic.
The Čekaonica jazz club was this January a gathering place of numerous young people who came to support and acquaint themselves with Dunja’s work and life, about which the House of Good News wants to inform its readers by this interview.
You were very young when you moved from Serbia and continued your life in Zimbabwe. What memories do you carry from that beautiful and very different African country from the one to which you were used?
Memories from Africa, what I miss, is nature. Life is very different there because you are always surrounded by greenery; house, garden, swimming pool... Material things do not have the same value as they have in the other towns where I lived. Everything is relaxed. I attended drawing classes in the gardens of the Peter Brich and Helen Lieros galleries. Both are famous artists there, everything happened outdoors and nature was our main inspiration.
We can say that you love travelling because after Zimbabwe you returned to Europe, to study in Italy and France?
While I lived in Africa, we travelled a lot also in Europe, and because I knew I would become an artist, the Academy in Florence was the first on my list, which one can say is logical. Paris, the second on my list, was an introduction to masters studies I planned to enrol in New York, a year after the Parsons U.S. school in Paris.
You succeeded thanks to enormous effort, persistence and knowledge you gained during your studies to test yourself in photography, film animation, yet you say you find your best inspiration in music. How has music affected your work?
I think that whatever we do music has a strong influence on all of us. I listen to everything, from African music to hip-hop, and I think that it is reflected in the style of my work, which is constantly changing. Sometimes it may have tendencies of primitive, loud, blaring, and sometimes melancholy and naive. It all depends on the mood brought to me by the music to which I listen.
You named this wonderful photo exhibit Magic. What makes the photographs in this exhibition magical and what attracted you to this work?
I have always been involved in photography, mainly as a hobby, and sometimes I turned into work. I would be behind the scenes as friends shot video clips or films and I photographed actors, the stage and the atmosphere. It always interested me to create photographs in which it is unclear what it is I actually photographed. I had an opportunity to work as I hid behind the canvas or the cameraman, and I had time to experiment. That lack of definition or transformation of an object in my opinion Magic, photographs of details of other details. When I was together with an entire film crew, I did not want my photographs to be the same as would be seen in the film or whatever they shot. I wanted to add another dimension to the entire project. And that is how it remains, while I am on the set, or outside it.
Your works have been shown throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the United States. Which was your favourite exhibition, or perhaps the most successful in your opinion, and why?
I think the most successful was a group exhibition held in the Chelsea Gallery in New York, where I exhibited an animation about global warming. There were many visitors and I met many people and established new contacts.
Is there an area in the arts which you have not tried but would like to?
At the Academy I studied Scenic design. But I never felt sufficiently sure of myself or ready to work in that field. When I graduated I worked in graphic design and there wasn’t much work for scenographers. I would like an interesting project to appear in which I would participate.
Do you have a motto and what is it in your life that drives you forward?
I seek to do what I like and never to refuse anything, because I believe that something nice can be made of everything, or will be of some use to someone. I always sought to do my very best for every project, because I believe that I have nothing to lose in that way. I like to study everything and it makes me mad when people are convinced in something and do not want to believe there exists something else beyond. What I like in Belgrade is that people make everything from nothing. They are very creative and do not need much materially to express themselves and achieve very interesting results. I think that is really important.
After the very successful exhibition in Belgrade, what are your plans?
I am currently illustrating my sixth children’s book and I enjoy it. I hope it will lead to the production of a film and animation. All in all I would like my work to continue in this trend in which I have an opportunity to experiment and express myself in different media. For the time being I am not planning to return to Serbia, but you never know. I grew up in foreign lands and I like being surrounded by people from the whole world. That is what I miss here.
Source: House of Good News