2003, photographs with text,

10 chapters and 3 appendixes

you can download the pdf presentation from here:

finnish report_english

finnish report_srpski

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SHIFTING OF DOCUMENTARY PERSPECTIVE

The dominant photographic language of tourist booklets has also inspired tourists to find their own way of photographing. These instant shots attempt to authenticate the constructive experience of the very journey that has been also turned into a form of consumer goods: what is photographed belongs to the world of the different and unusual. A dictionary of photographic practice, which fits into the model related to the balance between the powers, also uses a great number of tourist shots. Generally speaking, the balance between economic powers is automatically established in such a way, even when the right to possess and the use of a photographic camera are at issue.[1]


In Goran Micevski’s work Finnish Report, fiction and facts constantly interweave and merge with each other, thus forming a complex apocryphal narrative structure packed with polysemous potentials. The artist integrates documentary photographs taken during his stay inFinland with the text in which he comments his experience as a traveller in order to create a change of perspective and to subvert the usual perception and interpretation patterns that are typical for an average tourist.

Deconstruction of strict binary oppositions between the public and the private, the self and the other, the exotic and the everyday, and the foreign and the local shifts the documentary perspective which embodies the objectivist, modernist attitude with its fixed identity, suitable for a simple classification. Although Micevski’s photographs formally keep the aesthetics and composition quality of instant shots, he focuses on ordinary, not exotic objects that dominate on the “standard” tourist photographs. He refuses to take a neutral stand on events and phenomena that he photographs, so his comments in the text are often very subjective.

The title of his work – Finnish Report reflects the basic organisational principle that comprises a multitude of single narratives with digressive character. Namely, Micevski has his small-scale photographs done on printing machines in the ordinary photo shops, like any other tourist would do. Then he sticks them on the previously prepared cardboards forms used in police stations or hospitals for writing reports. Comments are typed in the columns indicated for that on an old typing machine. That gives the work the quality of a pseudo-archives artefact.

Micevski applies techniques typical for the post-modernist art practice, relativizing and problematizing terms such as author, identity, meaning, unity of subject, truth, order. Semantically neutral photographs – interiors, landscapes, portraits of friends, benches in the park and details of architectural objects – become “intelligible’ to the observer only in combination with the text that offers information on the environment where the artists has taken the photographs.

However, it soon turns out that the implicit author offers us false and/or insufficient pieces of information. He blends images with invented legends imposing his interpretation of events. He manipulates real and fictitious quotations and he multiplies the narrator’s positions (he makes comments about the comments in the footnotes – “another metaphor; the author seems to avoid speaking without needless stylistic interjections on purpose”). He also incorporates unreliable and confusing footnotes (for example, “unclear place; not related to either the previous or the things that follow”). Micevski re-examines the position of an author adopting a strategy of narrating which is known in the theory of literature as an unreliable source. According to the literary convention, this type of narrator possesses an insufficient knowledge about events he is talking about, either because his system of values is in opposition to the very point of that story or because he is not capable of being impartial.[2]

Micevski quotes the entire genres[3] in order to show their artificiality and to subvert their conventions by means of applying parody and parabola. Finnish Report represents an idiosyncratic creation which comprises elements of a statistical research, a pseudo-scientific report, an anthropological study, an anecdotal account, a newspaper report, a tourist guide and a personal diary. Besides playing with the register of genres, the author extensively applies variations from the register of rhetoric (irony and hyperbole). This work might be characterized best by the application of the metaphor of rhizomes which Deleuze and Guattari introduced into their classification of various types of discourse. They understand a rhizome as “a paradigm of heterogeneous reality, an open model of coexistence of the multitude: “lines of division” turn into “lines of escape” within a rhizome; it is decentralised, more like a map than a print, in one word, a rhizome is the production of the very subconscious.”[4]

Finnish Report consists of “neutral” segments – distinctive typological analyses of the Finnish minimalist architecture (humorously called “Thinking Finnish”), a bench for one person in the park and beaches – as well as episodes that bear a personal, almost autobiographical mark. “Sleeping in Strange Places” consists of photographs of the very author, sleeping in other people’s beds and turning his back to the observer. The textual framework evokes the myth about Procrustes. “Grandfather’s Story” is inspired by a radio that is identical to the one owned by the author’s grandfather. The author discovered it in a museum dedicated to a local writer who lived in a Finnish town with the population of 2000 people. This segment consists of two parallel series of photographs showing interiors, the house of the author’s grandfather located in Vojvodina and the aforementioned museum inFinland, whereby the author “accidentally” mixes elements from the two series.

In spite of his formal and semantic polyvalence, it seems to me that Micevski in his photographs with the textual comments, nevertheless, first of all, re-examines his own feeling of identity in a different cultural context.

Paula Muhr


[1] Ramamurthy, Anandi, “Spectacle or Illusion” in Wells, op.cit, translation in the manuscript

[2] Macey, op.cit. p.387

[3] “Created in the film studios in order to label the same kind of films (such as westerns, melodramas, film noir), the term “genre” refers to various types of cultural product. But, the term “genre” is not only a type of classification. Genres contain specific types of history, practices, ideological assumptions and expectations which transform in time in order to take variable cultural formations into consideration.” (Wells, Liz, “On And Behind The White Walls” in Wells, op.cit., translation in the manuscript)

[4] Jovanov, op.cit.p.38

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