2002, installation, variable dimensions

„…it is nostalgia. It will soon become the dominant feeling of mankind.”

B.Hamvas  „In a manner of speaking”

The installation consists of a certain number  of books of writers who were either exiled onto an island (Saint John (who wrote the Apocalypse on a greek island), Victor Hugo (exiled to an english island), Dragoslav Mihailović (serbian writer who was imprisoned on Goli Otok during the Tito’s regime)….) or who constantly dealt with nostalgia and exile in their works (Bela Hamvas, Franz Kafka,……..).

In front of each book is a small fan blowing air into a photograph of an island taken from the tourist catalogues.



In his new installation entitled Time of Exile, Goran Micevski is treating theissue of banishment, tracing the presence of this theme in the works of writers who were either forced to leave their homeland or were dealing, through their work, characters or narratives, with leaving, longing and nostalgia. This is, however, only the basic point for the mentioned installation, a trace that goes through simulated examples of an imaginary edition of books, which can be open and read at only one, fixed page. Each of these handmade books is paired with framed photo of an island taken from the tourist catalogue and with a small fan.  The artist is, by confronting unexpectedly these three elements, releasing a number of possibilities to rethink nostalgia, its presence and remembering through different  branching of contemporary insights, as well as through relationship of linear, historic (writing) and cyclic, magical (photography) approach to reality. If we are to look at the materiality of this installation, it is its quantum nature that allows it to implement itself in an ever changing way and to contextualize its relationship with the space.

If we just follow the names and titles of the works that Goran Micevski uses in Time of Exile (Homer, Dante, Volt Whitman, Franz Kafka, Bela Hamvas, Miloš Crnjanski, Dragoslav Mihajlović, Albert Camus, Steven Brown…)  as well as fragments of texts, written on native tongues, we can notice that the problem of banishment goes deep into the past and that we can identify it as the first metaphor of language and human condition. The very fist exiles from the Garden of Eden were Adam and Eve, thus triggering linear flow of history, while destruction of theTower ofBabel and dispersion of its inhabitants led to the formation of thousands of human languages. The books in the installation bear the same load, looking so old and worn out. At the same time, they are the objects which pages are glued together, thus implicating the content which is off the limits, discontinued memory, repressed rememberance, forbidden longing with only a few words or sentences floating in the vastness of an empty page, confronting us with                     impossibility of translation. It is a leap into void; this being suggested in the very etymology of the word exile, coming from ex-salire, meaning to jump out; making us rethink double exposition of this term, that understands the suffering of separation and jump into the new life.

The gap, made by relocation, can easily be filled with nostalgia, longing for the home that doesn’t exist any more or has never existed, feeling of loss but also with seductiveness of one’s imagination.. This experience is not reserved only for those who have left their residence but to people who have gone through dramatic historical turmoils  and transitional periods, as well. Although, it is common to define nostalgia as a longing for a certain place, it is also a longing for a different time, a rebelion against modern understanding of time, defined through history, acceleration adn progress; it is also a sadness because of irreversibility of time. It is because of the mentioned that nostalgia overcomes individual psychology, fulfilling prophetic words of Bela Hamvas:… it is nostalgia. It will soon become dominant feeling of mankind.

In the installation, these books are paired with photo frames, which are usually used as ritual places of profane worship of persons and/or places, which we want to make ever-present, at least through picture. In this case, however, frames are not filled with personal documents, traces and memories, but with standardized, commercialized, and in that manner, impersonal photographs of islands taken from advertising brochures of travel agencies. This banalisation is radicalized with the fact that most of the banished persons, throughout history, have been exiled to different islands; thus making it a symbol of exile, a metaphor for loneliness, impossibility of communication, place of suffering. Much like two-dimensional, happy, blazing tourist sites, bathed in sunshine, these photographs blind, block memories, pointing to superficiality and redundnece of consumerism that seduces as well as anesthetizes. This generates a strange version of ambivalent tension, both painful and sobering. Painful, as remarkable and often poetical quotations from the books, much like echo of experience and remembering, bounce back from the photograph, not finding needed support, asking where could today’s nostalgicurge be directed. We are facing again with the leap into void, into interspace of instantaneous disintegration. The fan is there to ease the tension in a humorous way.

Going from  specific to general, from concrete to abstract, if we are to look at this work in the wider context of the paradigm in which we live, through the process of re-evaluating of all values, shifting in comprehension of time and ever greater mobility inside globalized world, the question which imposes itself is: is it neccessary or inevitably to understand nostalgia today as a dangerous luxury?

Maida Gruden