How to do things with words? This issue is the core of the artistic exploration of Lala Raščić, whose analyses evolve through the engaging tension between the fields of textuality and narration. Her works, which usually take the form of a narrative performance, never resolve this tension. Quite the contrary, the work of Lala Raščić aptly balances on a tight rope between language and performance, without ever taking a final stand on the thin line between the two fields.
The most frequent starting point of Raščić’s artistic examination is text – a fragment found by chance or an almost forgotten book – which triggers a chain reaction of disentangling its different layers. The initial gesture of Lala Raščić is very close to what Derrida calls iterability, the repeatability of (linguistic) signs. A sign is not depleted at the moment it is recorded; meaning can elude the author’s intention and live independently of individual production or reception, which means that in Raščić’s gesture, text is endowed with autonomy, carefully neutralising obsolete concepts of authenticity. No Country Other than Liberty, which follows the travel log of the French anarchist geographer Élisée Reclus, takes us along the Mississippi River and presents the industrial landscape of the Louisiana Delta, which has been imprinted with the interests of latter-day capitalism. The text reference from the 1850s is eerily consistent with the scenes of the southern landscape which the artist captured in 2013, along with all its political and economic preoccupations. A similar deconstruction is at play in the work …brighter than a thousand suns…; it also builds on a specific historical experience, which soon proves to be quite contemporary. Raščić examines the issue of the use and abuse of nuclear energy by unfolding three fragments of text, two books and one oral testament. The deconstruction is obvious not only in the video, but is radicalised by the entire installation, in which graphic elements from one of the textual references assume independent existence as wall paintings. The installation also includes an Event which acts like an incursion of the real into the symbolic sphere. For a moment, an explosion of light deletes the work from the viewer’s experience, affirming that the experience of catastrophe cannot be symbolised in language or image. Intelligent manoeuvring with different contexts and registers is also a feature of The Damned Dam project, an epic work influenced by motifs from the Bosnian oral story-telling tradition, and of epic proportions, including diverse elements as research, blog, performance and illustration. From a Wellesian event, the broadcasting of radio play Catastrophe about the breaking of the local dam and the ensuing panic in the Bosnian town of Lukavac, Lala Raščić builds a very complex project. She narrates a futurist love story about a young couple who embarks on a nomadic expedition through the post-apocalyptic Balkans struck by natural disasters. To this end, she revives the traditional form of epic folk ballad and tackles the air of insecurity and disenfranchisement of post-industrial Bosnian society through its hybridisation and social and gender updating. Lala’s strategy is a strategy of double writing. It seems that by confronting dychotomic elements of fiction and factuality, fairy tale and documentary, as well as by combining the roles of the author, interpreter and actor, the work of Lala Raščić moves toward deconstruction, overturning the traditional oppositions and destabilising the value systems in a double gesture, as, according to Derrida, “deconstruction does not consist in passing from one concept to another, but in overturning and displacing a conceptual order, as well as the non-conceptual order with which the conceptual order is articulated”.
A sign is defined by what is absent – it is defined by other signs. Therefore, there is no first, original version of texts used by Lala Raščić, there is only constant deferral of meaning, which is triggered by a linguistic event. This process is unveiled in the work Whatever the Object, where an accidentally found fragment of text triggers extensive forensic reconstruction, whose final form is again textual. The works Sorry, Wrong Number and Load From the Inside follow a similar logic of deconstructing symbolic structure: in the case of the former on the basis of a radio play, where non-synchronised sound and image highlight the rifts in the presence/authenticity of message, which is to be conveyed by the human voice, while in the latter through the farcical non-simultaneous events in the photographs of Freud’s flat from 1937 and the comic presence of the artist, who repeatedly slips (in a Freudian manner?) while trying to position herself in the scene. Thus, performances by Lala Raščić literally refer to their linguistic counterparts – like performatives, they create reality from themselves, but with clear Derridean emphasis that a successful performative is always an impure performative, which owes its success to the fact that it always repeats something.
Curated by: Vladimir Vidmar
The Damned Dam, performed by Lala Raščić and Jusuf Brkić: Thursday, 6th March, at 9 pm.
Guided tours of the show: Wednesday, 19th March, and Thursday, 27th March, at 6 pm.
The programme of Škuc Gallery is supported by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and Cultural Department of the City of Ljubljana.