Janja Kralj

 

Fragile

 

 ​What does it mean to be a human being nowadays? What is the real meaning of that word now? Are humans aware of their existence? These are the questions put by Milena. Coming from Montenegro to Paris, Milena discovered the metro and existence of an underground world that has become the initiator of a series of inner reconsiderations of the young artists and her work. Marked by a sensibility of her own roots characterised by a powerful presence of interpersonal relations and freedom of emotions, facing of the artist with the new reality and rules of behaviour has encouraged thinking about the general position of people in the modern world. It is that encounter of her own “baggage” and her personal impressions of the new environment that Milena transfers onto her works. We are nowadays permanently surrounded by advertisements, notices, sign-posts, different signs for better traffic circulation, and instructions how to use each product no matter how banal it may be. The artists “borrows” the form of those signs from her environment in order to create new, her own signs whose visual power serves as an alarm for humanity. Milena has consciously left the heritage of the academic painting and abolished the classical relation to the painting as an object. That is primarily reflected in her decision to leave canvasses without frame, making it equal to any other product. Living in constant travellings between Montenegro and France, her paintings have become her permanent baggage. Moving from one place to another, from one environment to another make the process of experiencing these events faster. That is why Milena’s painting seems to be “fast”, just like the fast rhythm of the urban life going on between the underground world of metro and numerous instructions and advertisements. Milena chooses the same schematic form of those signs on purpose in order to warn in a fast and effective way of the state of crisis of nowadays people. Wishing to preserve the ground world, people have built another parallel world under the ground. In the name of the so-called better quality of the bourgeois life and protection of environment, monuments and heritage, people have unconsciously become victims of their own actions. Wishing to protect what is above the ground, they go underground without realising what the result or price of that sacrifice can be. In their constant wish to introduce order into everyday life, Western people do not

​realise that they stop the natural process and development of life, underestimating their own ability of orientation. In a subtly ironical way, the artist points to the fact that people nowadays have become a product, imposing on themselves rules such as waiting in a queue for instructions and permissions to meet their basic needs. In the power of her sensibility, she sees those instructions as an attack to human individuality. That is why her works look like a series of manifestos serving human consciousness. Resorting to fast and free strokes and simplifying forms, the artist transfers her “scream” against dehumanisation, against our repetitive life that equalizes people with machines. The way luminous advertisements invite to consumption, Milena’s works invite to waking up of consciousness and consumption,but that is the consumption of our fragility.

People are reduced to “traffic signs”, without identity, which is the result of consumption created by themselves. Following frantically the rules of living, people become products of their own factory.

​Nowadays, everything is marked, everything has a number and that is why Milena creates new personal cards where face is only a blotch on the paper punched just like products on an assembly line or tickets for metro. All that is put on a paper with instructions how to use the painting material. The whole identity card has nothing personal but becomes a card of a product, without indication that it refers to a human being. The first impression of seemingly simplified and uniformed forms, almost as if produced by a child, is soon replaced by the realization of the meaning of the message that the young artist wants to convey. Her works belong to that kind of art that cannot leave the beholder indifferent. Everything reverberates with freedom and lack of conditionality for which it is necessary to have some kind of strength, since facing the truth on one’s own reality is in question. It is not meant to remain unnoticed. Just like the traffic sign that serves as a warning of danger that we cannot avoid, Milena’s painting serves as a warning to people of their existence. It invites us to position ourselves against our reality. Milena’s people are reduced to basic lines in order to warn us that our identity disappears slowly for the sake of general unification. The power of red colour as a symbol of freedom of emotions is present to remind us of

​human vulnerability and fragility. The humourous is mixed with the dramatic, the juvenile with the frightening, the innocent with the hellish, spontaneity with mature consciousness. It is owing to this brutal and impulsive aspect that Milena’s work is deeply humanistic. Milena wraps people into bands FRAGILE, wishing to protect them. Her work is S.O.S., the last scream supposed to wake up human consciousness.

​JANJA KRALJ, Paris, 2004.

 

 

Text published in the Art book FAMOUS august 2006, London