Milica Tomic

That the political is personal is clear in Milica Tomic’s works, such as in the Internet project I am Milica Tomic from 1999, which is activated when the user clicks on a photo of the artist. The result of a mouse click, is for example in that Tomic gets a nosebleed that runs slowly down over her mouth, or that a cut appears on her cheek. Tomic herself says that in the 1980s she decided to speak from ‘the position of the wound’. The political climate of the time was hostile to Serbians, who would not define themselves first and foremost in relation to their ethnic roots. They were seen as being a kind of bastards – an open wound in the Serbian society. After this Tomic decided – although it was a difficult choice – to let her identity as a Christian Serb be a private matter and express herself in public from the position of the wound. Questions of identity and belonging are therefore also central themes in several of Tomic’s projects.

Tomic plays the central part in most of her photo- and video works. But in the video work Reading Capital from 2004, it is prominent citizens from San Antonio, Texas who speak to the artist’s camera. The participants quote passages from Marx’s Das Kapital in private surroundings they have chosen, and which they think represent themselves in the best way – in a green leather sofa, by the fire place, or in front of a large abstract painting.

Reading Capital is inspired by avant-garde filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, who in the 1930s planned a film about Karl Marx’ Das Kapital that was never realised. According to Eisenstein it is possible to provoke dialectical thinking in the audience via a certain method, ‘intellectual montage’. In this special form of montage two shots are put together and the collision between the two elements creates a new meaning – a synthesis, which only exists in our heads. After having been exposed to the schooling of the film, the viewer, the worker, would be able to see through and decipher the world through communist eyes.

Tomic uses Eisenstein’s montage technique on a more conceptual level. In Reading Capital, central passages of Marx’s critique of capitalism are read out loud by some of Texas’ most successful capitalists. Here is a juxtaposition of a time, when one could still believe in a world without private property with the present situation, where capitalism has prevailed globally. In Tomic’s work the collision does not result in an edifying synthesis, but more in a vacuum – which concerns both the Texan capitalists and the Marxist way of thinking.

By Pernille Albrethsen, translated by Eva May



Milica Tomic in collaboration with Branimir
Stojanovic: "Reading Capital" (DVD installation,
screening wall, text, t-shirts c, sound,10min, loop)
Photographer: Todd Johnson. Gallery view ArtPace,
courtesy ArtPace.