DRAGANA JURIŠIĆ | My Own Unknown

  February –
March 2018

The Familiar, © Dragana Jurišić  

My Own Unknown, is an on-going series of work by Dublin-based photographer Dragana Jurišić. A very personal exhibition, the work addresses the complexities of exile, politics and betrayal together with family history. Organised into 5 chapters, the work opens out to explore important universal themes, in particular the role of Woman as Muse in the western art tradition, and the complex hybridity of female identities, both real and imagined.

The exhibition combines text and photographs, appropriated imagery, notebooks, video and performance. Narrated through differing voices, it opens with the story of the disappearance of the artist’s aunt, Gordana Čavić, from rural Yugoslavia in the 1950s, and her mysterious death in Paris in the 1980s. A life shrouded in intrigue, it involves tales of multiple identities, illicit sex and espionage.

Ideas around unknowingness and intrigue are further explored in the 2nd Chapter. L’Inconnue de la Seine (The Unknown Woman of the Seine) is the name given to a young woman whose body was recovered from the River Seine. The death mask cast from this serene unknown beauty was an inspiration for artists such as Man Ray, Albert Camus, Anais Nin. Jurišić probes the relationship between beauty and artistic endeavour and brings a feminist perspective to the tension between the ‘worshiping of an image’ and notions of truth and authenticity.

In Chapter 3 100 Muses, Jurišić challenges the notion of the passive female muse – a cliché of the Western art tradition. Working with 100 women who responded to an open call, Jurišić worked collaboratively with her subjects to explore womens’ own responses to the female gaze. The resulting series of nude portraits presents a powerful re-imagining of the female nude and raises pertinent issues on the representation of women.

Chapter 4 Mnemosyne’s Daughters, explores the idealised notion of woman as Goddess. Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, was the daughter of Gaia (the Great Mother of all), and the mother to the nine Muses: Calliope, Clio, Euterpe, Erato, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia and Urania.

The work culminates in the final chapter, Noli Timere Mnemosyne, where the paths of the main protagonists of My Own Unknown merge.