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Danica Dakić

April 30, 2011 - August 7, 2011

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Bosnian artist Danica Dakić creates videos and photographs that explore displacement, role-playing, and alienation. Her exhibition features Isola Bella (2007-2008), a video created with the residents of a facility for the mentally and physically disabled, the Home for the Protection of Children and Youth, in a town outside of Sarajevo. Dakić transforms the facility’s small theater into a film set by inserting a 19th-century wallpaper design called “Isola Bella,” which features imagery of this tropical island, and a piano. Enlisting the residents as participants, they wear Victorian paper masks—ranging from Marie Antoinette to Carmen Miranda to Caesar to a Native American chief—which hide their identities and expressions and allow them to role-play and to re-invent themselves. The video alternates between the residents’ performance in front of the wallpaper and their reactions as audience members. The sense of abundance created by the lush scenery and ornate masks is disrupted by the contrast with residents’ plain clothes and the institution’s linoleum floor. Through storytelling and improvised songs, the residents weave together their personal histories and desires, creating a space between documentary and performance that is part fact and part fantasy. The video projection is accompanied by a three-part “movie poster.” This will be Dakić’s first solo exhibition in a U.S. museum.

Organized by Anne Ellegood, Hammer senior curator.

ESSAY

By Emily Gonzalez

Bosnian artist Danica Dakić creates videos and photographs that explore displacement, role-playing, and alienation. Employing the tropes of historical painting, she places people in ornate and poignant settings. Her works come out of collaborations with her protagonists—including Romani communities in Kosovo, underage refugees in Germany, and a Huichol family in Mexico—who participate in various aspects of the work, including the script, costumes, and staging. This level of involvement allows their distinctive personalities and desires to permeate the tableaux vivants created by Dakić. In this way, she explores identity with a sense of empathy and empowers her often politically, socially, or economically disadvantaged participants to perform their own narratives.

Dakić originally studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo. She became interested in the German artist Joseph Beuys and his teaching that art has the capacity to change lives. In order to find remnants of his aura, she enrolled at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art, where Beuys had been an influential teacher. In Düsseldorf she studied with the pioneering video artist Nam June Paik and began working with video and photography. Now living in both Sarajevo and Düsseldorf in addition to working internationally, Dakić has a personal understanding of navigating between very different cultures. Her experience as a painter as well as her interest in architecture, music, and theater are central to her artistic approach and add a richness of content to her work. More

 

Hammer Projects is made possible with major gifts from Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy and The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

Additional generous support is provided by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Good Works Foundation and Laura Donnelley; L A Art House Foundation; Kayne Foundation—Ric & Suzanne Kayne and Jenni, Maggie & Saree; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and the David Teiger Curatorial Travel Fund.

 

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