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Stranger Danger

Saša Tkačenko, Vuk Ćuk, Julija Zaharijević

Artists: Saša Tkačenko, Vuk Ćuk and Julija Zaharijević
Curator: Natalija Paunić

This show brings together the practices of three artists who offer different reflections on reality. The signature piece (Saša Tkačenko – Unknown, Talk to Unknown), placed in the window of the gallery, advertises a call for caution with neon light, literally showcasing the words “stranger” and “danger” and setting the tone even before the space is entered. The nouns that rhyme come from Vladimir Nabokov’s reflection on individualist hardship, translated into the context of today’s social traps. On the other hand, while some of Nabokov’s words seemed progressive or supportive of liberal thinking, his chauvinist statements (for example, his “doubt” in women writers) cast a different light on his persona. That every reality is multilayered comes across in Julija Zaharijević’s work too, who uses the mutable nature of symbols to the advantage of many possible interpretations. The works that are shown at Trotoar disfigure the typical Chesterfield sofa pattern, a well-known visual token often associated with the patriarchal view on success, wealth or beauty (all of which might be interchangeable in this view). The buttons are no longer placed in the familiar grid, but rather take on a hybrid form, simulating an organic process of disintegration with no control, turning onto oneself, a cancerous growth. By analogy, this process applies to the adulthood of a generation that matured in parallel to the Internet. The loss of control over our own online behaviors and data, the ultimate burnout from a continuous presence, comes across through Vuk Ćuk’s practice. His works are made of collected objects that are considered useless, strange, and mass-produced, mostly purchased via AliExpress. Placed on the gallery floor, they are arranged into ritualistic shapes that do not replicate plain circles, but smiley faces – a symbol that is essentially as abstract as the next thing.
-Natalija Paunić

About the invited Gallery

Eugster || Belgrade aims to represent the most relevant contemporary art from the southeast of Europe. The gallery explores the diverse local identities in mutual correspondence and in dialog with international artistic practices, global events, and urgent topics. Being set in the center of former Yugoslavia, the focus is placed on the new ways in which art in its then-belong- ing countries can develop in the upcoming years, how art can affect the relations between the neighbouring nations, and how it transcends from local to international. 
Eugster II Belgrade

About the Artists

Saša Tkačenko
Vuk Ćuk
Julija Zaharijević

About the Curator

Natalija Paunić (*1990) is a curator, mediator, and writer from Belgrade. She is interested in discovering new, intersectional approaches to curating and writing, as well as how the personal affects the professional in our lives, and vice versa. Her primary areas of interest include feminism, accelerationism, ecology, luxury, waste, and love. Natalija got her formal education in curating from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2017, after a master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Belgrade. She worked on projects that were part of programs at: Eugster || Belgrade (throughout the years), Kunsthaus Dresden (2022), National Gallery of Northern Macedonia in Skopje (2022), Confluence Institute for Innovation and Creative Strategies in Architecture (Paris) at Biennale Sessions (Venice, 2022); British Council and LUX Moving Image foundation (2020-2021), Q21 at MuseumsQuartier (Vienna, 2019), Enclave Projects in London (2016, 2017), European Architecture Students Assembly (EASA) in Denmark (2017), Public School for Architecture Brussels (2017), ICA in London (as part of ICA Young, 2016), among others. She worked as a mediator for Documenta 14 in Kassel (2017). Some of the texts and interviews she wrote were published online recently in Spike Magazine, Mousse, and Les Nouveaux Riches, among others; and as part of the new book of texts in relation to witchcraft, art, and feminism as seen through the practice of Šejla Kamerić (Mother is a bitch, Distanz publishing, Berlin). As of 2023, she works on the development of the LUKOWA Art Foundation in Lucerne.