Multimedia artist Daliborka Kordić Bajrović displays her newest exhibition this month in Kotor, Montenegro.
The space is covered from floor to ceiling in painted black canvas. In a centred stripe along the walls, a line of portraits encircles the room standard printer A7s covered in colourful felt marker tribal designs. Hard metal blasts from the speakers. In the centre of the gallery, standing on a perfect target, a woman wears studded leather high heels, slimming black tights and a black, red and white skull scarf tied in a triangle over her chest. Her long dark hair is down except for the carefully styled faux-hawk fanning to the ceiling. She has painted a black mask over her eyes. She switches poses from standing to crouching, her long limbs bent at acute angles. Daliborka Kordić Bajrović does not crack a smile for her entire performance even as the gallery fills with bystanders.
Kordić Bajrović is a multimedia artist, something quite uncommon in the small town of Kotor, Montenegro. She grew up in Kotor and after finishing her studies at the faculty of fine art in Cetinje, returned to her birthplace. Dabbling in conservative art, painting the beautiful vistas and vegetation of her hometown she quickly realized that this path of art was simply not enough for her to express her energy with.
So with her infectious positive spirit, her multimedia exhibitions were born. Part multimedia, part installation, Kotor had never seen anything like it when her first show opened at the City Gallery in 2007.
“I am my art. I am art. My face, my body and my energy and I have just a need to show myself and my art,” Kordić Bajrović says. “This is me; this is the way I work.”
Initially her neighbours and others in Kotor would come to her exhibitions to catch up on the latest gossip, says the 40-year old mother of two. Was she still married? Yes. Still a manager at the City Gallery? Yes.
Maybe it was the award she received in 2007 (best visual artist in Kotor) or maybe it was her exhibition in Herceg Novi, Montenegro’s most prestigious art salon (“an honour”), but the focus soon shifted from what shoes Kordić Bajrović was wearing at her openings, to her art.
It’s understandable her neighbours were so interested in the artist’s fashion. She is decidedly well dressed, an ode to rocker chic. Today she is wearing a simple white t-shirt with skulls over burgundy leopard-print tights. These are tucked into brown motorcycle boots with Harley Davidson patches — she dreams of one day owning a bike of her own, maybe travelling to Italy. She accessorizes with a skinny chain (from her toilet), a skull ring, black nails and a tattoo of a swirly sun on the top of her right hand (a symbol of her positive energy). “When I’m down it gives me strength to carry on with my life, to be positive, stay positive, think positive,” she says.
Her art, like most multimedia performance only lives in the moment it is created, on opening night when all the pieces fall into place. When that hour is up and the music is shut off and she steps out of character, the piece is put to rest. The space is dismantled and the parts recycled. Only those who have been in the piece, heard the music, seen the drawings, the lights, the costumes can truly revisit the art again one day.
Kordić Bajrović doesn’t make any money from her art. She’s sold a few pieces over the years – to visiting tourists – but nothing for her family to live off. In reality she goes into debt to create her pieces, borrowing money from the bank and then repaying it before starting anew.
She throws herself headfirst into all aspects of her life: mother, daughter, sister, artist, gallery manager, friend. But she sometimes struggles to maintain harmony. “When I eat, I eat too much, when I drink, I drink too much. When I love, I love too much,” she says. “I am so passionate in everything I do. It’s not good because I cannot find the balance.”
Kordić Bajrović’s newest multimedia piece was performed in late May, but her drawings will be on display for another few weeks at the City Gallery in Kotor. It’s the third in a series that also includes TARGET and CAGE.
(UN)CONFISCATED INTIMACY speaks to internal femininity and societal censorship on personal lives with public norms. Kordić Bajrović has taken advantage of the unique space of the gallery for her installation. In the doorway between the first and inner room she has placed metal bars from the floor to the ceiling. Spectators must manoeuvre around them if they wish to have a closer look at what’s on the other side: Kordić Bajrović herself! She is a pinup girl, radiating femininity from her perfectly pinned curls to red and white pumps. Along the walls her typographical paintings, the words “no” and “stop” are repeated throughout. The colour palate: red, white and black. There are fewer paintings than her other exhibitions, but the canvases are larger.
The installation is typically Kordić Bajrović and many from Kotor have turned out to see the artist’s latest creation. This will be the last exhibition she has for a while, at least until the New Year. When the pieces are disassembled, they’ll be stacked and stored, hopeful of a reincarnation someday, possibly in Croatia or a little further from home. But for now the pieces stay firmly on the walls, shocking spectators with their messages.