Katarina Šoškić is a photographer and artist researcher from Belgrade, based in Vienna. She is interested in the potency of an image – the way its narrative qualities could be employed to question social structures. She uses photography and words to research and analyze social phenomena, culture and subculture, the impacts of tradition and history, the constriction of social roles and underlying psychological mechanisms. What she finds most challenging in her work is the choice of taking certain positions, the possibilities of switching points of view and questioning the diversity of possible truths. Parallel to this, she works as a photographer commissioned in the field of portrait, fashion and reportage photography.
YOUR WORK IS QUITE INTERDISCIPLINARY. HOW WOULD YOU CONSIDER THE RELATION OF PHOTOGRAPHY, VIDEO, VOICE AND TEXT AND RESEARCH IN YOUR WORK?
KS: In my research, the topic of coastal tourism serves me as a sample to further investigate, from one side, the capacity of a photographic image to stand alone and question a social phenomenon, as well as its relation to experience, memory and written word, and from another side, possibilities and ways in which artists can bring new insights relevant for overall knowledge and understanding of tourists and traveling. Still, in my study, I deliberately take the role of an amateur, a curious amateur, in all other disciplines that traditionally address the topic of tourism, while still being an expert in taking subjective point of view, or switching points of views, that is permitted in arts. That is how I see this jump between and across disciplines, while I see photography, video and text as research tools in my work. There, walking, circling and observing can be taken as research methods. As my work is not result oriented, and photographs in this project are not taken with the idea to be independently displayed, I explore ways of reporting about these experiences, and that is where written word, reading aloud and voice became important.
DO YOU HAVE TO BE AN ACTIVIST AS AN ARTIST WHO – LIKE IN YOUR CASE – IS INTERESTED IN POPULAR CULTURE PHENOMENA LIKE TOURISM?
KS: I don’t see myself as an activist in a direct meaning of this word. Still, I do think that anyone who tends to understand her role in a wider system of relations and to consequently act through her practice in a line with this understanding, is an active carrier of change. This approach is based on self-reflection, positioning and decision-making on a micro-plan and is rather silent, discreet and recursive.
HOW WOULD YOU SEE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF COLLABORATIVE RESPECTIVELY COLLECTIVE WORK PROCESSES IN REALIZING AN ART PROJECT?
KS: As a student I was often annoyed when asked to work in groups and search for ways to fit together with fellow students, just for the sake of practicing collaboration and collectiveness. It felt forced and unauthentic and except of some communicational skills and patience, I didn’t gain much out of it. On the other hand, I always appreciated collectives and collaborative projects that organically evolve around ideas that people share. I think that is how communities are created. First, there is a topic, a question, a problem, which takes you, and then you realize that you are not alone, or you cannot do it alone, or that what you do is stronger when you do it together with someone. I enjoy these moments of exchange and translation, and I see it very much in relation to learning processes.
Additionally, even when artistic practice is seemingly based on solitary attitudes, as mine appears to be, it is always related to some external context that is installed upon certain regulations. It is exciting to imagine how different art practices would look like if they were not established within a system of art institutions or networks. Would they be even considered artistic, and what is it that legitimizes an artist’s practice?
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
KS: I want to finish my PhD this year. Artistic Research, similarly to Social Design, is a term that is difficult to define, and it has a tendency to stay undefinable. This openness is mostly inspiring but when it is done within the educational institution like a university, there is a strong claim for leaving accessible traces within the system of knowledge production, what subtly imposes certain restrictions. Therefore, I am in search of a right format, which will articulate the questions and insights of my research, but which also will stay playful and brave to refer to the aspect of Artistic Research that I find most exciting – the unnamable itself.
“I understood Social Design as a concept that rejects being precisely defined. This vagueness creates a space for constant questioning of its possible meanings and roles. While being a social designer, a social designer constantly redefines the boundaries of her practice, and adds to potentiality of this field to tackle upon societal issues. These insights are often implemented into projects to further reflect these questions, both of practice and issues they address. This is how I understood it as a visiting artist in Social Design class, last semester. Now, it is funny, but when I read my own words until this point, I can repeat it all and apply it to my artistic practice in which I work with photography and as a photographer. In that sense, to photograph and to be photographed, for example, or to use photographic images, to put them on display and to look at them – all need to be reconsidered as social activities, gestures or habits in a wider socio-political context.” Katarina Šoškić
- Winter Semester 2020 - 2021
- Katarina Šoškić