The University Art Gallery proudly presents Vesna Pavlovi?’s Fabrics of Socialism, on view from August 29 – October 14, 2018. Pavlovi? mines the archive of the former Yugoslavia to explore propaganda and collective memory, the medium of photography and the life and obsolescence of media. Offering “a psychological portrait of an era burdened with photographic representation of socialist propaganda,” Pavlovi? invites visitors to consider the role of photography in the fabrication and remembrance of communal identity.

As a nine year-old growing up in the former Yugoslavia, Pavlovi? participated alongside thousands of others in the spectacular and carefully recorded Youth Day celebration held in 1979 in honor of President Josip Broz Tito’s 87th birthday. Her participation is captured in a film of the event housed in Tito’s official archive, held in the Museum of Yugoslavia. Individual recollection and official state record meet in the photographic image and in the archive, for Pavlovi? invoking “the friction between personal and political narratives.”

In Fabrics of Socialism, photographs and footage of state events and celebrations - propagandistic images of political unity from the former Yugoslavia, a country which disintegrated into brutal sectarian violence in the early 1990s - are exposed as manufactured. Viewers are asked to consider the photographic image as a physical object, in the words of art historian Morna O’Neill “to think about not only what they see, but how they see….” Photographs, and the archives in which they are housed, are fragile. They have lives, as do the memories and official records and ideologies invested in them. For Pavlovi?, “political obsolescence becomes legible as such through technological obsolescence.” Visions of state propaganda, in all their monumentality and performance of unity, are revealed to be fragile, distorted and obscured by time.