Barvale, 2010.

Digital photo prints 90x60cm

“The attention which, during the previous years, has been paid to the position and problems of the minorities (which is, unfortunately, more the consequence of the mere adoption of standards than the real maturing of the society) has created a climate for creation of seriously engaged art that deals with this subject (engaged art however does not belong to the Montenegrin artistic tradition; this exhibition implies that things are changing in that field as well). This catalogue is prepared for the exhibition, which consists of the portraits of Roma who have asserted themselves in the society or who are on the way of assertion. Barvale – Successful! 

The attempt to perceive a society through serial portraits is not a new thing in the history of photography. With the different level of engagement and artistic freedom, many famous photographers have tried to make a synthesis, review of certain social-historical moment or epoch, whether it is an documentary review consisting of hundreds of arranged photographs (Sander), random portraits of people from subway (Evans) or a compilation of paradigmatic presentations of American society (Serano). Although Roma and their culture have been subject of works of art of some great artists, such as Bresson and Koudelka, in many cases, photographers choose this subject just as an exotic diversity, often with insincere pathos and compassion, consciously or unconsciously supporting notorious stereotype about Roma. Thus, it was necessary to prepare very carefully and consistently implement this project, since opposing to a certain prejudice can easily be misunderstood (for example, as a simple denial, secondary marginalization or making of the picture “minority in minority”). Also, as opposed to the works of the mentioned photographers who used the serial portrait method, collective consciousness, in this case, it does not offer especially large contextual room for maneuver. 

All the photographs which are included in this selection have been taken in the same manner -high-budget production manner, which is typical for portraits of successful persons or those who want to present themselves as successful persons -politicians, sportsmen, show business stars and similar. The author’s professional experience in the field of commercial photography has been appropriately used for the purpose of artistic expression. Although, all portrayed individuals represent themselves on photographs, costume elements, equipment, gesture often make them play certain roles – as representatives of certain type or profession. It is clear, that these, sometimes intentionally over-emphasized indicators, serve for generalization purposes and for entirely photo- quality purposes (it must always be born in mind that an author is not a journalist or sociologist, but an artist). Identical photographic treatment (lights, background, photo-shot angle...) enabled illusion of documentarism and certain distance of the author, even an admixture of certain automatism what makes an impression that the exhibited portraits have been chosen from tens or hundreds of similar photographs, emphasizing the »representativeness« of the model. Also, the choice of studio environment enabled deviation from context which usually accompanies ambient portraits (which are commonly popular among photographers regarding „picturesque diversity”), creating the room for additional emphasizing of model individuality. Accompanying black and white photographs discretely introduce the environment where portrayed people live and work, what puts the whole story within particular (just specified) geographical and social framework of contemporary Montenegro. 

The method which Duško Miljanić has chosen to tell the story about the most successful Roma does not rely on emphasizing of their diversity nor on importance or dimension of their achievement, while always ambivalent (and often disputable) identity discourse has been avoided. These portraits ascertain universal and civil values which by themselves eliminate division into „majority” and „minorities”. The choice of specific genre model completely serves this purpose. In terms of that, these photographs should be observed primarily as civil portraits. 


Master of photography
Lazar Pejovic


2010 – 2012 BARVALE

Collection Barvale – color prints format – unframed 65x50cm/framed 84x69cm

  • Podgorica “Art Gallery”, Montenegro, april 2010.
  • Faculty of Arts Cetinje, Montenegro, may 2010.
  • National Gallery of Macedonia “Cifte Amam”, Skopje, jun 2010.
  • Photography days in Serbia, Čačak, jun 2010.
  • Palace Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France, oct 2010.
  • Roma Pavilion Collateral Event, Roma Media Archive, La Biennale di Venezia 2011.
  • Europa Cinema Hall, Zagreb, Croatia, dec 2012.