Lica mog vremena, 2020.

Photo art book, 22x24cm

Exhibition digital prints, 110x90cm

Mnogo hvala: Jeleni, Čaju i Stanki, Mioni i Janji, Mirjani i Lazaru, Nevenu i Mašu, Paulini i Antoneli, Siniši i Voju, Ani i Robertu, Adeli, Guli, Danilu, Mireli, Milici, Krletu i Zoanu

What makes up the spirit of a place, and how does it change, survive or disappear?


In a society subordinated to the interests of capital, are citizens at all able or willing to influence the changes that take place in their environment?


Is it whatsoever possible to respond to the changes and preserve one's own microcosm in the circumstances of global capital domination?


Do we uncritically and indiscriminately accept everything that is offered to us on the global market, adopt new worldviews and practices and thus effect the loss of our own history and identity?


Can cultural heritage, which is passed down through the generations as a reflection of human creativity and identity, be valorised as a sustainable product of society, without degradation and profanation?


How can one artistically, through the medium of photography, reflect on these to me important topics, because I myself feel them as part of my heritage and identity?

These are some of the questions that prompted the work on the multi-year research that resulted in this book and the accompanying photo exhibition. The work on the book was not one-way, towards a predetermined goal: the directions of research changed and it became more complex and layered. I increasingly wanted to weave into it as much as possible. The objective and the subjective kept intertwining. There is the well-known transition economy transformation of Tivat and the entire Boka: the gradual disappearance of the "spirit of the place", the commodification of cultural heritage and tradition, a process that is noticeable everywhere, especially here, and concerns the entire social, cultural and political life of Montenegro. 

And then, there is also my personal relationship with my hometown, the feelings towards the environment in which I grew up. It is my relationship with Tivat of my childhood and the memories of grandfather Mato, of Češljar and Kokoti, of the tastes and smells of the small town, its stories and events, and above all of the people who made up that world: fishermen, craftsmen, madams, artists, respectable citizens, rascals...

I started the work with a small number of portraits of men and women of Tivat, taken in 2018 and 2019, and later continuously increased and finally included in this book. I wanted to present them not as typical representatives of certain occupations or social classes but as a part of a broader story that represents the local spirit and identity of the city. The city adorned with wonderful qualities, humanity and empathy, innate culture in interaction, commitment to the community, mastery of craftsmanship and a high level of social intelligence. I saw them as psychological portraits that reflect life stories and decades of experience, showing the peculiarities of a small place and its way of life. Each portrait is simultaneously a strong personal story, but also a story about the place they come from. The story, I hope, can be universal, and pertinent to any other, similar Mediterranean ambience that undergoes the same transformation.

Communication and cooperation with my models was precious: through our regular meetings, I kept discovering new moments, and over time we became closer, which allowed me to learn a lot of new information and to better understand what I already knew about them. After talking and socializing, they would be the ones deciding on the day when the portrait would be taken, at what location, in what part of the day and under what conditions. I placed my "heroes" in an improvised studio, set onsite, in their usual surroundings, with a pleasant atmosphere or in working environments, just where the person feels most comfortable. All portraits were taken with a neutral background, to serve only as a "frame" highlighting the portrait, but not eliminating the ambience. The visual effect is simple, using only a couple of compositions, and occasionally a spontaneous or pre-set but simple and unobtrusive detail…

Encouraged by the initial outcomes, I decided to offer broader context implied by the portraits themselves. That entailed including documentary and historical photography, as well as my landscape and life photography, and a special group of photographs depicting today's reality of Tivat, with its new "glitz and glamour". All of them were given special purposes in the book - for each portrait, photographs were selected that symbolically support it or illustrate the themes or events that they mention in their accounts.

This story about Tivat was complemented by authors’ texts, poetry, short narrations about the personalities and events of my fellow citizens, who lived and breathed "our" Tivat, and still do so. But those were not their sole gifts; they offered advice, ideas, discussions and goodwill to help and contribute, just as it has always been done in this town. That is how this book was created, and I hope it can preserve however limited experience of the Tivat that is now disappearing before our eyes.

Dusko Miljanic