Irena Lagator Pejović


Nature Culture

2014/2016/2020, Digital print on fine art paper, 53 x 80 cm (each), ongoing series
Photo: Irena Lagator.

The work Nature Culture is an ongoing contextual photo series which shows the direction of a future magistral road which has never been completed due to urban, structural, or political issues in Montenegro. The road is directed towards and intended to cut directly through a wide cypress forest. On the other hand, for years the road has remained as an element of a “promise” and hope for “development”, and of a future suspended between public promises, real possibilities, and political intentions within the reign of a wild neoliberal exceptionalism. This road’s ending is also one of many places where the city ends; however, the first photo shows a clear intention for growth and development, which over the years has proved to be hardly on the agenda not due to the eventual awareness of destructive ecocide but because of the power of fake promises.
I am interested in making visible how the lack of responsibility towards the environment, as well as towards our society, causes absurd and paradoxes which have the potential to initiate critical engagement and potentiality for ecological and social emancipation. Noam Chomsky also spoke of the phenomenon of delay that is succeeding promises as of a strategy of manipulating citizens for political or strategical reasons. If changes are announced long time in advance like this series shows, the multitude does not feel them when they actually start to happen, and that causes the intellectual as well as physical spaces to remain open to endless manipulation. In promises of “globalization”, not only spaces are appropriated, but also our ability to feel, think, distinct, as well as to resist.
On the other side, this ongoing series, as ecologically and oriented toward decolonization, also activates questions about the increasingly growing tensions between our assumptions about what Culture and Nature are and should be. By making this critical “direction” visible, this piece stands for activation of the perception of the citizen about the invisible structural powers that are organizing our lives and spaces, shaping our perception, leaving us without even the possibility of resistance. It also questions us about our cultural abilities to respond and our natural surroundings to be defended.