“My work is always placed between genuinity and shame”
AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?
SM: I am from Saraorci, a village-like small town in the middle of Serbia. I firstly started engaging with art when I was very young – probably at the age of four – I started doing some kind of music performances dressed like a girl. I do remember I was wearing my dad’s tee-shirts as a mini skirt putting both of my legs inside if its sleeves and wearing scarves as long hair. It sounds weird if you could imagine Serbia and it’s people’s – mostly farmers – life in the ’90. I was bold and my parents were too.
AT: When did it become serious?
SM: Feel bad about it, but it became serious when I was introducing myself as an artist and for the first time I felt an awkward type of respect due to this and it made me feel powerful. There is always something more you can be than just a human being (this was resonating inside of me since I was a couple years old). This has to do with my narcissism for sure. Now I’m more convinced that me being an artist was more serious when I didn’t know what I was for real.
AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?
SM: I won’t say so, and it’s a bummer. Honest to the bone? Me, that’s it.
AT: What is your first approach to the work ? How would you describe your practice?
SM: Nothing really glamorous or fashionable to say. To me approaching a work is really serious. It is part of my truth that I’m struggling to put it out there in a world. I want to be heard. I want to be seen. And I pretend to do it in a way I want it to. It is just a whole suffering path. And it’s crazy how it is for quite all artists friends I know. It’s not just about the idea that strikes dead your brain in a frame of time, it’s more about the fear of failing in a real world when everything was so perfect in your mind. The fire of the new work would mean the resolution of your existence for awhile, then when the fire is extinguished it would mean just an artwork, an object, a quite
forgettable piece of something that will inevitably come to an end. Then it starts again and so on. This process could be really draining, but there’s nothing I can do to make it more comfortable. It is how it is. I’ve learnt not to complain about it anymore.
Guilty Pleasure – Solo Exhibition 2022 | Exhibition View courtesy: Galleria Daniele Agostini
AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?
SM: Crisis of conscience. And this could lead you into two different directions: the end of the world and the resurrection. I love how some people feel glad to see my penis-in-a-cage drawings, I’m really entertained to see what’s really enjoying them. Is it because they’re seeing penises or because there is some interesting relation to the power. Earning and destroying power. I love to see it when it comes to religion, money, parliament, homoerotism, drugs, Land Rover, penis sizes and philosophy. My work is always placed between genuinity and shame.
AT: What are your favorite tools and materials for working?
SM: I’m fascinated by abandoned objects, especially when they’re made out of some very fragile materials, like glass, crystal spheres and clothing accessories. When it comes to non-sculpture pieces I would say images or concepts very satisfying yet disturbing like psychotropic drugs, spiritual images, obscene and violent contents but with a beautiful outcome aesthetic. There is something in common with guns and romanticism, drugs and spiritual awakenings, the end of the world and peace. I’m a big fan of Artificial Intelligence too. I used some AI tools to generate my “Talking to the Sky” series. The project is composed of a group of images each made by an Open AI, capable of analyzing and understanding words and texts written by human beings. They are reworked
into images using very complex and ambiguous algorithms in order to create a photograph of people who do not exist but who seem real using data present on the internet. The project contains close-up faces of people intent on communicating with the sky in the form of prayer. An intimate moment that brings out different types of emotion on the faces: dismay, pain, anger, hope and so on. The project is a manifestation of the invisible on two distinct levels, the cultural one, as a prayer and the technological one, as its representation. The desire for redemption and understanding is manifested through the eyes of these faces, which try to peer into the sky at someone or something above them.
AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?
SM: I could never feel bored, that is what I can say. If I do I would burn it out at the end. It happened multiple times in the past and I’m not afraid to do it again if its necessary. It is mandatory to me to preserve this very intimate practice. I won’t share it with other people. In my studio or wherever I work I am alone, happily. I have a lot of secrets that will remain unshared and I’m pretty jealous about them.
AT: How do you understand that the work is finished?
SM: I don’t think you can ever say that a work is finished. Sometimes during my exhibitions I have the impulse to change everything few minutes before the opening. And I get crazy, but I stay firm. I’m suffering in seeing people appreciating something I would have changed two minutes before, well that’s tough. I’m never completely glad about the outcome of any of my work neither about the works I really love from other artists. Artworks are perfect only before they are carried out, then, they’re cut from your mind and placed on a wall or on a floor. When we appreciate their outcome I believe it’s because we love their limits to take us closer to the manifestation of the mystery. It is like having faith in something. You are moved every time closer to the fire, but you can’t touch it. You will never be illuminated because this will coincide with your complete burn.
Guilty Project, 2022, Pencils and charcoal on toned paper, 25 x 35 cm (each) | Courtesy Galleria Daniele Agostini
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work comes from?
SM: Believe me this is the hardest question. I have visions or daydreams and they always manifest themselves in the most wrong situations: before sleeping; while I’m doing something different and I can’t stop it to write or draw it down; on vacation, and when it happens it’s just a nightmare. But the worst is when you have already dedicated so much time to an artwork and then suddenly the whole idea of a new work just rush down your mind. What would you do? That is the moment to stop it all, just for awhile.
AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?
SM: I don’t want to let anybody behind but I just realized I’ve always been influenced by women. Artists and non-artists. Just to name some big art names I would go with Vija Celmins, Bharti Kher, Monica Bonvicini, Nicole Wermers, Sylvie Fleury, Kara Walker, Orlan, Mariko Mori… Regarding men I will be forever in love with Joseph Campbell and his work. He was an American writer who dedicated his life to comparative mythology and comparative religion. All of them are talking from our world back to the universe, and this is to me the main purpose to everything.
AT: How important is the role of the social media for you?
SM: I’m not taking it that seriously although I was scared in the past to show my real me. I love to show myself as a very greyish-moody-kinda snobbish person, and probably some parts of me really are like that, but then I interrupt this very serious line with some personal photos showing nipples, trashy fetishes and yeah, sometimes I’m bored to death too and not afraid to show it off. Social media are powerful but I still prefer talking shit and getting drunk with my friends once a month. Real laughter is what I always wanted, and now that I have it I’m not going to let it go away anyhow.
AT: What is your opinion about the NFT’s and their impact on the art world?
SM: Discovering new way to make money doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making an artwork
Talking to the Sky, 2022, AI originated – digital print on Hahnemühle paper d-bonded, 100 x100 cm (each) | Courtesy Galleria Daniele Agostini
AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?
SM: I’m quite young but almost tired of the contemporary art system. Just kidding (probably)! I have to be honest though, the opinion really depends on how much you are appreciated by the art system: the more you are connected to that the more you are induced to have a high consideration of it. Otherwise the earning process would be much more difficult to obtain. There’s a huge difference between artists: poor artists / non-poor artists. They will answer to this question differently.
AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
SM: The most rewarding part as being an artist to me is definitely the idea of the infinite existence: I am and I’ll be everywhere wherever my works are or will be. My genes are going to an end with me, I’m not going to have children so my works could definitely be considered as my will. I’m actually trying to write a book about it: my death and my lifetime anxiety. When it comes to continuing to produce art the most challenging thing about it is acceptance: whenever my values collide with the outside world it is difficult to keep going on. Whether it’s about the money, the ethics, the acknowledgment or the mistakes you could make.
AT: What do you do besides art?
SM: I’m a support teacher for children with disabilities. I also worked with elder people teaching them how to manipulate clay and it meant the world to me.
AT: What are your goals and the expectations for the future?
SM: I have plenty of expectations for the future. Probably too many to be honest. Whether it’s referred to me and my work or to the world in general. I just thought, after many years with the therapists, that I should work harder on just some of the aspects that make me feel the person I am. I can’t really force to change my inner me, it is evolving every time though but in a way you can’t control it. It’s just happening through my everyday experiences and I can only talk about it. So I decided to dedicate my energy to the gym, spending some money on games that make me really happy, laughter, a lot of laughter and reasonable art. I have some ideas for a bunch of videos I want to make, some drawings and paintings I’ve never done nor shown before. Body, boner and a bomb. I just want a sexy future for me and another interview with Artoday.
Guilty Pleasure – Solo Exhibition 2022 | Exhibition View courtesy: Galleria Daniele Agostini
Stefan Milosavljevic was born in Serbia, in 1992. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice in 2016 and subsequently attended the IUAV University, also in Venice. In 2016 he won first prize of Frase Contemporary Art Prize and MAC Under 30 Award: with a solo show at the project room of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lissone as part of the Arteam Cup. In 2017 he won the San Fedele Special Prize in Milan and in the same year he was invited by Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation in Turin to attend the exhibition A house, halfway curated by Lorenzo Balbi. He was also a finalist and winner of the drawing section of the Combat Prize in 2020 and winner of Contemporary Art Museum of Lissone Prize in 2021. His works are present in private Swiss, Italian and Austrian collections as well as in the Carmelo Graci Collection, Frase Contemporary Art Collection, Gerardo Bonetti Collection, De Pietri Artphilein Foundation Collection and Contemporary Art Museum of Lissone Collection. He attended solo and group exhibitions in various galleries and public spaces in Italy, Switzerland and Portugal including The Flat - Massimo Carasi, Milan; Museum of Contemporary Art of Lissone (MI); Galleria Daniele Agostini, Lugano (CH); Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation, Turin; Artemis Gallery, Lisbon (P) ; Casa Testori, Novate Milanese (MI); Galleria Più, Bologna; Galleria San Fedele, Milan; Nam Project, Milan; Choisi - Artphilein Foundation, Lugano; Giovanni Fattori Museum, Livorno; Villa Brandolini, Pieve di Soligo (TV); Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation, Venice. Currently, he is curating a group Exhibition titled Fuc*ing Private at Collezione Graci, including some young artist and established artists as Maurizio Cattellan, Sylvie Fleurie, Jenny Saville, Zoe Leonard and many more.