Video installation / two films, 45’35” each

Mira, Study for a Portrait is a work on absence, which uses the form of the portrait to explore the fragility of memory as well as the relationship between the photographic medium and perception. It is a long-term and multi-layered project which comprises a video installation, a set of photographs, and a book. Although the first part of the work focuses on historical time with its objective duration, based on well-known historical events, these are refracted through a personal history that is put in the foreground.

‘Similar to the quest for identity in the novel Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald, the video installation MIRA, Study for a Portrait (2010–14) by Jelena Juresa explores the quest for individual identity and the battle against amnesia among the shreds of memory. Juresa’s work is informed by the practices of the artist as a historian and the archival artist. She embarks on a quest that attempts to re-create and reconstruct a historical narrative of one very unique individual, and relatively anonymous human life, giving it a voice and unveiling series of events and circumstances that are linked around it. In this way, MIRA, Study for a Portrait illustrates the intimate exploration of the boundaries of memory. “It is the story of one woman, one family, one country, and three wars” – as the artist explains . . . The central part, structured as a large-scale installation, invites the observer to dive in and follow the fate of this anonymous woman. Guided by the impulsive research of archives and stories, unique poetics and the sensibility of the artist, haunting and delicate, the work reflects both a human life and a century, “a single individual’s life and a collective historical period – the backbone of this age is shattered”. It is almost as if the entire fragmented century, historical events as pieces of its official historiography, were reflected in a series of small, individual, private, and invisible historic moments that are hidden and forgotten along the margins of existence. The cracks and fractures reflect differences in the relationships and the concept of time – the lifetime of the individual, and time as a time in history in general. It is between two conceptions of time – historical and subjective time, private and public – that lies the time of the work.’

by Branka Bencic

Kunstlerhaus – Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz, Austria, installation view
Curated by Christian Egger
Photo: Courtesy of Kunstlerhaus KM

Gallery 90-60-90 (Pogon), Zagreb, installation view
Curated by Branka Bencic, Production: Marijana Stanic
Photographs: Jasenko Rasol

‘Thoughtfully and with a lot of care, Jureša brings together intimate and historical parameters of living with names. If names act as containers for what is left behind, they are also flexible containers, deeply held, withheld. The multiple meanings of Mira’s own name emphasize an openness of both perception and interpretation. A golden field, wind blowing through it. A lush waterfall. A family photograph. A soap opera. Mira (one etymology or another,) and photographs of the ocean. Columbus’s ocean: a vast signifier, pre-colonization, pregnant with possibility. Mira’s ocean: strange, rebellious.’

Ocean, Marvel, Strange, Rebellious
by Asa Mendelsohn

Direction, photography, editing: Jelena Juresa
Narration: Tim Kerslake
Sound: Studio Alpha, Vladimir Perovic
16mm film scene / Performer: Maria Keck
16mm film scene / Camera: Nikola Sekeric
16mm film scene / Light: Zarko Lazic
Music: “Sto te nema”, Jadranka Stojakovic with Miroslav Tadic, courtesy of Jadranka Stojakovic
Video excerpts: from the movie La violetera, 1958, Luis César Amadori