Video installation Us.
Director and producer: Jure Pavlović
Production company: FSŽF Zagreb
Executive production: Sekvenca
Project leader: Nataša Popović
Concept author: Hrvoje Pukšec
Expert advisor: Katarina Juras
Under the auspices of UNHCR Croatia
20 June 2021 at 9pm – Dubovac Old Town, Karlovac (World Refugee Day) in association with the Karlovac City Museum
1-10 July 2021 at the 15th Festival of Tolerance, Bundek Lake
Us, personal pronoun – refers to a group of two or more people that includes the speaker or the writer
The basic assumption of this video installation stems from the fact that the refugee issue in today’s globalised world concerns all of us – because, ultimately, all of ‘us’ can encounter a similar problem, to which testifies our not-so-distant past. Therefore, refugees need to be regarded the way we regard ourselves. The idea is to connect the present moment in Croatia and the world with the long tradition of exile in Croatia, through intimate experiences of different persons who were refugees at a certain point in their lives. From World War II to the Croatian War of Independence, almost every generation in Croatia carries very active memories related to exile.
Those acting from exclusive positions, from the positions of intolerance, always try to portray the problem as ‘none of their business’, as something happening to ‘others’, neglecting the basic principles of humanity leaning on the world where all the people are equal, where people are brothers – even in need.
The video installation Us. is trying to evoke these collective traumas from our own past and connect them with the present moment and the issues of refugees today – the aim is to raise awareness that this is something that can happen to us all.
The director’s intention was to help create intense empathy with the viewer and to place the viewer as much as possible into the refugee position, using limited expressive means (primarily visual). Intimate experiences of all the protagonists in this form are conveyed via impressive animated graphic messages which depict real details from their refugee life. The graphic elements are combined with authentic archive materials on the topic of exile, as well as with newly made materials depicting impressive and overwhelming close-up portraits of refugees made in studios. The archive materials are painstakingly selected and additionally stylised to fit in atmospherically with the new material and the emotionally powerful graphic descriptions of the protagonists. The aim was to create a coherent visual unit that tells an intimate and emotionally shocking tale of life in exile based on authentic human experiences. The director’s concept is based on testimonies of several people representing refugees from different historical periods. The first story evokes the experience of life in exile during World War II in El Shatt camp in Egypt. This testimony is very important as we live in a world with a growing number of Middle Eastern refugees of Arabic origin. It is good to be reminded that refugee surges used to take completely opposite routes. The second story evokes an experience of exile due to the Croatian War of Independence. The third and fourth story evoke experiences of travelling to Croatia: these stories introduce us to people from other countries who have experienced exile, but now live in Croatia and are fully integrated in the society they now belong and actively contribute to.
The project was carried out in collaboration and under the auspices of UNHCR Croatia, using archive materials of Croatian Television and UNHCR.