Bojan Šarčević - Overboard (2019)
For anyone who has ever sailed a motorboat, it is a familiar device. However, because it could not possibly be more out of context than it was here, it took you a moment to realize that there was an outboard motor hanging on a tree trunk. The Serbian artist Bojan Šarčević (b. 1974) hung the Mercury Verado, a new high-power model, at a considerable height, out of reach of visitors and any navigable water. Depriving a tool of its function and presenting it as art – Šarčević is not the first to do this, and the work is reminiscent of the world-famous Fountain (1917), a urinal on a pedestal, by Marcel Duchamp, the creator of the objet trouvé. However, in contrast to the various movements that have claimed Duchamp, Šarčević’s work is impossible to categorize. It encompasses sculptural objects, site-specific architectural interventions, films, photo collages and printed matter, often in various combinations. Although his practice has been shaped by his personal story, the works are never unambiguous but always layered and with multiple interpretations.
Šarčević was born in Belgrade and grew up in North Africa and Sarajevo, which he left when the war broke out, eventually settling in Basel. All of his work contains references to displacement as a result of political instability and war, coupled with a fluid identity and cultural exchange. These themes are expressed in his work in the literal movement of objects from one context to another. For example, he once placed sections of a Gothic church and of a mosque on either side of an exhibition space, and actually took out a corner of an apartment in Amsterdam, subsequently removing a segment of the same size from a Berlin gallery and inserting the Dutch corner instead.
Šarčević often employs the visual idiom of modernism, from Russian constructivism to post-war architectural utopias. These social ideologies have failed, and Šarčević creates new stories with his work, which is located at the intersection of physical and virtual spaces, image and object, the permanent and the temporary.