SLOBODA(N) THINKS! / Kosta Đuraković

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There are too many lockers. Everyone leaves their bags and jackets. It’s hard for people to carry them while walking through the seemingly sterile, white corridors. In fact, even the air isn’t clean, as if there’s something in it that compels you to spend, to stay, to consume more, to walk without thinking, to lose until all your limbs ache… so that when you get home, you throw everything on the floor, maybe light a cigarette, take a deep breath, and probably turn on the TV. There’s something in that air, the human adversary that is on the side of shopping centers. Sometimes, very rarely, I fall into that way of existence myself, but this time I held on quite high. Although I could never afford to go that far. Ušće (*local shopping mall) should be a beautiful place, a whirlpool of two energies, integration. In reality, it stinks, and that makes me sad in a hopeless way. I was at Ušće to buy swimming goggles, went to the lockers – politely joined a group of functional citizens of the 21st century, took a key and went to the restroom. One free cabin. Great. Fuck, the cabin smelled like shit. I went in, using the restroom is an intimate thing for me. The seat was up, and there were traces of feces on the walls of the toilet. Of course, I enthusiastically was pissing over the feces someone hadn’t cleaned up, believing I was doing a good deed by taking it off. Someone will have less dirty work to do. I remembered the husband of my high school drawing teacher; he also does this humane deed, and with his urination, he encouraged me to express myself and share this experience. It’s one of those things we all do but don’t talk about, like eating toilet paper, discreetly picking our nose in public, wiping our snot on our sweatshirt, or feeling lonely while laughing a lot…

PHOTO: Kosta Djuraković, EPHEMERAL collection

People laugh the most when they’re young, when they are carefree and have very little experience. Growing up can distort the happiness line on our faces. Grantedly, growing up is not necessarily evil, but it also doesn’t have the taste of velvety crème brûlée. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, who your parents are, or how much money you have… In capitalism, we simmer slowly until we decompose. At least here, in a place without capital because when there’s no capital, there’s no democracy. Growing up in such an environment certainly doesn’t have a golden crust of crispy caramel. Growing up would be a known variable in the equation of Freedom, in which two unknowns also participate.

As I got older, I found it most challenging to accept the fact that I had to pee, to really urinate on myself to get rid of the shit that others hadn’t cleaned up after themselves. Shit of the wrong power; wrong insights and life achievements; the ruling majority; a big human brain game and the imposition of the universally accepted concept of “good and bad” that permeates almost all systems; standards of beauty; outdated, illiterate, and incomplete education – lack of manners and culture; consumerist perception; blind belief in genetic outcomes; family heritage (shit known to the people as childhood traumas, it’s very difficult for individuals in our area to accept this fact that we are all traumatized from our earliest days exposed to various parasitic influences: unhealthy food, exposure to numerous technological advancements: sounds, images, lights, various touches, overcrowding… as well as many forms of inexperienced and primarily uninformed parental behavior. The worst of all is one thing that probably is the most common today – children are developing immunity on rice milk powder because mothers are more concerned about keeping their breasts firm).

PHOTO: Kosta Djuraković, EPHEMERAL collection

During puberty, I was intensely focused on solving the problems that arose, although all the solutions were temporary. With the arrival of new issues, I became aware that I was dragging the tails of the previous ones, which I had been sure I had resolved at the time. Only recently, about two years ago, I realized that disasters have to be solved at the very source, not at their ultimate point – the consequence. That’s when a cleaning of the legacy of growing up began, pissing over the scorched whiteness. When one understands growing up and becomes conscious of its existence in all its forms, when the eyes are opened, we come to unlock the first unknown – identity. The relationship with one’s own identity began the day we were given a name and officially continues until the day that’s on everyone’s minds almost in every moment. As we grow up, we attach ourselves to it and the energy it carries. The concept of identity, in its essence, is something many people never truly grasp, but if they do, it is usually after a period of growing up and selective “cleansing.” That’s when we discover new parts of ourselves that need to be nurtured and allowed to be.

Awareness of personal identity comes hand in hand with relinquishments and frequent compromises. By that I’m not referring to painful relinquishments but rather a natural process of letting go. Here’s a simple example: during the first year of college, a student was often hanging out with his high school friends. After a certain amount of time spent in college, enriched by various experiences, the student began to attract new individuals. Each subsequent meeting with the high school friends provided less satisfaction while simultaneously expanding the boundary of insecurity. At one point, out of the entire high school group, the student could share his present with, at best, one or two people from high school.

My mom used to tell me that I was an irresponsible friend because I often changed social circles. I remember those situations so well, so well that I can almost taste them, where I couldn’t wait to see friends I didn’t see for a while (mostly due to mutual obligations), and then, in the middle of someone’s speech, I’d find myself not hearing, not reaching what they’re talking about. I would start not seeing. I’d continue to smile, but my gaze went far beyond them. Through faces and walls… quite far, into infinity. I felt, maybe that sounds foolish, but slightly disappointed because I was usually good at communication, but in that moment my brain couldn’t produce a single reaction, couldn’t follow up with a question, couldn’t show interest. It’s simple – their words doesn’t touch you. We don’t find joy in the same things, we don’t laugh at the same things, we don’t worry about the same things… Then the compromises are coming, conscious elements that can be our best friends or worst enemies. It took me time to learn to see and read again, and in such situations, to get up and leave. You shouldn’t force yourself, waste your own and others’ energy. Someone might say it’s selfish and hypocritical, and it probably is. I believe I can be a good friend, again, it depends on how we view reality. I’m not a fan of bear services. The compromises I consciously made in one way led me to eternal loneliness. Loneliness might seem cold at first glance, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Warmth comes later, when solitude is understood. There are many benefits. We feel ourselves and laugh a lot.

PHOTO: Kosta Djuraković, EPHEMERAL collection

I’m still at Ušće, I’ve decided which glasses I need. It increasingly seems to me that there’s an air walking alongside me. In addition to its distorted existence, there are also citizens, individuals and couples, families, and those mothers. It’s absurd that the majority of people struggle with money, but on the contrary, shopping centers are full. Cafés are always crowded, salaries are insufficient, unemployment is high, and the initiative that young people often show is related to crazier outings, expensive phones, more makeup, clothes, cars, handbags, shoes… material things, material things, material things. The identity of most Belgrade residents (I can’t speak for other cities in Serbia because I’m from Belgrade, but I believe it’s the same everywhere, with variations in intensity) is based on material abundance that essentially doesn’t exist. There’s no big capital, no jobs, no money, the people are dissatisfied, quite sad, and very aggressive. Aggressive in the complexity of their own inability. This is evidenced by the distorted standard of values. The less capital there is, the more collective unconscious tries to show how much we have. What do we have? Material thing that isn’t in the service of the spirit is just the discarded husk of a snake. Material thing that isn’t in the service of the spirit governs those functional citizens, clouds the consumerist view in the distance, and closes the senses. Material thing that isn’t in the service of the spirit paints the walls blue and doesn’t allow you to lift your gaze. In fact, without spirit, all we have is an illusion, not an insight into reality. With material things that aren’t in the service of the spirit, no one has achieved freedom. No one has bitten into the crust of the golden caramel. To recognize the spirit within one’s own being, raw honesty and letting go are necessary. Identity.

PHOTO: Kosta Djuraković, EPHEMERAL collection

The choice is ours, and we cannot blame the world, humanity, Serbia… It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, who your parents are, or how much money you have; the responsibility lies with the individual. Will you flush after using the toilet or wait for someone else to do it for you? Will we try to appropriate everything that isn’t ours, or will we experience life, here and now, through our own identity, in harmony with the truth?

After finishing my shopping, I joined the crisp winter air, enjoying the open space. And the wind.

The relationships between growing up, identity and decisions represent freedom to me. The freedom of not being the functional citizens who tick off a checklist and conform to a norm. I see a free man as a bird flying toward the Sun, into warmth, leaving no trace behind. You can’t follow him, only feel him. He flys alone, along the path of light, with awareness of his flock.

Kosta Djuraković / Belgrade

Visual artist who, through growing up and maturing, explores various media and research formats.

As a conscious being, he constantly asks questions and tests answers, and considers this inner process his greatest inspiration.

All images and materials are copyright protected and are the property of Mr. Kosta Đuraković and

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