WILL YOU LOVE ME TOMORROW

by Marina Martic

Tonight you’re mine completely

You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
Will you love me tomorrow?

(Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Will you Love me Tomorrow?, 1960)

Stefana Savić begins the description of her project called Polka by a brief biography of her heroine. ‘Polka Nedeljković was born in Guberevac in 1934. She graduated at the Trade Academy in Kragujevac. On March 19, 1956, she committed suicide by jumping under a train. She was three months pregnant.’ This short plotline is in fact the beginning of Stefana’s inquiry about the youngest sister of her grandmother, a girl who killed herself at the age of twenty-two because of unreturned love.

The artist reconstructs the Polka’s life story using all the information she can get. Memories of people who knew her, but also her own memories of the stories she has heard about Polka. Above all, there are photos of the girl she has never met, but whose death, directly or indirectly, marked numerous people close to her during her childhood.

Thanks to these photographs, Stefana manages to identify the locations where Polka lived, as well as objects that belonged to her. From the conversations with her relatives, she manages to learn details from Polka’s life, slowly reconstructing her love story with tragic ending. Every person Stefana has talked to had his own version of events that led to Polka’s death. Some stories are contradicting each other, and many things remain unclear. Memories fade away, they are becoming less reliable; interpretations of events change just like people are changing. In a puzzle, which has emerged from these testimonies, a lot of pieces are missing. Stefana intervenes in this empty space and, reconstructing the life and tragic death of a young woman, writes her own story.

Polka is a project that consists of photographs that are remakes of the original family photos, in which the author herself takes on the title role and a series of shots that look like they originate from a non-existent film, based on stories by Polka’s contemporaries. In this way, Stefana manages to present Polka the way others saw her and as she herself recalls her. In that process, she refers to the experience familiar to almost every one of us – the experience of looking at family photos, listening to stories about family members that we have never met. It is an issue of family legends.

By adopting a more emotional, intimate approach, the author achieves a higher level of identification in the observer, which adds universal appeal to her deeply personal project. Almost every family has a ghost, someone who has gone too early, someone who left only photos, some unanswered questions and a lot of sadness behind. This work reminds us that these ghosts are also part of our identity, that their stories are important and deserve to be told.

Through a meticulous reconstruction of the period, Stefana Savić manages to bring us closer to the time when Polka Nedeljković lived – a time of severe scarcity and high expectations – helping us understand a young woman and her choice. A dramatic story about love and death that sounds like the script of a Hollywood melodrama from the 1950s is developing in front of our eyes. A mixture of emotional, personal and universally familiar has a touch of melancholic nostalgia but, paradoxically, radiates some strange optimism – for a story is not completely told as long as there is someone who still wants to tell it.


Marina Martić

Tonight you’re mine completely
You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
Will you love me tomorrow?

Stefana Savić započinje opis svog projekta Polka sažetom biografijom glavne junakinje: ”Polka Nedeljković rođena je 1934 u Guberevcu. Završila je Trgovačku akademiju u Kragujevcu. Devetnaestog marta 1956, u trećem mesecu trudnoće, izvršila je samoubistvo bacivši se pod voz.” Ovaj kratki siže zapravo je početak  autorkine potrage za najmlađom sestrom svoje bake, devojkom koja se u dvadesetdrugoj godini života ubila zbog nesrećne ljubavi.

Umetnica rekonstruiše priču Polkinog života koristeći sve informacije do kojih može da dođe. Sećanja ljudi koji su je poznavali, sopstvena sećanja na priče koje je slušala, ali pre svega na fotografije devojke koju nikada nije upoznala a čija je smrt, neposredno ili posredno, obeležila neke od njioj najbližih ljudi koji su je okruživali u detinjstvu. Zahvaljujući tim fotografijama uspeva da pronađe mesta na kojima je Polka živela, predmete koji su joj pripadali. Iz razgovara sa rođacima uspeva da sazna detalje iz njenog života, polako rekonstruišući ljubavnu priču sa nesrećnim krajem. Svaki Stefanin sagovornik ima sopstvenu verziju događaja koji su doveli do Polkine smrti, neke priče su kontradiktorne, mnogo toga je ostalo nerazjašnjeno. Sećanja blede, postaju sve nepouzdanija, interpretacije događaja se menjaju kao što se menjaju i ljudi.     Na mozaiku  koji je nastajao od ovih svedočenja nedostaje puno kockica. Ona interveniše u tom praznom prostoru i ispisuje svoju priču, rekonstrišući život i tragičnu smrt mlade žene.

Projekat Polka sastoji se od fotografija koje su remake originalnih porodičnih fotografija na kojima sama autorka preuzima naslovnu ulogu i serije snimaka koje izgledaju kao scene iz filma, koncipiranih na osnovu priča Polkinih savremenika. Na ovaj način ona uspeva da nam predstavi Polku onako kako su je videli drugi, onako kako je i sama pamti, pritom se pozivajući na iskustvo gotovo svakoga od nas, iskustvo gledanja porodičnih fotografija, slušanja priča o članovima porodice koje nikada nismo upoznali, porodičnih legendi, odabravši emocionalniji, intimniji pristup kojim postiže veći stepen identifikacije posmatrača, i svom, duboko ličnom projektu, daje univerzalnost. Gotovo svaka porodica ima nekog porodičnog duha, nekoga ko je otišao prerano, nekoga iza koga su ostale samo fotografije, neka neodgovorena pitanja i puno tuge. Ovaj rad nas podseća da su i oni deo našeg identiteta, da su njihove priče važne i zaslužuju da budu ispričane.

Stefana Savić uspeva, kroz pažljivu rekonstrukciju epohe, da nam približi vreme u kojem je živela Polka Nedeljković, period teške oskudice i velikih očekivanja, da nam pomogne da razumemo mladu ženu i njen izbor. Pred našim očima razvija se dramatična priča o ljubavi i smrti koja zvuči kao scenario neke holivudske melodrame sa polovine prošlog veka; amalgam emotivnog, ličnog i univerzalno prepoznatljivog ima notu melanholične nostalgije ali, paradoksalno, odiše nekim čudnim optimizmom, jer priča nije ispričana do kraja, sve dok postoji neko ko želi da je priča.

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