One of a series of special features during the month of March to draw attention to the crowd funding/pre order Indiegogo campaign for J.T. Dockery’s Despair Vol. 2. Click HERE for more info on how to order/contribute.
Guest Artist Spotlight. One of Five: DUNJA JANKOVIC
Croat islander by birth, sometimes Portlander by virtue of sojourns of expatriotism, Jankovic and her visions, whether stand alone or narrative or projects such as The Projects, are Cosmic International. However, binary distinction of stand alone vs. narrative are not instructive when approaching Dunja’s work. Everything fits, or doesn’t fit, according to the message, but the expression flows to fit, always.
Her work is expansive in the particulars, and her sensibility seems predisposed to specifics always echoing the context surrounding the frame. Which is a natural by product of any art form, ideally if not usually. It’s just, like a fact of cheese dip on a snack cracker, that Jankovic is really good at it.
In regards to her work “in comics,” whether hand made for the digital age, or digital for the hand made revival, from the the more inky dystopia of Department of Art/Habitat to the collage comics/experience of Circles Cycles Circuits, are about the now to extent of reaching for always, or maybe looking for tomorrow at the intersection of yesterday disappearing. Some artists seem born to be so personal she or he speaks in universal tongue.
If one agrees that Dunja’s work is largely about the many forms connection/communication take, and then following that despair as well as Despair is often due to the failure of connection/communication, then her six page narrative, which I’ve decided, as if “I,” had anything to do with it, works in volume 2 as an “overture” to the book; it is the first story, and precedes the the center of the book which my work resides.
Overture is the operative word here. I do not wish to linger or instruct upon how to read and/or to summarize her narrative; this is a spotlight on an artist and a preview of upcoming work, not a review, after all. But rather than word balloons and figures moving in a linear landscape, in her contribution the text/image juxtaposition invokes SOUND. And I will look into this aspect a bit here.
She directly instructs in the minimalist poetics of her text that appears at the heading of each page, text which might remind the viewer of the kind of instructional jargon in a manual for on old hi fi record player or a caption in a reference book, the language interacting with the forms. This element invites us into the the shape/shapes of “despair,” which is also the sound of it. As the text to the third page, pictured above right, states: “computer monitor buzzing: dungeon door soundeffect.”
To say this work is “abstract,” which too often denotes a certain obliqueness in modern parlance, I reject in favor of the true definition of the term that implies shaping reality into a form that delivers the message in its most essential/simple form, not, as is often the case, abstract equating with obscuring the message. What Jankovic delivers is the sound/image of a state of being.
I am as pleased as punch with the result, and I can only hope readers, perhaps without even consciously thinking about it, as I for that matter didn’t think about it too much before I sat down to carve out this language you’re reading now, will rather FEEL the connection of how Jankovic’s meditation on the titular subject matter moves us, as readers/viewers into the movements of the remainder of volume 2 of Despair. Overture, indeed.
To put it country simple, Dunja Jankovic is one of my favorite contemporary artists of any genre, or any mash up of genres, for that matter. She is a voyager of expression, like interstellar probe as artist, who knows the secret that any travel to out is travel within. Her work “in comics” is not a limit but an expansion of form; her explorations simply BECOME comics. Okay, maybe that isn’t so country simple. But simple is never simple just at it always is. Simple, that is. These kinds of break downs put back together again are the sort of process the current of Jankovic’s imagery navigates. To listen is to see this in the interface of her word/image.