Annual Winter and Summer Group Shows 2009 - 2012
Contact 2009, 2010, 2011
Mira Zdjelar is an independent photographer born in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, presently living in Paris, France. She has also resided in Toronto, Ottawa, São Paulo, Bucharest and Havana.
After losing her own childhood and youth photographs to the turbulence of the recent war in the Balkans and moving to Canada, she decided to start doing photography herself. Images cannot replace memory; all they can hope to do is capture glimpses of worlds seen and lives lived. The challenge for the photographer is to uncover and share visions of the less obvious, the seemingly invisible.
Mira’s ongoing project Urban Connections shows her fascination with cities and their structures, which appear similar, almost tangibly reminiscent, and different at the same time. Diversity enriches while showing invisible ties that bind cities, people, lives, and bring them closer to each other. Having lived in different countries enables Mira to look for those connections and bring them forward.
Mira’s passion also lies in photographing people, sometimes lost in the landscape, sometimes larger than their surroundings, but always an integral part of the shared human experience.
A Better World… These images, seemingly all depicting the same place, were taken in different countries, even on different continents. What binds them is that they all speak of a desire to escape from the grey and gloomy existence into a better, more colourful life. Sadly, that legitimate desire is often misappropriated and banalized in the form of propaganda and flashy advertizing. Billboards thus come to dominate a variety of cityscapes, regardless of the place or its social system. Sometimes they propagate the idea of a brighter future achievable only through socialist idealism, more often the idea of wealth and the power it supposedly brings as the ultimate goal of (consumerist) existence – I buy, therefore I am.
Reality, on the contrary, is often much more complex than the reductionist spectacle shown on the billboards. Products that symbolize status are advertized where people cannot afford them. And even if they could, the question is whether they really need them. Or is the production of these messages aimed precisely at trying to make us believe we need what we, in fact, do not need at all?
The ads preach the doctrine of greed, teaching us to constantly give up even what we already have for more and newer. Replace the existing car with the new and larger one! Buy a house that is bigger and nicer than your neighbour’s! But how much do we really need to be happy? As a Cuban billboard suggests on one of the photos, a better world may be possible; the question, however, is whether it is probable, even conceivable.
The real dilemma for a photographer is what good it serves to take more pictures in our society that is already suffering from a proliferation of images. On some level, every movement of the shutter actually adds to the sad spectacle of modernity. Nevertheless, every time I hold my breath and click, I always hope that somehow the act of recapturing these images that surround us could be an act of reappropriation, which will uncover at least a little of the ideology embedded in those billboards and in the decrepit façades of our decaying cities.
In spite of everything, I still want to believe that it is important to expose the propaganda machinery for what it is, with all the misery it brings, because every transformation begins with awareness.
2010 A Better World…, Contact Photo Festival, Leonardo Galleries, Toronto, Ontario
2009 Realities Retouched, Contact Photo Festival, Leonardo Galleries, Toronto, Ontario
2006 Paisajes urbanos, Maqueta de la Habana, Havana, Cuba
2006 Ciudades menos obvias, Julio Larramendi Gallery, Havana, Cuba
2006 Conexiones urbanas, XI International Festival of Poetry and VII Fine Arts Salon, Havana, Cuba
2006 Images of Havana, Canadian Official Residence, Havana, Cuba
2005 Conexões urbanas, Suplicy Gallery, São Paulo, Brazil
SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2009 The Annual Summer Group Show, Leonardo Galleries, Toronto, Ontario
CONTACT 2009 , Leonardo Galleries, Toronto, Ontario
2007 Habitat, Centro Hispanoamericano de Cultura, Havana, Cuba
2006 Lo real… es maravilloso, IX International Fine Arts Biennale, Havana, Cuba
2005 Silent Auction, Grand Hyatt, São Paulo, Brazil
2004 Projeto Paulista, Senac, São Paulo, Brazil
2004 Silent Auction, Grand Hyatt, São Paulo, Brazil
2003 3rd Annual Photography Exhibit, Ryerson Gallery, Toronto, Canada
2003 Art Show 2003, Lester B. Pearson Building, Ottawa, Canada
2001 1st Annual Photography Exhibit, Ryerson Gallery, Toronto, Canada
2006 Canadian Embassy grant for Ciudades menos obvias, solo exhibition with more than 60 photographs, Julio Larramendi Gallery, Havana, Cuba
SELECT PUBLICATIONS & CRITICAL REVIEWS
2008 Magazine Sarajevske Sveske, Issue 21-22, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
2007 Magazine Private, Issue 37: Ecological Question, Bologna, Italy
2006 Magazine Mujeres, Issue 287, Havana, Cuba