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Mira, Study for a Portrait

Jelena Juresa
Artists' Books
Monograph, Photography

MIRA, Study for a Portrait is a work on absence which uses the form of the portrait to explore the fragility of memory as well as the relationship between the photographic medium and perception. It is a long-term and multi-layered project in which the artist meticulously dealt with the history of one country, one family and one woman. It comprises a video installation, set of photographs and 12 lithographs.

Through the video installation (two videos, 40 min each) the viewer is given a new way to read the photographic and moving image, encrypting the place as a medium for recording and erasing new meanings. Although the first part of the work is historical time with its objective duration, based on well-known historical events, these are refracted through a personal history which Juresa puts in the foreground.

The video installation traces the life of Mira and her family from the period before her birth until her tragic death. Photographs mark the places that correspond with the narrative composed of the memories of some of the characters portrayed. Through photographs and video recordings, the first part of the film revives the family history of Mira’s parents, David and Minka. David’s Jewish and Minka’s Muslim origins, pre-World War II Bosnia, the travails of David’s family, Minka’s and David’s joining the Partisans, their acquaintance, their separation, Minka’s nearly fatal wounding and their years together until Mira’s birth.

In the reconstruction of Mira’s portrait, only a few archive photographs were used. This specific narrative in combination with Juresa’s photographs, traces the life of Mira aesthetically carefully and subtly: her childhood, life in Belgrade, in Sarajevo, the birth of her children, marriage, divorce, her work in an old people’s home, up to her tragic death in 1990, when she died in a car accident near Pakrac, where riots soon broke out heralding the beginning of war in Croatia and the fragmentation of former Yugoslavia.

  1. Mira, Study for a Portrait

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