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Goran Marković: Time? What was it?

“Time? What was it?” Time is the essence of every drama. Without its most attractive model – fate, there is no tragedy. Without its most beautiful aspect – speed, there are no gags, the essence of comedy. Drama can also not be imagined without the epoch it is taking place in, it has its duration, also the beginning, middle, and the end. And all this is only time and nothing else. Not only in drama but in our entire surroundings, everything, in fact, centers around time. It is constantly in our minds, whether we like it or admit it or not.

Time is the starting point and final result of all our thoughts, feelings, and apprehensions. Perhaps that is why it is so worthy of dramatic material. Sometimes, the existence of time is so very obvious, but more often it is completely unnoticeable, hidden in the labyrinths of the unconscious. The first snow in November or trousers we cannot get any longer in telling us as pointedly about its inexorable flow as a glance at the watch. Reminders to pay electricity bills or to buy a present for your wife’s birthday, again buying it at the last moment, tell us that time rushes on more convincingly than hundreds of advertisements for another festive New Year’s party. House lobbies of the buildings we spent our childhood in or a love letter we have come across by chance in a dusty book make us sad more than a calendar from the past year.

When speaking about calendars, I wonder whether transience is built in the very essence of this invention? Is it possible to make a calendar whose fate it is not to be thrown into the garbage on January 2nd in order to be replaced with a new one, with pointless photographs showing production sections of the factory that paid for its printing. Is it possible to oppose its very purpose, the reason for its existence? Is it possible to make such a calendar where time does not flow so regularly and inexorably, so cruelly correct, and senselessly pedantic? Does it make sense to try to turn such an obedient soldier, like a wall calendar, against his own general, supreme commander, emperor… time? Does it make any sense at all? Of course, it does. Especially if such a utopian act is an act performed by an artist. Because time loses its absolute power, at least temporarily, in the minds of poets, photographers, pianists or actors, and from a master turns into a servant, tool, means of expression. When it becomes an art creation, the calendar can throw away the chains tying it to the tyrant and take a completely free attitude towards time, ironic, even indifferent. As if saying: “Time? What was it?” Or: “I don’t know which date it is. Is it important?” Or: “I don’t care whether today is today, yesterday or tomorrow.” What would it be used for? To measure time, and something else. Perhaps, to comprehend time? Or to feel what is coming soon.

When I take a look at all the unusual and somewhat strange calendars published by PUBLIKUM in the past ten years, I am astounded at the very anticipation exuded by each of them. It is as if each one, besides nominally marking the time, has more to do with the future to come long after the last date written on it. It seems that all these titles on the calendars: “Mirage ‘999”, “Idiot”, “Danse Balkanique”, “Surrealisme-Optimisme”, “La vie mobile”, “L’Impossible”, “Nemoguce”, predict our impossible, idiotic, surrealistic destiny. Thus all PUBLIKUM’s calendars, besides their practical, have also hidden, poetic purpose. They connect present with the future, they measure but also predict. They are prophetic even when with old photographs they deal with the past. And what connects them all, and makes them attractive at the same time is the irresistible, indestructible spirit of Belgrade. They are the testimony of what makes this town so attractive and different from any other settlement in the world.

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