Landscape Poetic Metaphor

In the collages of Vladimir Milanovic, transparency is a measure of the historicity of images: Different styles converse as emblems of different eras and cultures, different moments and attitudes, different geographies and psychologies. A baroque landscape and a post-industrial wasteland sharing the same horizon and compositional austerity: Is this manipulation of aesthetic layers of meaning simply nostalgic? Does it sublimate a forgone tragedy? Is it just cynical? Is it a romantic manifesto of the European Green Party? Or is it just another homage to punk? All of the above – and much more, I would like to think. What do we see, what does the World Bank project manager understand looking at these landscapes? Some heavy industrial constructions, cars, nuclear plant workers, and hi-tech hardware are superimposed upon idyllic and pastoral backgrounds. At first sight, this paradoxical effect of the collage is too obvious to shock. But what is the paradox here? What is the meaning of the ideal landscape in the early 17th century? To what extent is Poussin’s Roman Road buried in the traffic jam a historical anachronism? Isn’t Poussin’s reference to the past already a comment on civilization and its dialectics of permanent destruction and ephemeral glory? Hasn’t European natural landscape, from hellenistic mosaics of Odyssey landscapes to topographic images of the 18th century, always been a kind of counterpart to the built, ordered, industrial face of the city? Indeed. What is shocking is not the superimposition of the new over the old, but, on the contrary, the cultural continuity implied in these images. This continuity is signified by the image-making technique, first through the format and compositional laws of the traditional landscape kept intact in the digital image, and on a second level, through the photoshoped look of the timeworn archival print.

The landscapes seem to be making a heavy statement: Today, we are not dealing with a different quality of destruction and disrespect of nature, (whatever that nature may be). We are merely operating on a larger scale, with more energy-intensive and systematic methods of intervention and destruction. And while we are rotting, we become more and more eager to be exterminated by a sudden galactic explosion, and reborn with our history record set to zero and a set of powerful, supercharged batteries with endless capacities to rediscover and remember ourselves…

* Lia Yoka, Art Historian, Professor at Aristotle University Of Thessaloniki