YU: The Lost Country
Dragana Jurisic - 25 October to 20 December 2013
This series of photographs are the outcome of Dragana Jurisic's journey around the former Yugoslavia, retracing the route of an extraordinary expedition made by Anglo Irish writer Rebecca West in 1937 written about in the acclaimed book Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941). The final images capture unexpected and often uncanny parallels to West’s text and delve into the artist’s understanding of her own history.
Belfast Exposed presents YU: The Lost Country by Dublin based artist Dragana Jurisic. At the centre of this project lies the extraordinary travel book Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941), written by Anglo Irish writer Rebecca West in 1937, charting her journey through Yugoslavia. The resulting work, initially intended as a snap book, spiralled into half a million words, and became a portrait not just of Yugoslavia, but of Europe on the brink of the Second World War.
West thought of Yugoslavia as her motherland. By its very nature Yugoslavia was a land of displaced peoples and this was a fate that West shared. Born to an Anglo-Irish family, she never felt like she truly belonged anywhere. Dragana Jurisic was born in Yugoslavia and describes her practice as being produced from the position of an exile:
“Now, more than twenty years after the war(s) started, I began to recall and question my own memories of both the place I was born and events personally experienced. I am calling myself an exile, and not an expatriate – because I can't, even if I wanted to - return 'home'. During the 1990 census, I was denied the right to be Yugoslav, the nationality I identified myself with until then. (Being a child of a Croatian father and a Serbian mother, this left me somewhat confused.) The census researcher's answer to why this was impossible, mirrored very closely something that Mussolini said: "Yugoslavia does not exist. It is a heterogeneous conglomerate which you cobbled together in Paris.’ In search of both the lost country and the lost identity, I started retracing West’s journey and re-interpreting her masterpiece by using photography and text in an attempt to re-live my experience of Yugoslavia and to re-examine the conflicting emotions and memories of the country that ‘was’.”
The series of photographs exhibited in Belfast Exposed are the outcome of Jurisic’s committed retracing of West’s journey over a three year period, visiting the exact locations and seeking out similar revelatory narratives. The final images capture unexpected and often uncanny parallels to West’s text and delve into the artist’s understanding of her own history. Displayed alongside the photographs are first edition copies of Black Lamb and Grey Falcon that Jurisic has had re-bound, inserting her own photographs at specific pages relating to the text.
This exhibition is supported by Arts Council Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council. Belfast Exposed would like to gratefully acknowledge Keith Connolly who designed the wall map in Gallery One.
Since receiving a distinction for her MFA (University of Wales, Newport) in 2008, Jurisic was selected as an Axis MAstar in 2009. In 2010, she received the Arts Council of Ireland Travel and Training Award. In 2011, the artist won the Royal Hibernian Academy’s Emerging Photographic Artist Award, Arts Council Ireland Travel and Training Award and Culture Ireland funding, as well as the Graduate Student Prize from The International Rebecca West Society. In 2012, Dragana received funding from Belfast Exposed and the Arts Council Ireland award. She has exhibited internationally and her work is part of the Irish State Art Collection, University of Michigan collection and many private collections. Currently Jurisic is undertaking her PhD research at the European Centre for Photographic Research.
Dragana Jurisic will give a talk about her project on Friday 25 October at 1pm. This event is free but please register with
There will be an opportunity to hear more about the exhibition and handle the display books each Wednesday afternoon during the exhibition at 1pm.