Another and altogether different approach to media critique is manifest in Poslednji dani Deda Mraza (The Last Days of Santa Claus), 2001, an impressive painting by Biljana Đurđević. The corpse of a paunchy middle-aged man is laid out on a wooden table in an old-fashioned morgue, his figure foreshortened and stretching diagonally across the picture plane. His red coat, trimmed with white fur, has fallen open to reveal a grayish undershirt and briefs. He sports fashionable sunglasses, as if transported to his resting place straight from a nearby shopping mall. The young, Belgrade-based Đurđević, one of the few artists in “On Normality” who is widely known outside of Serbia, has invested little empathy in her rendering of this corpse. Rather, Đurđević’s baroque, necrophiliac realism comes across as a scrupulously unflinching, unforgiving, and perhaps even vengeful study in disillusionment. It doesn’t take much of a leap to read this postmortem as a response to a society that counts graphic images of dead bodies among its infotainment staples, sustaining itself through a politics of fear practiced by both ideologues and organized crime bosses.
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