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 Me in Berlin 


Jovan Balov: Me in Berlin 2000


Martin B. Chidiac

Culture Office, Dresden


The other one disturbs you. When Jahwe asks Abraham to leave his house, go to a distant land, to kill his own son, the other one disturbs you immensely. The Lord's call is provoking  to live one's own existence; so Abraham answers him who speaks and whom he cannot see, whom he doesn't know, of whom he only knows, this is The Other One, the "I am who I am", and while he answers, he calls himself "I" and the other one "Thou". The unknown speaking face is called "you are the god that sees me" (1) by Hagar, Abraham's second wife, and with this  this dialogue's asymmetry is defined.


Man has faced the basic mystery of his miraculous existence in all myths and religions with the image of the other one who has made him, has given a life's example to him, gives guidance to him, disturbs him and makes him aware of his own existence, himself being unknown, invisible, unimaginable. The "Lord's call" is for Jean-Francois Léotard an experience and recognition of the first person or at least, self (2).


States, religions and peoples surround themselves with symbols that portray the myth of their kinship. Roland Barthus describes the myth as naturalization of history (3).This bond means showing which political function the myth has in the respective historical context.


Jovan Balov works on myths and symbols that reached him in his country of birth, Macedonia, from all parts of the Balcans. The symbols used in the past ten years in wars in the area by the states and peoples concerned, were to make clear: "we are different". At a closer look, Jovan Balov discovered that the variety of symbols is limited indeed. Surrounded by buildings, statues and paintings of different German epochs, he went on a tour of discovery into the world of symbols, living in Berlin.


He sees strong and pensive men, idealized women: strong men liberate the nation from history's load, the pensive ones symbolize the cultural nation Germany, images of idealized femininity represent imaginary kinship. As the "Other ones" they promise unity of the nation, beyond the particular interests of the big names in history.

Balov changes the figures he found with his PC and uses the elementary colours red, yellow and blue. Through this abstraction, the symbols surrounding him are being stressed even more.


In the way Jovan Balov uncovers the power symbols of German epochs, and relates them to the present situation in the Balcan, he shows us their limitations.


1 1st Moses 16, 13

2 Jean-Francois Léotard: The Argument, Supplements vol. 6, Munich 1987

3 Roland Barthes: Everyday Myths, Frankfurt/Main 1957