I forbid your soldiers to enter my vineyard
Živana Stevanović Mladenović, housewife, my paternal grandmother
My father’s mother, Živana, was left alone in 1941 with her two underage children, Stanojka and Jovan, on the family estate in Udovice and Jugovo near Smederevo. During the war, all the armies partaking in the war passed through the village at some point: Germans, Serbian royalists, partisans, Ljotić’s followers, Russians. Živana and other villagers were regularly forced to prepare and give out food and drinks to all the passing soldiers.
According to family folklore, Živana angrily uttered the sentence from the title in front of her children to a German officer when she saw his (subordinate) soldier emerge from the convoy, run into her vineyard and pluck some grapes without asking. The German officer had the soldier punished.
Milorad Mladenović, shopkeeper, my paternal grandfather
As a pre-war royal guard in Belgrade, Milorad started to defend the city with the army, along with his friend the captain, shortly after the bombing of 6th April 1941. The occupying German army captured him somewhere in the vicinity of Boleč and deported him to the German labour camp Stalag XI A in the village of Altengrabow, 90km southwest of Berlin. Owing to his experience in agriculture, he was reassigned from the labour camp to a landlord on whose property, as a servant, he stayed until the end of the war. With twenty other Serbian peasants he served the landlord who sometimes, as a reward, allowed them to celebrate their Slava (Patron Saint’s Day) with meat and wine. Milorad returned to Serbia at the end of 1945. He never observed fasts again, believing that he had paid off his debt to God and to the Church through his captivity.
Živana and Milorad
Živana spent five excruciating war years taking care of my father and aunt without her husband Milorad. When my father was 9 years old, he was wounded in the lower leg by a German ammunition blast at the Smederevo fortress in June 1941 while sitting with friends in a vineyard on the Danube, three kilometers away. When I was a child, he used to show me his scars.
Milorad returned from Germany some time after the war had finished. Živana deeply believed, and sometimes told my parents, that a photograph that she had found in Milorad’s possession of a beautiful and rich German lady with a baby in her arms was of Milorad’s child with the landlord’s wife. Živana claimed that my father’s brother, and my uncle, half Serbian and half German, lived in Hamburg.
I never fully believed the story and I never gathered courage to ask my father while he was still alive.
Milorad Mladenović, after the German labour camp
After the German occupation, grandpa left all his worries behind him. He engaged in trade in the Dunav enterprise and cultivated the vineyard as long as he was not annoyed with the work. He celebrated life, went hunting and played foodball, drank wine and indulged in extramarital affairs.
Due to a gambling debt he sold the vineyard on the Danube while my father was serving in the Navy on the Brijuni Islands in Croatia in 1954. My father never forgave him.
I, the artist
I want to speak about Živana, my grandfather’s wife and my father’s mother.
I want to speak about her life during grandfather’s captivity. After his return, she struggled with his new bohemian lifestyle, but she loved him until the day she died. I want to speak about her life in the vineyard.
It has been lying heavy with me, and still lies heavy today, the thought of having an uncle in Germany, maybe a brother too, some people who are maybe important to me with whom Živana had nothing to do.
I was named Milorad, after my grandfather.
I forbid your soldiers to enter my vineyard
( pictures of memory )
2 acrylic paintings 180×120 cm, 12 photos: each 32 x 24 cm
1. 180 x 120 cm acrylic painting shows a German woman with a baby in a cradle. The picture represents my attempt to reconstruct the memory of the picture my grandmother showed me when I was a kid. The woman looks in the direction of the observer of the picture, and baby looks at the mother.
2. 180 x 120 cm acrylic painting shows a family vineyard on the Danube, where, in winter, my grandmother Zivana stands with my father Jovan and my aunt Stanojka at a time when Grandpa Milorad was in a labor camp in Germany during the Second world war. The picture shows the Danube River, which in many historical periods is the border between German and Serbian authorities. The truncated family looks toward the river, northwards, in the direction of Germany.
3. In 12 photographs, each 32 x 24 cm in size, performed by morphing women’s faces in Photoshop, i present my search and exploration of the character and identity of a woman, a German woman, from my grandmother’s memory. Photos are presentation of search process for my work – I forbid your soldiers to enter my vineyard.
Dr. Prof. Milorad Mladenović (1966, Belgrade)
He studied painting in the class of prof. Marija Dragojlovic at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade 1991/1992, graduated in the class of prof. Momcilo Antonovic 1994. He graduated from the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade with his mentor prof. Milan Lojanica 1996. He graduated Master’s degree at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade under the mentorship of Cedomir Vasic in 1999. He defended his doctoral project Direct Contexts – Multimedia Spatial Setting at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Arts in Belgrade under the mentorship of prof. Mileta Prodanović, PhD 2018.
He started his professional activity with the works in the gallery SKC in Belgrade 1994/1996. Afterwards, he participated in a number of exhibitions and workshops in the field of visual arts and architecture. He has been selected three times in the selection of the exhibition Critics have selected in the Belgrade Cultural Center in 1997, 1998 and 2002. He has received three awards for his work at the October Salon exhibitions in Belgrade: 2000, 2003 and 2014. He has won the Painting Award from the Petar Lubarda Fund 1991, Prizes of the Second Yugoslav Youth Biennial of Fine Arts in Vrsac 1996, Main Prizes of the Nadežda Petrović Memorial in Čačak 2000, First Prizes – XXII Spring Annals Medals in Čačak 2018 and numerous other awards and recognitions, as well as numerous awards in fine arts and architectural – urban competitions.
His most significant exhibitions are at Bikinihaus in Berlin 2003, at Vienna Secession 2004, at MSU in Belgrade 2005 and 2012, at the 10th Venice Architecture Biennale 2006, at the MSU Salon in Belgrade 2011, and at the Belgrade Cultural Center 2016.
He has realized about 25 solo and more than 120 group national and international exhibitions in the field of fine arts and architecture. He is the author of several works, projects and realized architectural objects and interiors.
He is a member of ULUS, SAS and DAB. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Union of Architects of Serbia from 2006 to 2011. He holds the position of Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Architecture Forum 2007 and 2008. For this work, he has received the Acknowledgments in the Publications category of the 30th Belgrade Salon of Architecture 2008. He is the editor of the fifth issue of the Serbian Architecture Journal (SAJ) for 2013. He has published a large number of papers magazines and publications.
He is one of the founders of the Third Belgrade Art Association and Vice President of the Association’s Board since 2010, with whom he has exhibited at the MSUB Salon 2011, at the Independent Art Fair Supermarket in Stockholm and at the Pyramid Sanat in Istanbul in 2012. He leaves Association in 2012. He is member of the Space Association since 2011.
He is working as a professor at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Belgrade as of 1995/1996.