Serbian Mythology [2005–2016]

Serbian mythology is peculiar and interesting, yet it is completely absent from contemporary mythologizing of Serbian identity. This is a surprising fact, since the mythical, pre-Christian understanding of the world still looms large over everyday life in Serbia. Many customs related to certain objects or phenomena, such as beliefs associated with traditionally important events, have an obvious mythical and non-Orthodox Christian basis. The complex blend of pagan heritage and Christianity, typical for Eastern Europe, was famously defined by Mirca Eliade as cosmic Christianity. Historical and contemporary censorship of this mythic element in the officially propagated version of Serbian spirituality may easily be one of the reasons for the traditionally chaotic state of Serbian society.

The starting point for creating this work, which may be interpreted as reverse ethnography, was the study of utilitarian, scientific photographs and photo-amateur ethno material. The photographed objects and scenes belong to the ordinary, everyday visual experience; it may be said that the commonplace subjects of these photographs have been mythologized by the act of their taking. In this delineating process, they were connoted as equally important as rare ethnographic specimens. In contrast to the picturesque kitsch attraction of the so-called ethno pieces taken by ambitious photo-amateurs, Serbian Mythology is an explicit political message.

Whether it is politics or religion, the mythological mechanism today serves as a function of ideology. Although elements of Serbian mythology permeate these images, the goal is not didactic illustration, but recognition that mythomania and the resulting cultural discontinuity in Serbia are directly related to the ignorance and misunderstanding.  [MV]

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Verzija na srpskom

Mara Prohaska Markovic, “Serbian Mythology”, 2013

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