Pt. I — Marina Stojkovic and the Art of Connection
The truths of being an artist in a big city, living in a home away from home, and empowering people to live fearlessly
I want to see collaborations within many realms of art where people remove their ego and work together to create a beautiful narrative of human existence.
This article has been long anticipated.
I’m sorry for the delay in producing this—life happened. Now, I’m back on track, ready to sit down and talk until my mouth is like the Sahara Desert.
My first conversation is with my good friend from high school, Marina Stojkovic. She’s an artist, curator, sound goddess and one talented motherfucker. I tried to make these ‘People talk’ conversations as organic as possible on writing (which as you can imagine… incredibly difficult to do without compromising emotion and intonation).
Fuck it. 開始吧！
A lot of my friends are creatives; I definitely was that person that took ‘surround yourself with likeminded individuals’ to heart.
Whether they defined themselves as artists, writers, filmmakers, photographers, musicians, etc. We’ve all be doing more things that one to balance the other—it’s just the way that society’s coaxed us. So, at the rate the art industry is changing, we have to learn how to fucking shapeshift, morph, change colours, or literally be a chameleon (a person with multipotentiality).
You must be consistent with your process and find what makes you comfortable to a point where you can visually describe your experience in a way where your audience can also feel that.
When I met Marina, I immediately wanted to be her friend because of her ability to be unapologetically herself despite all the silly drama that was wrapped around us. As we got older, she became an artist who is capable of drawing emotion from within the depth of her soul to create and curate art that resonates and connects people.
Getting to know Marina
Fashion/style is something you just get. Who’s your fashion icon?
I think the way you dress is an extension of who you are. So, I dress to how I feel—and every day, it can change. I love the brands Erdem, Haider Ackermann, and Ganni. I would say my style icons range from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and the Heroine Chic ladies of the ‘90s.
How did you to get into painting and drawing?
I got into painting and drawing from a very young age. Let’s say I started expressing myself through this form when I was 4 and never stopped. When there is time for me, there is time to tell a story through images in various materials.
Do you have a preferred medium to work on?
Installation art—I can bring every medium I want into installation art. My second, but absolutely relates to installation, is sound art and performance art because the physicality of using your body is very interesting to me. I want to use all the senses to express my work!
The beauty of the studios is that they become your safe space to do whatever you want with your ideas.
What is your favourite thing about your workspace/ studio?
Well, I just left my favourite studio space that I had when I was living in Europe. It was completely isolated from the city of Belgrade and it was right beside the Danube. Every week, I could see hot air balloons rise up to the sky and the sun would set right out my window as I painted away.
The beauty of the studios is that they become your safe space to do whatever you want with your ideas. And having enough room is very important to me especially when I work on installation sketches because I literally curate the whole room to look like a potential installation in a gallery. And then rinse and repeat the whole process.
I can’t wait to get another studio space that speaks just for me. Until then, I work at my families ceramic studio when our hours of operation are closed and it has functioned great for now!
Many artists create their best work while feeling down-in-the-dumps. Does that work for you and how did you feel after?
This is how most of my strongest pieces come about—100 percent. When you feel that there is nothing else hindering you but the emotional truth, you feel the work just comes out of you.
It’s almost like a therapy session within yourself—but to get to that state you must be consistent with your process and find what makes you comfortable to a point where you can visually describe your experience in a way where your audience can also feel that.
It always feels like an end of a beautiful storm where the birds are chirping, the sun is finally out, and you’re a little exhausted—but it’s a calm that is unexplainable. You have given to it; that experience is not private anymore, and now it’s up to the audience to decide where they pinpoint the vision you let out.
From it, came this ultimate realization of how similar our works were, and it made me a stronger storyteller.
Why did you choose Belgrade, other than it being home, to complete your MFA?
My thesis work was on diaspora; understanding the culture and place where I came from. So, naturally, I had to live there for 2 years in order to build a stronger understanding of not only who I am but what other artists from and living in Serbia create. From it, came this ultimate realization of how similar our works were, and it made me a stronger storyteller.
My thesis work was called. “Open the Door so I Exist.”
How did you get into sound and installation work?
I’m a lover of music—I collect records and have daily playlists. When I make art, I’m always listening to music. So, it only made sense to incorporate that into my work so that when someone walks into space they feel themselves in every sense.
I can’t wait for my future sound art projects! I want the viewer to be immersed in the work from every angle, which is why I like to use installation art for my work. I call my process “Archiving of the Heart.” I archive items re-appropriate them to create a big room of stories.
I think I would help people to be fearless about who they love. To be fearless about the bodies they live in. To be fearless about how they move and engage in the world. To be fearless of the skin-to-skin embraces.
Digging for Gold
Where do you think Toronto’s art industry is headed and what would you like to see come from it?
I think Toronto lacks a sense of genuine artist-to-artist support. That being said, I do have a number of mentors who have supported me but I want to be deep in connection with these people and it still sometimes feels like a business conversation.
I want to see collaborations within many realms of art where people remove their ego and work together to create a beautiful narrative of human existence. When you think about it every single art movement was created by a group of artists who started a manifesto that they all equally believed in.
As an artist seeing many others being ripped off another, how do you handle this in your experience?
I had a situation recently where people from the art community brought up intense similarities in my work and another creatives’ work. In fear of this being repeated, I removed that person from all my social media and the work progressively changed.
The beautiful thing about being an artist is that you will always have new ideas and create new work.
When I brought this up to this person, I asked how we can connect—maybe we are subconsciously telling the same story. And I wanted to bring this up as a positive reinforcement to work together. Instead, I was told I was wrong to even ask and this person closed the doors to further brainstorming and also stopped our friendship altogether.
It showed me the truth in many ways. The beautiful thing about being an artist is that you will always have new ideas and create new work. And if you are a true artist, this will never stop. So, to tell my visual story, I have kept moving in a positive way. And the people that truly want to support and truly matter will not have a problem with sharing their ideas in a fair way.
If you could single-handedly influence the world, what would you make that movement about?
This is a hard question to answer. I think I would help people to be fearless about who they love. To be fearless about the bodies they live in. To be fearless about how they move and engage in the world. To be fearless of the skin-to-skin embraces.
If you were a chess piece, which would you be and why?
If I were a chess piece, I’d be a bishop because the chess piece can go diagonally as far as it wants. This is how I see the world; not fearing the diagonals of the way we move through every day.
Can you describe, as poetic as possible, what that first inhale of cigarette feels like?
The shakes of my past day are remembered with the first ash of my tobacco morning.
Describe the colour brown to somebody who is visually impaired.
The smell of earth, the grind of sand, the rough of wood, the soft of wood, the smell of chocolate, the taste of coffee.
You’re a superstar for making it this far. If you liked this and would like to see which other creative I’ll be talking to next, please follow Annie Ngu and this publication—your support means the world to me. Thank you so much for reading my conversation with the one, the only, Marina Stojkovic.