The sense of belonging manifests itself in situations when we are displaced from a safe zone, forced to create new connections between a place and identity, between different cultures and an unknown language. Even though migration may not be caused by external extremes, as is the case currently with many emigrants from Ukraine, it almost always features the challenges of coping – from existential, to communication, to emotional – leaving no time to reflect on one’s own reactions.
With the works exhibited in Apoteka, Sabina Mikelić continues to explore the place she belongs, starting from her own experience of a voluntary, but still not easy, relocation to The Netherlands. In association with therapist and writer Aida Bagić, she enters an introspective process of emotional questioning of the notions binding her to ‘her’ places. Leaving the known, through associations, Sabina develops a narrative in which cows delineate her relationship and coming to terms with her new residence in The Netherlands. Feeling of belonging to the island of Rab evolve through a description of an olive tree, its roots intertwined with the roots of other olive trees. In this video as well, the narration is accompanied by a static frame allowing us to immerse ourselves in associations of our own belonging. However, the key to the relation between the olive tree and the cows, Friesland and Rab, is precisely the In-Between, a place of transition that opens up a space for reconsideration, transition from anxiety of not belonging into returning, a feeling of the benefit of having two mothers.
In the installation Sabina unites the voices of separate narratives. The native plants from Rab which she collected with her mother are now printed onto typical Dutch cheese cloth, adding them a booklet of her mother’s descriptions. The descriptions, translated into Dutch and English by Google Translate from a Croatian dialect, point to the inability of an ideal translation, a downside to seeking words in languages which are not our mother tongues. Taking time for a creative process of thinking about her feelings in which she uses natural elements to reconcile cultural differences, Sabina turns her former lost-in-translation feeling into an advantage of embracing the other, the different, the imperfect, but nevertheless her own identity.
Text by: Marta Kiš
Sabina Mikelic is a Croatian visual artist, filmmaker, and artist-educator based in The Netherlands. In her art practice, she uses multimedia installations, documentary filmmaking, and socially engaged projects while dealing with themes such as identity, belonging, social interaction, vulnerability, and intimacy, where she, through a small, personal scope often touches the edges of bigger socio-political themes. She started exhibiting in 2009 and by now had many national and international exhibitions and film screenings. She won multiple prizes and scholarships and her works are part of international collections. She graduated from MA in Artistic Research in and through Cinema at Nederlandse Filmacademie and from MA in New Media at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.
Apoteka is supported by:
Ministry of Culture and Media of Republic of Croatia, City of Vodnjan, Region of Istria, Tourist Board of Vodnjan, Medea wine.