Theatre of Life / Teatr zycia
curated by Dobrila Denegri
Centre of Contemporary Art / CSW/CoCA , Torun, Poland 2012 / p. 43 , 88-89
the text written by Dobrila Denegri , page 89
Branko Miliskovic studied sculpture and there is a truly sculptural approach in the way he ‘’constructs’’ his performative personas : it is a meticulous process of ‘’building’’ a character and finding ideal proportion between what might be considered its real and transposed identity, or gender. In the piece The Song of a Soldier on Watch ( WW3 Lili Marlene) he seems to incarnate both, the figure of the mythical heroine of the song and the soldier who wrote it. In 1915 Hans Leip, a German poet and playwright who was called to join the army and fight on the Eastern front during World War 1 , wrote lyrics for the song then entitled The Girl under the Lantern which, later on, especially during the Second World War, became extremely popular under the name Lili Marlene . During the Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia in 1941, Radio Belgrade became Soldatensender Belgrad and broadcast programs to entertain the German armed forces.This song was played frequently and was also very popular on both sides of the front line. Lili Marlene was presumably one of the first songs thought of that could lead to an individual and collective resistance of the soldiers on the front. From this point Branko Miliskovic takes his stand on the interpretation of World War 3 Lili Marlene , creating an ambiguous and androgynous character in whose appearance we can find echoes of cabaret as well as performance art of the late 70’s and early 80’s. After Duchamp’s alter-ego, Rrose Selavy, the issue of transvestitism and androgynousness was questioned by a number of artists like Ulay, Urs Luethi, Michel Journiac, and later by artists like Yasumasa Morimura and Cindy Sherman, who gave it another layer of meaning, shifting the frame of references from gender towards the history of art and media culture. In Branko Milskovic’s work , this approach is put in relation with his personal history and traces of his own (traumatic) background , as a young person raised in the conditions of the war in the territory of Former Yugoslavia. So , it is not by chance that the question about identity and cultural conflict emerges beyond the surface. Still, it doesn’t overshadow the fascinating performative aspect of the work. For the ‘Theater of Life’ , Miliskovic gave an enduring performance , singing his version of Lili Marlene with the sound of the gun bursts in the background for about eight hours, engaging himself and the public in a journey that almost reached a state of trance. it’s the intensity and state of personal and collective catharsis that the artist is trying to achieve with his theatrical , but still very direct, performative gestures.