In the essay “The World of Wrestling,” Roland Barthes writes about how proficient wrestlers excel at choreographing spontaneous episodes of combat and adapting them to the public perception of great mythological themes. In such a terrain, whether passion is sincere or not is not important as the audience desires the image of passion rather than passion itself, thus paralleling the issue of truth in wrestling to that found in theatre. Building on Barthes’ analysis of wrestling as a spectacle, the exhibition centres on the complex interplay between movement, touch, wrestling, emotions, passion, theatre, and truth, as depicted in the photographs printed on various tactile canvases.

In the arena, movement becomes a symbolic language that transcends the physical, communicating deeper emotional layers and social conflicts. Touch becomes a medium through which subversive passions and intense emotions are conveyed, creating an atmosphere of intimacy and drama within the public space. Like in theatre, wrestling sets the stage where reality and fiction, truth and performance, sensuality and strength intersect, inviting a reconsideration of the boundaries of perception and authenticity. Movements become metaphors for the complexity of human existence, revealing the conflict between the individual and society, internal and external, reality and illusion.

Captured in the basements of the Red Star stadium, in locker rooms covered in graffiti, showers with rusty pipes, and doors full of impact holes, the photographs from the SYNTHESIS project explore corporeality and intimacy, connecting contemporary language with the ancient experience of sensuality and sport. Simultaneously sensual and powerful, these wrestling photographs as performance can also be seen as a journey from documentary observation to a deeper questioning of voyeuristic elements.

In the context of combat, which permeates layers of voyeurism and participation, the voyeuristic aspect reveals the paradox between the private and the public, the hidden and the explicit, the real and the constructed, as well as the complex network of relationships between the photographer or observer and the subjects, highlighting subtle nuances of power, control, and exposure. Viewed through the filter of the lens, the observer becomes an active constructor of dramatic moments, perpetuating and monumentalising their ephemerality into lasting images that transcend them. Through this process, the images become not only documents of passing moments but also artefacts of complex social and emotional dynamics that define the space of intimacy in the public context. The act of photography becomes an indispensable part of a broader narrative about perception, the power of visual representation, and the boundaries of intimacy in the public domain, such as sports arenas or locker rooms, prompting us to reconsider the dominant consumerist attitude towards intimacy.

Non Canonico Gallery
Birčaninova 28
Beograd 11000, Serbia
OPENING HOURS WED – SAT 14.00 – 20.00 by appointment only


Ivana: Tell me more about the process of creating the final works.

Filip: I felt the exhibition had to be tactile due to the nature of this project and the athletic discipline of wrestling. Marko Cerketa, who has been with me on the project from the beginning as art director, took me to textile stores where we found amazing fabrics and scraps from major fashion houses in Italy. We used over 50 different types of materials and fabrics. With the help of Aleksa Vitorović and Milica Vojvoda, and the team from Matrijarsija, we developed the photographs on transparent film rolls. These were then transferred chemically onto fine silks, used as templates for screen printing by hand onto various materials. The process was long and arduous, and I’m truly grateful to everyone involved. We had tons of final outcomes, and the exhibition is a selection of the best versions. Darko Sretić helped me create custom wooden frames on which these fabrics were stretched, creating a hybrid of photography, graphics, canvas, and object. Dragana Krtić designed the booklet, which opens into a poster.

Ivana: What do you personally prefer more, reality or fiction?

Filip: From childhood, I’ve always loved fiction. Growing up in the forests around my home pushed me to dive into imaginary worlds. Later, I found inspiration in reality and documenting things as they are, perhaps finding my version of aesthetics and beauty in things. Currently, I enjoy reality with elements of fiction the most. How about you?

Ivana: Reality—intensified!
Ivana: How do you approach the perspectives or roles and collaboration or dynamics

between you and the performers?

Filip: I think that dynamic is the most important thing. It’s like a dance, sometimes more sensual, sometimes sharper, but it all translates into the photograph. Every micro-dynamic of a person translates into the photo. Then, my mental state at the time influences the selection and editing of the photos. In the modern age, it’s hard to ignore post-processing.

Filip: How do you use movement to convey your artistic message?

Ivana: One of the basic elements in performance is movement. What characterises my work are minimal choreographies and the intense presence of the collective body in static formations.

Filip: Do you believe it is possible to create or build authentic emotions within your mediums, and if so, how do you achieve this?

Ivana: Absolutely, that’s both my goal and my starting point. In performances, I try to reconstruct the emotional, psychological, and mental states induced by the pressures of our time, as well as social, historical, and geopolitical influences, depending on the environment where the work is created. Through performances involving tableaux vivants with many participants, I also address the experiences of the viewers, their emotional and psychological perceptions of the events.

Filip: I agree. I think the closer I get to authentic emotion, the closer I get to the results I want to see. Fashion photography especially carries the burden of artificially constructing narratives, which never interested me much. If they exist, I like to give them a touch of reality and emotion, even if it’s just a static black-and-white portrait. My approach is not to have a particular approach—I like to see how people relax in front of the camera and slowly reveal layers usually hidden from the public.

documented by FILIP KOLUDROVIC in Belgrade 2023
artwork photography DARKO SRETIC
pamphlet design DRAGANA KRTINIC