Ana Lendvaj (HR), Ružica Mikulić (RS) The Capital of Age

Multimedia project, 2013

Vivere est cognitare short art film/video created by: Ružica Mikulić editing: Wane Mikulić year: 2013. actors: Marija Braut, Đulija Dušić, Joško Eterović, Josip Pivac and Željko Senečić verses of Jorge Luisa Borges and Sergei Yesenin spoken by Nino Jaklin “The problem of old age is in a person being young”, said famed French thinker Jean Cocteau. The paradox of the young spirit or mind in a body that is sinking into all its physical minuses is seen in many long-lived persons. The social context, however, pays almost no attention to this fact. In fact, the social context is an inimical place for a man who is aging, and this starts very early on in his life. It started early in history too, which does not recall an age in which the “right to age” was claimed, still less “age as gain”.

Simone de Beauvoir dealt with the topic of age, prompted by the circumstance that she first met the appraisal of herself as being old - without any of the qualities, then, to ensure her further social, creative and other kinds of well-being – in her fiftieth year. This kind of appraisal catches up with most women a lot earlier, and with men, a good deal later. Creative capital of people has to date proved the best guardian against degradation of this kind. In fact it is to art that we owe the existence of what is called the capital of age, the characteristics of which we want to enunciate with this multimedia project the theme of which is the age of selected persons or older persons who have created a capital out of their elderly identity (not merely stated with an emancipated appearance). The project searches for the value of old age precisely where there is repulsion, even disgust, for age.

In the art film Vivere est cognitare, Ružica Mikulić, the auteur, records film and photographic portraits and statements of those who have drawn the maximum out of their life’s trajectory, irrespective of the cards they were dealt to take them through life. She intuitively searches for the salutary individual vertical that evades the cruelties of the current age policy. She searches for the identity that makes its owner happy to be a witness to his own old age. It turns out to be a world that is parallel to that which like Turgenev’s demonises any age above fifty. This parallel world is numerous. And it has its age mechanics in which time is differently allocated, and yet the attitude towards the course of time does not draw on the specious consolation that we are young if we feel ourselves to be young. Simone de Beauvoir drew attention to the phenomenon that wells out of Freud’s unconscious, which does not differentiate the real from the false, because of which older people cannot agree with the estimation of them as old, because they don’t feel old, although others clearly see them as old. It is true that older persons feel their age via the other, not personally experiencing serious changes. But more than 40 years has passed since Simone’s pioneering work La Vieillesse (1970), and many of her generalisations are split into their opposites. This asymmetry between real and false is essentially deepened by the flourishing of reparative techniques, medical preparations that prolong life and beguiling ingenuities that lie to us about our real age. But something in this zone of the false is in fact not false. Young sculptress Hana Lukas Midžić early one noticed the paradox with time that runs differently when it is about the aging of her body or about her sculptural identity that simply has more time, which it gains with time. As sculptress she has time, although “her tits are already sagging a bit”. This she understands, this she records with her art object that warns us that the modern conception of sculpture is expanding the borders of experience not only in the zone of aesthetics. A creative person is saved from the definition of age, about which others decide, if the years of her age do not mean anything. She chooses to be free from the exile that a favourable age group intends her, into which older persons are not counted. And the means of creativity is not necessarily art.

One of the favourable segments in this point of view is fashion, the choice of one’s own image. Does it have years too? Age limits? Some well-regarded persons from the world of fashion sat down to a roundtable to discuss this theme. If they had asked sociologists, philosophers and anthropologists as well, they would not have come out of this meeting with such a small profit as the conclusion that miniskirts after all suit the young and not the old. Even flicking through the magazine will provide more complex answers to the question of whether fashion ages. Ana Lendvaj illustrates the topic with examples that are essays on the way in which fashion comments on the existing capital of age in known, local and foreign oldsters. Hence we talk of power fashion (examples being Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld); fashion as a means of creating (as in the case of Anna Piaggi, who turns fashion into art object); fashion as field for age and sexual surfing and so on. The present density of old faces and persons shows powerfully here the absence of such faces in the media, which Simone de Beauvoir would also confirm to be a kind of geronticide, such as tribal communities carried out with respect to those who they no longer had a use for. Have we reallz gone back to that level? Do we want to say, like Lautreamont: not yet, but after all already.

Ana Lendvaj (HR)

Ana Lendvaj was ABD in Yugoslav studies and comparative literature at the Faculty of Philosphy in Zagreb, and the biotechnology course at the Food and Biotechnology Faculty in Zagreb. From 1979 she was employed in the culture and arts section of Večernji list, where she covered the New Art Practice, and from 1985 the fashion and textile scene (motivation: design as art). She regularly publishes information, criticism and columns about pop culture, particularly about fashion and textile design. She has put on a number of exhibitions and programmes related to design as new art. In the MM Centre, in the context of the programme Fashion Cassette Recorder - Appearance and Style in 1985, she got together designers, anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers and other experts about this theme. She published their addresses in a special number of the journal Republika in 1986. Then came the programmes Fashion Dossier Sentiment in the New Zagreb Culture Centre (with the Slovene art group Irwin and others), and a number of fashion exhibitions in culture centres and urban spaces suitable for conceptual programmes. She has written countless catalogue articles and been curator of many exhibitions related to textile and fashion design. She wrote together with Feđa Vukić and Ivan Rogić the book Zagreb – Modernity and the City. For the publishing firm Altagama she launched a fashion design series called Modus in which in 2008 she published and edited the book of sociologist Žarko Paić Vertigo in Fashion – Towards a Visual Semiotics of the Body, the first Croatian fashionology, i.e. a comprehensive and interdisciplinary study of fashion. She is a member of the ULUPUH study section. She lectures on the topic fashion and media in the doctoral course of the Textile Technology Faculty in Zagreb.

Ružica Mikulić (RS)

Ružica Mikulić graduated from the Architecture Faculty in Sarajevo in 1986. Since 2000 she has lived and worked in Zagreb, where she makes unique interior elements for her own RMdesign brand. She is a member of ULUPUH, LIKUM and the European textile industry network.