press release

Opening on Tuesday, September 7 at 5pm

Death in Dallas

Oh my gusle, my instrument of old, by modern times you will suffer not, for gusle gentle tunes became our national lore. And now I’ll sing a song, and picture the assassination of Kennedy the president and day when he was killed.

A folkloric Balkan ballad retelling the historical accounts and repercussions surrounding the assassination of US president John F. Kennedy. An unlikely combination of conventions, history, and media, yet this curious medley is what makes up Zoran Naskovski’s intriguing video piece Death in Dallas.

The inspiration for the piece was an unsettling audio recording, bearing the same title, which Naskovski found at a neighbourhood flea market in Serbia. True to the Balkan and Slavic oral tradition, the gusle player, Jozo Karamatic, chronicles in song the news of Kennedy’s death. Recorded over forty years ago at the time of the shooting, the emotive soundtrack recounts the tragic events from the perspective of an outsider, foreign to both the capitalist ideologies and American patriotism. The droning dirge, in the tone of a keening mourner, is set to found video footage documenting the moments leading up to the event, the horrific assassination and the mourning family. In this elegy, which bares witness to a catastrophe that affected the entire world, the images derive from home movies, innocently recorded at the time by Abraham Zapruder, others from the Kennedy family archives, others less recognized, like the rare autopsy footage obtained from a television station in Belgrade, and others, of course, pulled from media newsreels.

While Americans and the world alike are just now starting to step back and examine the immediate implications, as well as, the shift of mind frame provoked by the September 11th attacks, Death in Dallas offers an interesting reflection of an event, often considered equally convulsive, spurring enormous political repercussions and media reaction. By cleverly bringing together images that have made their way around the world and which are profoundly anchored in our collective memory, with a commemorative archive very specific to his own heritage, Naskovski questions the notions of globalization and cultural belonging.

Zoran Naskovski was born in 1960 in Izbiste, Yugoslavia. Presently, he lives and works in Belgrade, Serbia where he completed an MA in Visual Arts. Zoran Naskovski works in different kinds of media and deals with issues relating to contemporary Yugoslavian society, often in relationship to prominent trends in mass culture. He received the October Salon award in 2003, Belgrade Contemporary Art Center’s Annual Exhibition award in 1997 and the Memorial of Nadezda Petrovic award in 1996. Recently, he has exhibited his work widely in the Balkans, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and New York including The American Effect at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Dazibao thanks the artist for his generous collaboration and its members for their support, in particular, Adad Hannah who introduced us to Naskovski’s work. Dazibao receives financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and the Conseil des arts de Montréal. Dazibao is a member of the Regroupement des centres d’artistes autogérés du Québec.

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Zoran Naskovski
Death in Dallas