The Fantastic Future of a Pool

author Lana Stojićević
written by Irena Borić


If we give in to the story of a Yugoslav space mission told by Lana Stojićević within her Sunny Side project, we will notice that we are already familiar with her visual codes, although slightly changed. We will recognise a round aircraft, i.e. a space station, represented by a modern domed swimming pool. The uniform of a space station member is rather conspicuous – reduced to tall red boots and a tight red and blue dress with a prominent mission logo. The centre of the logotype has an embroidered pool that has just taken off, surrounded by the signs Sunny Side and Come and See the Truth. The transparent helmet with a funny transmitter appears as a functionless prop and its purpose is not quite clear; whether it administers oxygen, allows communication, etc. The unconvincing atmosphere is emphasised by a blue flowery swimming cap, worn by the protagonist under the helmet, raising the question of whether we are watching a swimmer, an astronaut, or a model. As it could have been assumed, the final centre of the mission is the Red Planet, which is visually supported by a red background.
The (re)cognition of the mentioned visual codes is not based on the elements of a particular space programme, but on the sci-fi imagery of the 1960s popular culture. Although the ideas of the fantastic achievements of the technology can be traced back to the late 19th century, in the books by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, such perception of the future was encouraged in the 1960s by the first Star Trek series (1966-1969) and the Barbarella film (1968). By relying on such imagery, Lana Stojićević also assumes the awkwardness of its technical limitations, which leaves the shortcomings of representation to be filled with the imagination of observers. Documentation of the Sunny Side mission includes a series of framed photographs reminiscent of a film narrative. The artist uses the framing technique to remove all contemporary elements, simultaneously, leaving many illusions visible. The photograph showing the flight to space also reveals a hand that lifts it, while the background blue canvas allows the addition of the space background. The artist is not too interested in the perfect simulation of the never-existing space programme, although the current technology would allow it. Her focus is retro-futuristic – she is interested in the collective imagination of the sci-fi future that belongs to the past. In the words of American anthropologist and anarchist David Graeber: our science fiction future is, most often, not a future at all, but more like an alternative dimension, a dream-time, a technological Elsewhere, existing in days to come in the same sense that elves and dragon-slayers existed in the past—another screen for the displacement of moral dramas and mythic fantasies into the dead ends of consumer pleasure. David Graeber (2012) Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit