Darinka Pop - Mitić
1975, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, now Serbia
Useful Idiot, 2016
Useful Idiot, conceived by Darinka Pop-Mitić especially for this exhibition, consists of a wall painting and a number of small photographs. The photographs document several actions which the artist performed in Belgrade a few months before the opening. Her site-specific interventions consisted of painting small frescoes of iconic representations of work and then gluing them on the facades of those Belgrade buildings where the painted activities took place before the sites were privatized and began to serve a different purpose. For example, a fresco depicting sewing was glued on the wall of a former textile factory that later became a luxury office space. Pictorial elements from the fresco paintings form the basic elements of the mural painted in the gallery space.
Besides dealing with the displacement of traditional occupations in the context of transition from industrial to neoliberal societies, with this project Pop-Mitić also reflects upon the position of artists, considering them to be “useful idiots.” A useful idiot is a term used in many languages to describe a person who furthers an agenda without fully realizing its consequences. She adopts this cynical remark but gives it an optimistic twist: even though she is producing objects and meanings, the consequences of which are not (yet) fully known, she hopes her artistic work will somehow prove useful or meaningful to the future of society.