Over the past decade, Vanja Smiljanić has engaged with various New Religious Movements as an artistic research method to explore the complex configuration of identity, nationalism and body politics.
Vanja Smiljanić is a visual and performance artist living and working in Cologne. She concluded the post-master in artistic research at A.pass, Brussels, MFA at Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln and at the Dutch Art Institute, Arnhem, and got a degree in Fine Arts at the Faculdade de Belas Artes de Lisboa.
Vanja Smiljanić’s focus is in interdisciplinary projects and her research lies in cross methods within the fields of visual arts, video and performance. In her practice, she often utilizes the model of performance-lecture as a way to bridge fictitious and experiential universes, comprising technical apparatus, diagrams and sci-fi povera sculptures. Connecting otherwise unparalleled reality systems, Vanja Smiljanić’s work attests the foundation of ideologies as alienated regimes, recurring to her own body as a vessel for narration, often shifting between the position of oracle and storyteller.
Her works have been featured in various exhibitions and festivals such as: Schauspiel Köln; Drodesera Performance Festival; Ufer Studios in Berlin; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea Milano.
HD Video / 29:00 min / 2019
Since 2017 the focus of Vanja Smiljanić’s research has been a UFO spiritual movement called Unarius Academy of Science. It was founded by Ruth and Ernest Norman in 1954 in El Cajon, California. Orion Debacle depicts the group of nine Unariun students in the filming process of a psychodrama. They are collectively regressing to the time of ancient society called Orion.
Orion – prequel to submerged continent of Atlantis – was highly developed techno – theocratic society that existed 19 million years ago. According to Unarius, Orion was also a primal cause of Smiljanić’s current epileptic condition. Recollecting and reenacting memories of these ur-times in the form of a psychodrama, the Unarius students tend to move beyond a mere personal restoration of health. An Epileptic practice of thinking is conceived. The sudden interruptions, crashes and changes of discourse are not treated as problems that need to be cured, but as advices that provide entry into a potentially transpersonal stat. Epileptic thinking crosses wires between vicious positions as sick and healthy, normal and queer, Nature and Culture, to generate new meanings.