Robert Adanto’s New Documentary About Marta Jovanović, "Born Just Now"

This past February world renowned filmmaker, Robert Adanto began shooting a new documentary in Belgrade, Serbia. Born Just Now will look at the life and art of Marta Jovanović, an internationally recognized artist working in performance, sculpture, photography, video, and installation. Marta’s works interrogate politics, identity, beauty and sexuality, and her interdisciplinary practice is an invitation to disregard society’s conventional notions in order to embrace a more democratic and liberated vision, one free from all constraints. 


Marta grew up in Tito’s communist Yugoslavia and fled Belgrade in the 1990s with the onset of the Bosnian War, along with 350,000 citizens of the former-Yugoslavia. She has spent the ensuing years living between Rome, New York and Belgrade. She is currently preparing LJUBAV (“love” in Serbian), a large-scale performance marking the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Agreement, which brought peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina. LJUBAV will explore the darker days of that war, which included ethnic cleansing and NATO bombings of her native Belgrade, Marta’s experience living in exile, and the current plight of 500,000 Syrian refugees that have made their way through Belgrade during the last twelve months.

In addition to exploring Marta’s life and art, Born Just Now will document Marta’s attempts to resuscitate the art scene in Belgrade and the rest of the Balkans.

Belgrade was once a center of contemporary Yugoslavian art and a vital hub of European conceptual art, but it has turned into a blank spot on the cultural map. As a result, opportunities and initiatives in Belgrade are scarce. Upon her return, Marta has joined forces with local institutions, artists, and donors on a number of initiatives and programs geared at reviving and establishing the local art scene, which has suffered greatly since the dissolution of Yugoslavia almost three decades ago. In 2015, she founded the Artist Residency program, which she runs in collaboration with the local Radisson Blue Hotel. This program encourages international artists, scholars, and curators to come to Belgrade and connect with the local art scene. It aims at creating a network of local and international artists and stimulates creative exchange and collaboration.

In addition, she founded PerformanceHUB, a collaboration with local scholar and curator Milica Pekić . In this year long performance art certificate program, students participate in an innovative, interdisciplinary program of workshops, lectures, and practice modules, which encourages them to develop their own creativity.

"As a child in communist Yugoslavia, on the first day of school and on important holidays we would wear red scarves and navy blue hats with red stars called Titovka. We were pioneers — Tito’s young communists — and most of us didn’t even know what it really meant.” ~ MARTA JOVANOVIĆ


"Jovanović is truly an artist of the twenty-first century. She is interested in the legacy of feminism, but she also has deep admiration for her male forbears. Are these contradictory stances? They should not be. For identity today is a shifting and transforming process, rather than a fixed state. We have learned from the achievements as well as the mistakes of earlier feminist thought—prescribing what is a liberated feminism from what is not is a futile process. What is more enlightening is to understand that the post-feminist condition allows for a personal quantification of identity, one that is not forced or assigned. This is what our feminist predecessors fought for so bitterly—for our generation to have freedom to make our own choices about our bodies, our art, our lives." ~ Dr. Kathy Battista

About Marta Jovanovic:

Throughout her multimedia works, Marta Jovanovic constructs scenarios in which she interrogates identity, beauty and sexuality. Whether through performance, drawing or photography, her interdisciplinary practice provokes a reconsideration of the dictates of culture and the construction of sexual identity. Appropriating the instantly recognizable characteristics of fashion mediums, her works reveal the limitations of the traditional canon of beauty while drawing attention to the fluidity of gender. Her performances, videos and photographs are an invitation to disregard conventional notions of beauty and embrace a more democratic vision of representation, free from all constraints. Belgrade born (1978), Jovanovic lives and works between London, New York and Rome. She received Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University in 2001 after attending Scuola Lorenzo de Medici, in Florence. In the cradle of Renaissance, she mastered the Italian language, literature and belle arti. The florentine experience had an immense impact on the young artist sharpening her sense of aesthetics and classical canons that continue to influence her entire ouvre. Provocatory works of Marta Jovanovic have been exhibited in Europe and the United States, in collaboration with eminent curators and artists. 

 Sélysette Film 2011

Principe di Montenevoso Performance 2011


"Motherhood" performance in Belgrade


Marta Jovanovic performed "Motherhood" as a contemplation of her life choices and her status as a woman artist in a patriarchal world. Having just gone through a fundamental transformation in her personal life, which forced her to reevaluate her path, her past and her future, she had to choose, once again, between society’s vision for a woman and her own way. The number of eggs in Motherhood was carefully chosen, each egg representing one fertile day in her life since she started menstruating at age 16. She states with an ironic smirk that each egg she cracked in the performance is one chance of becoming a “real woman”, a mother, that she “wasted on art.” Jovanovic faced a decision that many women have to make and that comes for most women with substantial doubt and a paralyzing feeling of being torn. Do I want to become a mother or do I want to pursue my career? It also is a decision that possibly puts enormous strain on relationships and even friendships. Of course, it does not necessarily need to be “either” “or”, but sometimes it has to be. And what will the implications be? Will I regret becoming a mother and wife and having to put my career on hold or even let it go entirely? Will I wish I had become a mother once I do not have the option any longer? Even though in the present day contraceptives and the increasing, yet still insufficient support systems for women have at least made a choice possible, that choice still needs to be made and its implications, which are grave and long-term, considered carefully. ~ Anja Foerschner (Read More)


ROBERT ADANTO made his directorial debut with The Rising Tide (2008), a feature-length documentary exploring China’s meteoric march toward the future through the work of some of the Middle Kingdom’s most talented photographers and video artists, including Wang Qingsong, Cao Fei, Xu Zhen, Yang Yong, Chen Qiulin and O Zhang. Shot in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen in the summer of 2006, The Rising Tide captures the confusion and ambiguity that characterize the new China. “An often surprising and thought-provoking documentary,” wrote WICN’s Mark Lynch, “The rest of us better make an effort to grasp what their work is about, or get out of the way. An “eye-opener” in every sense of the word, if you are an artist, curator or art teacher be sure to catch this film.” Pearls on the Ocean Floor (2010), his second feature, examines the lives and works of Iranian female artists living and working in and outside the Islamic Republic. Featuring interviews with art luminaries Shirin Neshat and Shadi Ghadirian, Pearls on the Ocean Floor received the Bronze Palm Award for Best Documentary at the 2011 edition of the Mexican International Film Festival and the Spirit of Independents Award at the 2012 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. The film was recently screened in Amsterdam at Francis Boeske Projects, in association with Opening Up: 9 Artists from Iran. His latest film, City of Memory, premiered at the 2014 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival and explores Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the lives of visual artists from New Orleans. It features interviews with Deborah Luster and Tameka Norris.  In September, City of Memory will screen in association with Katrina Then & Now: Artists as Witness, an exhibition at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Mr. Adanto earned his M.F.A. in Acting from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. 

His films have enjoyed screenings at The Smithsonian Institution's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; The Museum of Fine Arts Boston; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); The National Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow; Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt; The Smithsonian Institution’s Freer and Sackler Galleries;  The Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, Australia; The Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago; The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto; The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles;  The Worcester Art Museum, MA; The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami;  The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota; the 2009 Hong Kong International Art Fair;  The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO;  The Royal College of Art in London;  The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; The National Museum of Australia in Canberra; The Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco;  The Orange County Museum of Art, CA;  The Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles; the San Francisco Art Institute; the Kansas City Art Institute;  Jagiellonian University, Krakow, PL; The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; Harvard University; Yale University; Wellesley College; UCLA; USC, The University of Kansas; New York University; and the University of Michigan.