My name is Jelena Marković. I allways say my full name, because to me personaly, it sounds like a joke, or invented character to represent a stereotype: born to have one of the most freequent local (Serbian) family names, I was given the most freequent feminin name in Serbia ever (origing from anciant Greece, versions of it exist in many languages and cultures, and by living in Russia, I discovered it was the most freequent first name there too). Thus, I see my own name as a concept/conceptual name to be used in jokes about Serbian women – if such jokes existed in world. I was born in Belgrade in 1973. Many were, again. To give in something where I become real: I am a film director by profession and an artist by destiny. Fluent in three foreign languages (French, English and Russian), I’ve been freequently mistaken by many, friends and family included, for an object that automaticly and restlessly translates (simultaniously or consequently), words they say and hear. Recently I started refusing to be reduced to such an object, because I often find my own thoughts worthier of being heard, then convinient sentences exchanged among those who cannot find their way… Also, I enjoy watching people making body gestures in attempts to communicate: it sometimes looks like a modern dance, and they all know at the end what they knew at the start, only everybody smiles.
I studied film directing in Moscow (1992-1994) at the VGIK, then in Belgrade (1994-1998) on University of art’s Faculty for Drama Arts. Formaly also educated in Center for Women Studies (class1998-1999). And feminist indeed I am.
When I arrived to Moscow I already had deep political counsciesness. From Russia, I was expecting a positive model of transition. Instead, what I found was state organized or sponsored violence, racism, and deepening divisions among the nouveau riche minority and the poor. I was a teenager when i arrived to Moscow.. Living there was a painful but revealing experience. At the moment when Belgrade was living under very harsh conditions, Moscow provided me with many options in developing artistically, culturally and personally. Moscow also gave me a particularly interesting perspective on the wars that were destroying the country I was born in. I fully supported independance of each former Yugoslav republic, holding my own responsable for wars. That wasn’t a very popular opinion neither back home, nor among Russians. So my friends in Russia were mainly not Russian. My best friend, flat mate and a class mate was Iranian/Persian. With her daugther, we were a family. I keep the only photo I have of them on the wall above my desk. I added a (recent) photo of myself very precious to me (taken by another special person in my life) just in front, on the table, so that I am close to them. Strange circumstances took away most of the photographs of my past (including my own student work in photography), so the remains I cherish. I tend to believe that such a name as Jelena Markovic, only by its own lack of anything peculiar, carries a curse of erasing facs of existance… Like I have to put in a lot of effort to prove my self real. In fact, that is why I am so passionately going back to media of photography: never enough… all my films, scripts, writings, projects… so many lost! I do not have copies of my own work, and it was hard hard work. I created so much, and can only show bits… I have to always reinvent myself, become real again and again, until Jelena Markovic I become.
I mainly exist as a freelancer, most often even self-produced, and that in itself is a struggle. Put it together with a curse of always having to prove myself a real person, then try to count the size of the burden of just being me! Being me comes with a heavy cost, but carries some rewards: I am free and uncompromising. I willingly pay the price, while learning how to live through it.
I gained experience in working with big companies with reputation, such as ARTE/ZDF; Serbian national television RTS; as well as UNIFEM. I self-produced my latest film Memoria, which recently received parcial financement by the Belgrade city for its further development. This is the first time I am receiving public funding for any of my projects, although I have been presented as a Serbian film director and artist in international festivals, reviews, other events and media for over 10 years. Freedom does come with a price, but one worth paying.
I also write, mainly poetry in English and prose in Serbian. My old hobby of collage developed into an artistic form of expression at a professional level. I am also a photographer. That makes me a multi media artist, as they would call it today. Here, I kept throwing around proud phrases about freedom. I do so only since I have become convinced in skills of my head and hands, since I dare to say that I live my art. What remains is to make it more visible and accessable.