Selma Selman was born in 1991 in Bihać, a small settlement in Bosnia. The young artist of Romani origins was the student of both Veso Sovilj and Mladen Miljanović in the Academy of Fine Arts in Banja Luka (Republika Srpska, Bosnia) and is currently pursuing her academic path in the University of Syracuse, New York. She is working with performance, video, photography and painting. Her practice both embraces and blasts the stereotypes about Roma people by referring to her personal experience, life situations and stories, but also focusses on her own specific condition as a young woman artist of Roma origins from Bosnia.
To continuously transcend her status and emancipate herself from all gender-based and racial discrimination, persecution, trauma and tension, she often uses her body as a loud speaker to convey her struggle, despair, anger, fear, resistance and fight for survival. She is one of the youngest and most exciting flag-bearers of a long tradition of critical and political performance from the ex-Yugoslav area. The way she connects her body, her female condition as well as her South-East European and Romani origins to her discursive contents is the fresh and powerful continuation of works and performances by Katalin Ladik or Tanja Ostojić.
Following the young artist’s first introduction in acb Gallery in the collective exhibition entitled Identification: Field exercises after Katalin Ladik in which she showed photos and a performance video, her first individual exhibition presents her latest paintings on scrap metal, a series of self-portrait drawings, photos and a new performance conceived for Budapest. Selma Selman’s paintings on scrap metal are a personal visual diary composed of – sometimes symbolic – self-portraits, portraits of her family, depictions and impressions of everyday life scenes in Bosnia as well as reference to characters or works from art history that have been determining for her. The scrap metal onto which she realizes these works is a reference to her family’s struggling existence, her father collecting such metal pieces to sell them in order for his family to subsist. By using this material for her paintings, Selma Selman symbolically transforms this seemingly useless surface into a conveyer of her message, her origins into a strong base to build on and transcends misery, discrimination and stereotypes.
Her series of drawings form an even more intimate body of works as they reflect her struggle, sufferance and discomfort with her own female body and all the gender-based expectations that society and especially her own family are attaching to it. Selma Selman’s work is indeed full of tensions, rips and tears as she continuously tries to mend the wounds, narrow the tremendous gap between her origins – and all burdens that they mean for her – and her autonomous existence as a contemporary artist.
For her exhibition in acb Attachment, Selma Selman is premiering a new performance in which she destroys a large number of hoovers with a fireman axe. Beyond the repeated reference to her family’s way to subsist, this performance stands for the destruction of a housework device that became associated with the enslaving of housewives for more than a century, but also a moment of catharsis when the artist can ease the inner tensions that both destroy and construct her.