Selma Selman – “I will buy my freedom when”
The young Bosnian artist of Roma origins is working with performance, photography and painting. Her practice both embraces and blasts the stereotypes about Roma people by referring to her personal experience, life situations and stories.
In her latest ongoing, performative and organizational project entitled “I will buy my freedom when”, Selma Selman reflects on a tradition still vivid in some cultures around the world and even in certain parts of Europe, as well as in her family: the girls in age to be married are sold as brides to the family of the husband-to-be, thus providing an important income for her family, and protection for the bride. While the artist is not following this traditional path, she still is reminded of this question each time she is visiting her family. Her ambivalence towards this tradition, nourished by her personal sensitivity and history of struggling against traditions of consummation, expresses in the questions provoked by the project: What does it mean to be free? Who can give us freedom? Shall we ask someone for that? Selma Selman’s ultimate aim is to simultaneously free herself from the tradition of the marriage as well as free her parents from the structures of tradition, and show the way of collective self-emancipation to the future generation.
The exhibition features a central video research piece presenting the artist’s family to which she asks the simple question: How much money does she need to give them in order not to marry me off? The second video piece takes the form of a commercial advertisement and directs customers to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook Message 'Selman Selma’ to negotiate prices for her art, clothes and hair in order for her to collect $11,166, the price set by her family to buy her freedom. The drawings presented in parallel also form an 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.
The project is realized in connection with Selma Selman’s performance entitled Superposition, presented in the frame of the ArtZone program at Sziget Festival on the 10th of August, in which she subjects her own body to contradicting identities and functions, fighting, protecting and training herself simultaneously.