• Shoum, 2009

Two men are writing letters, listening to the hit song "Shout" by the British New Wave band Tears for Fears that was released in 1984. They are Serbian and don't understand English. As they listen to the lyrics, they are trying to find sounds that are similar to the words they know, or at least characterize sounds with their own interpretation, even when they don't sound like anything they know. For example, when the original lyrics go "Shout, shout, let it all out", they write "Shoum Shoum Lajdi o Lau", which does not have meaning even in Serbian.
The former Yugoslavia, where the artist is originally from, used to be a federal republic made up of 6 republics. The fact that various ethnic groups, religions, languages fell apart after the collapse of the republic that began in 1991, inspires the artist work on pieces that explore the function of languages, as well as uncertainties inherent in them as a theme. The work can be interpreted in many different ways, when you think about the current situation, that many people spend their lives not speaking in their mother tongue.

Katarina ZDJELAR

  • Born 1974 Belgrade, Yugoslavia
  • Based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Katarina Zdjelar works with different modes of expression, including video and performance, that focus on the relationship between speech and language. "When I speak a language other than my mother tongue, my speech falls between me speaking language and language speaking me," notes the artist, whose homeland is former Yugoslavia, a country described as having "seven frontiers, six republics, five nationalities, four languages, three religions, two alphabets, and one state." In Shoum, two Serbian men replay a British band's 80s hit and try to transcribe its lyrics. In Zdjelar's work, language is depicted in a state of ambiguity and contingency, bringing to relief the implicit connection between language and identity in contemporary society, the tension which arises in the liminal space between different cultures and languages, and the plight of today's immigrants who inhabit these zones of in-betweenness.

Selected Works & Awards

2019 Katarina Zdjelar: AAA (Mein Herz) (solo), Hartware MedienKunstVerein [HMKV], Dortmund, Germany
2018 Katarina Zdjelar Vladimir(solo), Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg, Austria
2016 Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016, forming in the pupil of an eye, Kochi, India
2013 5th Moscow Biennale, Space of Exception, Moscow, Russia
2009 53rd Venice Biennial, Serbian Pavilion, Venice, Italy


Nagoya City Art Museum


2-17-25, Sakae, Naka-ku, Nagoya 460-0008 JAPAN


Admission until
30 minutes
before closing


Mondays (Except for National Holidays), Sep.17[Tue]


・8 minutes on foot from Fushimi Station on the Higashiyama Line or Tsurumai Line
・7 minutes on foot from Osu Kannon Station on the Tsurumai Line
・10 minutes on foot from Yabasho Station on the Meijo Line