Zdjelar’s video work Shoum starts with a blank screen, we see no image, but hear the sound of the 1984 Tears for Fears megahit Shout. Then we see an iPod, a sheet of paper and the hands of two men from Belgrade, holding pens. Over the course of the next seven minutes we observe how the two attempt to decipher the lyrics of Shout as though they contain a coded message. This is in fact the case, considering that these men speak no English. Thus they phonetically transcribe what they hear, based on their own vocabulary and capacity to vocally interpret the unfamiliar. "Shoum Shoum Lajdi o Lau", they write and sing, in a strange invented language somewhere between phonetic transcription, Serbian, and English, as Tears for Fears sing "Shout, shout, let it all out".

We witness how through errors and deformations an entirely "new language" is being created, which intriguingly relates to the original in a shifted way, namely acoustically. As quickly becomes clear, meaning here is less a matter of understanding than of processing and assimilation. Cut off from the lingua franca of a globalized world, with perseverance these two men create something on their own that lies between the foreign and the familiar. The work thus opens up space for critique by embracing Mladen Stilinovic’s "An Artist Who Cannot Speak English Is No Artist" and its implicit antithesis.

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Shoum
Katarina Zdjelar
2009
3/5+2
1 channel video, color video, stereo audio
720px x 576px, 6'58"