DATES is the collaborative project that started in 2013 between Radenko Milak (1980, Travnik, Yugoslavia) and Roman Uranjek (1961, Trbovlje, Yugoslavia). After an encounter on social media were both found surprising coincidences. Milak had begun to publish works of his series '365', while Uranjek since 2002 was working daily on the project called 'At least one cross a day,' which he published online. Two perspectives on time and history intersect randomly to initiate a surprising exchange of subjects, ideas, and historical insights, this between two artists with a common origin: the former Yugoslavia.
Each one was elaborating an aesthetic notion of time and its relation to the present, through a daily action of a personal, subjective, and obsessive register, whose object was as much to make of time action, as to bring a historical event to the present. Through this shared way of facing history, a systematic way to create was built, between two artists, a rich and personal body of work.
A recovery/revaluation/interrogation of time becomes an effective way to elaborate, from two different perspectives, a single concept, each one using different material approaches and narratives. Both are inclined to differentiate chronological time from time as experience, as well as to identify past events that make up their documentary obsessions from the records of modernity.
In Milak's case, the images come from the press, propaganda, historical books, and cinematography, generally going for a refined picture in monochrome watercolors; his images the visual memory of modernity or present times. He frequently alludes to accidents, wars, and disasters derived from technology and conflict.
Uranjek uses material from books, various magazines, and various prints; he favors the use of collage and color in his work. He usually examines the avant-garde of the 20th century (the recurring cross being a sign derived from Malevich) and the triad of art, politics, and war in Eastern European society. He is one of the founders of the NSK group (Neue Slowenische Kunst, a political and artistic collective), with the ERWIN collective, to which he belongs. The "Retro-avant-gardism principle is present in his work. In essence, it consists of recycling symbols, ideas, and philosophies of the past with a strong interest in the uses of power.
Milak said in a 2010 post: "The images of the past are threatened with extinction if the present is not recognized in them… the question then is how not to forget the past, but how to make it visible here and now, but also how to rise above it, in the process of transforming reality as a whole".
In this way, these artists proceed crossing temporal and physical borders, ignoring distances, blurring the near and the far, adding layers, and somehow making the past present.
The present is linked to a chronological past, a lived present, and an expectation of the future. Such hermeneutical position links the three terms making the matter of history not only factual data but also a possibility. In the words of Reinhart Koselleck (Futures Past, On the Semantics of Historical Time, Columbia University Press, 1983), everything is prospect and possibility, a past conception of the future, future past.