Writing Samples

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Sammlung mit Textbeispielen von Marijana Radovic

The Pearlification

Last night in my dream there was a robust silver plate of plump ripe shells laid before me and I was gnawing on them like a tsunami. At times I had more than three in my big mouth. Their flesh was orange and I was chewing on it, crushing the shells and shedding the nacre dust all over. At some point I wondered ‘what am I doing and why am i doing it??’ The answer flashed back at me as a reflection on a tray, in places where there was no more food left. My own reflection was a walrus. I remember thinking ‘What is this animal doing in my mind?, but still continued eating away the orangey flesh. I looked at the pile of empty shells, it was approx 2 meters high and I thought ‘Ok, it’s still 2 meters o’clock’. Although I thought ‘alright, alright, alright’, a silent kind of panic started crawling in and swelling up like a wall of thick wet skin. I swelled up and turned inside out (or outside in?), it felt like waking up in a dream. This was an end of a walrus being a walrus. THEN a gigantic butterfly flew by and thought it saw a FLOWER! You know how in a dream you get to switch perspectives? So now I am a butterfly. Or maybe a person in an airplane? Or a speck of dust flying by? A splash of sea foam on the wind maybe? How would I know, anyway? I was flying as anything else that flies, might as well been a wedding drone. There I saw a fleshy flower on the ground. I saw myself inside out, but I felt a body – a decaying, digested body, hard and still. The butterfly on a plane told me that I was a pearl in a shell within an inside-out walrus (or a splatter of sea foam felt me as a pearl in a flesh flower)…?:/


But I knew I was a pearl because the outside was a misty fleshy rosé world. All I knew was what was not me, so it must have been soft and blue, like the sea. …. I was sedimenting there, layering the hours on my body, hardening, hard and impenetrable. ‘Patience will free me…….’, I thought. Time takes patience. I wanted to make the time flow faster, so I tried to do it by pretending that I AM time, and time is a perl eaten by a bird, or washed ashore on sea foam, rolling over sand grains, moving somewhere. But moving, that was important. I started growing bigger and bigger, pressing against the thick skin of a walrus. And then I woke up, but I thought that I’ve died? Everything felt warm and white, then yellow and finally orange to red, and I was Marijana again. I made some oat meal and tea. Wrote this dream down on my laptop. Bis morgen!


The Rose Roadkill

It was cold and wet where I found myself, in the Kazanlak Valley. A cold humid memory kept me nurtured enough to grow out of it. My rosé flesh was ripening by the drop. Listening still, like a vivid image I was unfolding away. This melody I was hearing is typical for the soil I saw myself standing on, they say. Rose petals from childhood memories bedded the floor. This rhythm was the sound of their footsteps arriving. I couldn’t see the feet that were supposedly orchestrating all of this but I could well hear them – distant and familiar sounds from a different age, shimmy clanks of the olden Silk Roads. My red ancestors echoing through the valley as their masters approach, reborn in flesh and iron but not in spirit. Who would have thought I would end up here? growing towards a memory of a melody of thousand-and-four-hundred-and-five waves crashing against the boats on the restless Indian Ocean. And here I am still, crucified, chewed up and spit out in the process; more concrete than a dream but still not a solid drop of perfume. My fragile body lies pressured, violated over and over again by the merciless copper brutes. Just a few tears left shed and bottled away. You can meet me on a bejeweled pedestal of a sleepy display on a warm summer night at the Greek border duty-free shop.


A Dinner and A Movie

My home is not much more than an aphrodisiac now. What shaped me is a discarded piece of inedible food laying on a porcelain plate next to a dead fish, both staring at the moon in ignorance and listening to two lovers laugh and hundreds of waves crash in succession, as if they are trying to drown the shore and take it back. Take all of us back to where we belong, or where we think we belong. The sea covered the mountains and made them look like little islands, people find it romantic. So the waves are fighting back and lovers are laughing. One lover feels a disturbance in her stomach and runs to the edge of the balcony to throw up into the sea. The waves take it back and they laugh back into her face, a splash of sea foam to remind her of that eternal love she is hopeing for. I observe it all from the floor, degraded and commodified into a heel of her shoe. Hoping to get a splash of that sea foam, for old times sake. I may look like a moon to a child’s eye, but I can’t change the tide. I follow where she goes and she always avoids the sea, trying not to damage the fancy pearly shoes. I’m expensive and taken good care of. I dance and descend down the stairs in elegance. Dancing in circles by the sea from which I came from.


Life Summer Air

I was kneeling down in a cold church at the altar, praying with my hands, chanting ‘knees-arms-knees-arm-shoulders-toes-shoulder-toes’. With each breath I could feel the weight of my words and the sun’s warmth spreading over me like butter. I could feel my nails growing, that way I knew my prayer was heard. The air inside of me travelled from a mountain and passed through the lungs of birds, rice farmers and dogs; it killed a flower and saved a sea gull from hitting a rock. Such history in my lungs! Now it’s trapped inside of me for a breath or two, helping my nails grow faster, regenerating my memory of the time I had my nails painted blue to match a summer day in Greece. ‘Life is like a warm summer night at the greek border in 1994’, I thought back then with the warm air filling up my lungs.


The Green Beans of April

If I had to choose the fondest memory view from this spring’s trip to 2015, I would have to say – the aerial view of April. The lime green fields below me sprang ripples like a shivering lake. The buffered chatter of children in the fields led me through April, navigating me through the clear skies and the painless routes. The wind was spreading me out across the whole year, rolling and rolling around until I hit a giant tree. Maybe not as gigantic as it was obvious within the landscape. Inflated as I was, I had no intention of staying there for too long. All I wanted was to see the greens of past April and the May tree. In a rush, in one blow. My aluminised body cast some kinda shadow over the fields, like a horse chasing the waves. The green was reflected on my inflated body, with a golden halo making it warm. Although I was flying, it felt more like diving into honey. The sticky images were sticking onto me and I could almost taste that honey filling up my insides. I grew heavy and heavier in that thought, it was weighting me down. That’s where I hit the below mentioned tree and there I lost all the air that kept me up. Deflated and deformed, I hung there while the children were laughing at me. The laughter was pointing out that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I laughed along, along with the fields and the trees.



There is no place like home. A home is something unique to each individual. This must be a place where all the other places spring from and the place where we tend to return to. Some return to stay for good, some to visit and others return to burn the old house down in order to build a new one upon its beaten ashes. When I say home, I don’t mean just of that shelter that bred you. It is also the country that borders the soil of your first steps, your parents and the language you share, your fellow countrymen and their ideologies – an entire portion of time and space that you knew before you knew yourself. All of those shells within shells within shells that made you a pearl. It is the archetype that lingers on and defines your perception of the world. It is not just a portion of space, not just a concrete or wooden house with a door and some windows on it; moreover, it is a portion of time that succeeds itself by growth, always in the process of sedimentation. A solid rock to be chiselled into a monument or left untouched, sometimes a tool to build a house with.


A kōan to the yellow brick road

Those who go back to destroy or rebuild already have a model of a wish of a new home in mind. To quote John Carey – “An imaginary place must be an expression of desire. That desire is what constitutes a utopia.”(Carey 1999, p. 11) The word utopia was first forged in 1516 by Sir Thomas Moore, translated from Greek it means no-place. The book itself describes a fictional perfected society that lives on a New Island of Utopia, its social and religious order. Today, utopia is employed as an allegory in fictional narratives that comment on society by redefining its fundamental values. It is often located on islands, other planets or any other secluded environment; places that embody the principle of the new and the unreachable, thus constituting an imaginary discourse with the actual world it reflects upon, leaving this counterfactual reality in its shadow. Utopias are solid constructs in theory. They are not fluid as they don’t allow for an individual to affect the course of an already established (perfect) system that has been conducted by its creator. The rebellious character is mostly used in utopian fiction in order to expose the flaw in the system. These types of flawed or ‘bad’ utopias are also called dystopias. In this case, societies are portrayed as exaggerated versions of already existing societies, strongly indicating the problem i.e., the flaw. A dream house on the other side of the rainbow, a promise of home that should have been or just hope, or just fear. That is utopia. It is one’s desire, therefore potentially an oppressive one to the others. But since it is only a house in the clouds it remains benign. It lives in stories we tell to each other, but it has no place where one could place a chair and sit on, no fertile ground to sow a seed on. Only its fertility and a pregnant broken home.



In Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard wrote that the house of the future, the dream house, is sometimes a much more grandiose construction than that of the childhood home. An image that guides us through life as an ideal home that should, perhaps, never be erected. The image of home opens a topography of our intimate being, like a small window with the biggest and the best view; an opening in the wall that connects the house with the garden, the garden with the river and the fish, the fish with the sky above the attic, and the attic with the worm under the basement. Everything you can see from the window of a house belongs to that house. His idea was a utopistic one – to live in a state of impermanence and resist finality. Like Sisyphus building the Great Pyramid of Giza or Orpheus in a loop before his final judgement. Weather it is a childhood home, a utopia, or a roadside motel in your cerebral cortex, to describe these spaces would make them open for others to enter them (Bachelard 2010, p. 34). To put them into words and images means to expose them, make them penetrable. All matter sticks to ideas, no matter how abstract, they will emerge with a door and a knob. It’s a material world and sometimes it’s made of Tetris blocks, sometimes of cotton-candy, sometimes of lava and sometimes of neutrons or adjectives. I’m sitting in my room in Berlin and I’m drawing a house. I admire the lines that I draw with a pencil. I like the line but the shapes are ambiguous. As if I don’t know what I want to draw, or I don’t know what a house should look like. I can draw a wall. Bachelard would have maybe been proud of me, but my mother would just be worried. I wonder If my father’s hotel is to blame or to thank for this? I grew up in too many rooms and offices, the only place I can call home is


an abandoned old house on an island. Or a picture of that house. I lived in both, anyways. The line i drew on a paper is determined and strong and it even has an accent, but it doesn’t know what it is. The rooms are fragmented and there is almost no furniture, no outside. It’s a happy place because it’s a no-place, it’s every other place. It’s just a word. It’s a place with a door. It’s a house with a basement and stairs that lead up to the ground floor. There are four tall windows in each of the two rooms and a small porch in the front; a staircase that leads to the attic with two small windows, of which one is oval shaped. There is a garden around the house and a bird that flies over the roof. This bird can see the house and the garden and everything else that I saw. She is a part of this house. This house is under construction, it might turn into a motel. It has internet and cable and stardust and a small closet. I got lost inside. But I was born with a world inside. Luckily, there is always a gust of wind that points south to the bird’s nest. He also said – a man that dreams of houses sees them everywhere. That man is sitting on a window, obviously.


1. Swimming Pools

That place where my parents or my grandparents or my great-aunt or my grand grand mother would take me every morning, a place for pausing the children in your life – the kindergarten – it used to be a swimming pool in the municipality of New Belgrade. This pool was now an empty concrete ruin that served as our stage. For us, that was the biggest part of the city. So, we had these big old empty swimming pools around the main building. We used these concrete wells in the middle of our playground as a part of that playground, to make the part of our day without television more bearable. We were a group of space cowboys and cowgirls on a quest to rescue someone from something. First, we swim through the ocean, battling against the invisible waves that crash against us in a subjective form of dead leaves. Then, we roll around on a concrete ocean oor like there are no leaves in this world we got to know so far. It didn’t matter, we didn’t know Dostoyevsky, we didn’t know who we were rescuing and from who or what. But i know an ocean when i see one! and i saw one on the TV, right after that savaged wall, there was a giant fish swimming in that ocean. We all saw it, communism was still our parent and we all liked the same things. We liked to think of that same ocean with a giant fish in it. But it was just an image, it had no smell. It just had that name and us. What if someone told us that a trip to El Hierro would cost us only 9098 dinars? There is an ocean there, there is adventure, probably they had a few TV sets there even. Our parents could afford it, they could have paused us for an entire week! Instead, we swam our way across a hard empty pool, rode some huge yellow tires


like it’s that horse from the Marlborough ad, roamed through a three-tree forest to save someone from something there deep in the forest. My hamster must have felt the same in its cage. He was also on pause – on a pause between being a person and missing out on all of the opportunities that life could offer to a creature as magnificent as him. We were all in the same corner marked with an X. We had a kingdom made of cigarette ads, Survival collectable stickers, communist ruins, the Grimm brothers and Walt Disney, personal traumas and time. We had to reinvent space and reenact memory on what used to be a pool in New Belgrade.

2. I in my Closet

The NATO bombing of Belgrade had nothing to do with my eyeshadow. Puberty is a long transition from wearing asexual clothes mum buys, to writing about it on a 13’’ MacBook Pro retina display. My own identity was a battle field and the make-up helped me camouflage and survive this war. In this state of crisis I was kept in my teenage room, where I was allowed to stay in touch with my own kind through the world wide web and extremely long telephone calls. All the time it felt like there was a mirror held up against me and I kept changing the angles until I was satisfied with the outcome, and I was never satisfied because it was always there. I mean, how long can you stay focused staring at your own reflection? Unless you, like, really love yourself like a dog. Or could you spend two weeks in a row in the same outfit? Without even washing it? I’m sure it would start itching and reeking and nobody will ever love you or respect you or even want to talk to you, or even write you a ticket. It’s like a prison, literally. I had a lot of time on my hands and I had my hands and with my hands I was touching my face, my bed, my posters, my toasted sandwiches, smudging


my make-up in the morning with my fingers, typing on the keyboard, scratching my belly, playing with my lips, making shadow puppets, holding a pencil and drawing penises. ... nervously walking up and down the 17m2 room like an animal, sometimes crawling on the floor performing rituals, sacrificing my body to the god of all things cool that I couldn’t reach with my fingers. Sometimes at night I would masturbate in my bed, or on the floor, but my favourite place for self-exploration was the closet. It was a small part of my closet perfectly fit for me. I had only a few of my special dresses inside and it was decorated with a collage I made. A special place inside my room where I would crawl in naked. The only place in the world where I feel safe naked, move around as much as I can in that restrained space and let the soft fabrics touch me. Discreetly. Like a soft piano piece. Pianissimo, forte, mezzo-piano, mezzo-forte, piano, forte. moderato. Spiegel im Spiegel and a man walking on the moon. Waves crashing and leather seats. A horse galloping in slow motion. It was so cold and dark and it felt like drifting through outer space caressed by a mythological creature that really loved me. And I hope that it cried every time I left my closet.


3. Disneyland

I’ve always wanted to go to disneyland. I still do... In 1991 my sister got to live my dream and go to Florida (US), take a ride through a fake giant carotid artery in a spaceship with Donald Duck. I saw the pictures, I lived inside of them for a while. It took her only one afternoon in my half-grandmother’s home in New Belgrade to persuade our father to give an 18-year old girl four of his full salaries and fly her across the ocean in order to learn English and her true-self. I was too young to care about finances and puberty. I was just in the other room playing with whatever was in that room. There was a pocket mirror in that room. I discovered the moon with that mirror. It was my second Aha-Erlebnis. I didn’t care about Disneyland anymore, it belonged to my sister. She put her flag on it and I could only salute that image from my very own moon. The room I was standing in would split into two rooms when I put that pocket mirror on the temple of my nose. Like a secret passage into some another dimension, which I probably saw in a movie, only better. It was my land that no one else could see or access. I walked on the ceiling carefully, slowly, like both the predator and the prey at the same time. I felt like I might become prey to the real space around me. Some inanimate object might get in my way and make me trip over, kill me on my moon and bring me back to that room with just a bed. The only thing I had in common with my family at that very moment was my sister’s whining voice. Although annoying, it was my safety cord keeping me locked to familiar ground. There was a lamp hanging from the ceiling – now it’s a flower growing upwards,


or a balloon. I skipped all of the obstacles carefully, although there weren’t many. It was very clean and it felt like heaven must feel to an unimaginative person. Still, it’s heaven. I was dancing around those flowers, there was a big crystal chandelier in the main room where my family quorum took place. I flew in and interrupted the quorum with my strange delight and wonder, as I danced around the chandelier in quiet ecstasy. I felt like a pioneer of virtual reality, like a super hero, like that first hallucinogenic experience waiting to hit! My father decided to send my sister to Disneyland that day.

4. Whoville

Not a girl, not yet a woman. Not even a full-on teenage girl yet. But I do shower regularly, sort of, now. I don’t lust after boys but I do lust after toys. Serbia in the 90’s was not a happy place. Roller skates were a luxury, a Greek holiday was a luxury, Nutella was a luxury, Puma discs were a luxury… toilet paper and sanitary pads were considered luxurious goods too. That year I got a pencil for my birthday from a friend from school. It was cold and everyone was poor. People on the TV looked indiferent and ugly. I was ugly and nobody wanted to dance with me, so I danced with myself. As an only child it’s a go-go. But I didn’t care much for friends I justwanted THAT toy! The Mattel catalogue was full of POLLY POCKET pictures. My holy grail, my little bride’s veil, my Sankara stones, the twinkle in my eyes, the hope in all my dreams… Those plastic little worlds promised a home that wasn’t mine, yet only mine. My very fist utopia.


I cut them out with scissors and fold them up, so they look like the real deal. It’s just that they were made of paper, not plastic, and they were smaller. And Polly was 2D instead of 3D. There was an orange house with a flower garden and it had Polly in a blue overall, like a gardener, and she had a parrot and then the diamond-shaped pink one with a school inside and it had classrooms and then there was a violet Polly Pocket that had a fridge and a couch for Polly and her friend to watch TV and if you had all of them you could make a little village so they can visit each other and they are all your friends only small and plastic and they have beds, balloons and pizza but they can’t bend their knees, although they have a football field, and they talk about what they did in Pollyville and how they hate boys and they go to the beach and we know it’s not just a carpet and the tiles of the house where Polly baby-sits are black and white and it’s always summer and winter at the same time and I’m sooooo happy to be a part of my own reign that I forget what a real watering can looks like and I am also peanut sized and sometimes I spend the whole day in my elevator or I fish for paisleys and i take my dog to the hair saloon with me and the best thing is that he is ME! :D

5. Eurydick

It seems like everything started growing out of my bodies. Boobs, hair, nose, arms, pimples… everything was pouring out and fluid. As if there was an explosion inside of me that had its own time, but we shared the same space. Letting loose in all directions, my body was a drunken loose cannon dragging the other part of me around. I was so clueless. Part of that debris was unknown desire searching for its Ziel. I have nowhere to aim at, in my head there’s only Mozart’s symphonies in Vienna and anatomy of a fish, maybe a few pop stars and some ancient history.


Dear diary, today i fell in love with a boy. He was the most beautiful blonde hair I have ever seen and his jacket was blue and red. Blue and red are my new favourite colours now! blue… and red, blue and red… blue and red blue and red and blonde and red blue blue blue <3 Every day when we go to lunch at school i see him in the tunnel corridor. Almost every day i walk behind him and i, he is soooo beautiful… his hair is almost white and his jacket is so cool. i saw the same one on a man yesterday but it didn’t look as cool. I still don’t know his name or his face, but it must be the most beautiful face with a name that has ever worn that jacket or ever will! He must be from Egypt, the land of ancient gods and love and eyeliner. I don’t know where you come from but i want to live and die there, to oscillate throughout eternity from the spring of your chest. And i don’t mean chest or Egypt… His hair is white like the pyramids, eyes maybe blue? maybe he’s an angel and only i can see him? maybe he’s got purple eyes and red lips… i don’t know but i’m in L.O.V.E and he is the prince of my innermost dreams! Finally, after 12 lonely years! My desire lived on his shoulders for weeks and that jacket was a waving flag on the moon, like a red flag on the moon and I was a sitting bull with a TV, watching the broadcast. Once he turned around to shout something funny at his friend in the school yard, the guardian Sphinx on his shoulders collapsed. It’s not the right face, that’s not the face i dreamed of, NOT the guy i’m in love with!


6. Everything in Order?

At the age of four or five, I had a recurring paranoia of being observed as a lunatic by the rest of the world which is not mine. From my current point of view it feels like paranoia, but back then it might have been just an idea or a game I played with myself. The idea of millions of different parallel universes that might interlace with mine while I’m taking a pee both amused and terrfied me. While I eat my breakfast, I think of strangers looking at me in wonder, laughing, trying to talk to me, asking me what am I doing there… am I ok, is everything in order? But I am only eating my bread and honey and watching a cartoon in a small ground floor apartment with a carpet on the floor and beautiful mildew on the walls. There is nothing strange about it, not even a sound. Until I realise I could be sitting in the middle of their main street, which is a bit strange for a morning routine. They want to know who I am and where do I come from, how did I appear there out of nowhere eating bread and honey? Where did that honey come from? But I can’t communicate with them or really see them. Great fun for me, yet a possible trauma for one entire universe! Apart from being slightly tweaked in spatial arrangement from my native universe, it looked the same and felt more of a home to me. No one, absolutely no one, knew who I was and neither did I. We all understood each other perfectly there. I thought that this universe was just a microscopic part of the green lighter that was laying on my kitchen table. Around Christmas I was standing alone in the living room, holding a golden Christmas tree ornament. It looked like an ice-cream swirl and it was the most beautiful one we had on the tree. What would happen if I just break it? It’s just an ornament, there are millions of golden Christmas ornaments in the


world, and even more of millions of those in other galaxies far far away. It should be hanging from that plastic tree I’m standing next to, that’s where it should be. If it falls on the oor, my mother would tell me to pick it up and put it back on the Christmas tree. If someone accidentally breaks it, that someone gets scolded… or not? I wasn’t sure. What happens when the beautiful golden Christmas ornament gets smashed for no reason? Nothing happened, but I learned almost everything.

7. Street View

There is still a street in Belgrade that I can see it from any bus that drives through the lower part of Dorćol. It’s hidden behind between a school and a bakery and behind a tall grey hexagonal concrete tower on the left, and a small store rotated to the centre right around the corner. I often dream about it, and when I pass by the hexagonal structure, I don’t dare to go any further because if I don’t, I can imagine a promenade in Ealing that looks like the old part of Podstražje, only with skyscrapers, the unseen familiar other – far up where you can’t see – on my grandmother’s closet. You have to squint and stand on the tip of your toes to really see it. I never went down that street and turned left, but it always took me where I wanted to go. If I ever do turn back and look at it, I know I will be just stuck in a street in Belgrade. Visibility is a trap.


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