Aleksandrija Ajdukovic TIGER LADIES

by Paula Muhr

Dom omladine Gallery, Belgrade
31st August - 19th September 2004

Aleksandrija Ajdukovic in her series of photographs entitled "Tiger ladies" traces a phenomenon which crosses boundaries between social classes, age groups, differences in professions and education. She approaches women in public spaces who are dressed in clothes with wild cat patterns and lifts them out of their everyday context.
By photographing them in a matter-of-fact manner, without any romanticising, Ajdukovic questions the extent to which they show, or even parade, rather than inadvertently disclose, their individual identity in public context. Code of dressing in this case presents a formal unifying principle, an element of social identity. Individual women exist in terms of difference, rather than similarity to other figures in the series - uniformity of the chosen wildcat pattern only offsets the diversity of social and personal distinctions.
The backgrounds are carefully selected to accentuate each model – some are simple and monochrome, and others have traces of rather distinct urban atmosphere in the form of posters or graffiti. Even the wild cat patterns themselves display a surprising variety of designs and colour combinations. Yet, the most striking element of the photographs are the poses these women take when photographed.
Aleksandija, obviously engages with her models, opening them up to the camera, without either idealising or criticising them. The portraits are a document of her street encounters with women who single themselves out of the crowd by adopting certain symbols, in this case dress patterns. It is questionable what their motifs for entering the process of this "urban camouflage" are. Could it be that they are looking for a way of expressing their individualism and femininity, are they conforming to a fashion style, or maybe sending signals of seduction?
When confronted with the series of portraits of these women in the gallery, the viewer is tempted to read their dress code as a cultural phenomenon, but, at the same time, cannot resist to compare them, looking for elements (other then the obvious dress pattern) which connect them, as well as set them apart. Aleksandrija photographed them with such subtlety and immediacy, that one is spontaneously attracted to these women who proudly present themselves for being looked at, almost as if they dressed that way in order to be photographed.