Aleksandar & Branka Davic on Mon, 25 Aug 1997 15:59:02 +0200 (MET DST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> The Rose of Wandering

Miroslav Mandic and the Rose of Wandering

His Life

Miroslav Mandic is in his forty-eighth year. His strong features lend
him a rough look. He definitely looks. He is dressed in blue, wearing
sneakers and a backpack. He can often be seen reading on the move. He
also wears his glasses on those occasions. In a catalogue, he once wrote

the following about himself:

 1949 - 1969 - Child, a boy, fatherless.
    Not too extreme poverty.
    Yearning for justice.
    Fire inside my head.
    Efforts towards finding taste.
 1969 - 1971 - Art flew straight into me.
1971 - 1981 - Abstaining from art to the point of pain and
    Punishment and guilt.
    Lostness, until freedom.
 1981 -   Art again.

These fragments, this outline may be expanded by reading Mandic's works,

which tell us the following... He was born on the outskirts of Novi Sad.

His father died when he was eight. His mother was cleaning up offices,
hence the "not too extreme poverty". Lunch eaten from newspapers.
Cutting shoes open when his feet grew too large for them. Slightly
rotten apples. Bread and margarine. He used to play football in the
junior team of the "Vojvodina" Football Club and according to the words
of local football-freaks: He would have made a significant career if he
had continued to play football. In 1970 the twenty year old Mandic
became involved in art as the founding member of the art group "KOD",
which was, along with the Slovenian group "OHO", the representative of
Yugoslav conceptualism. Feeling the need for a more profound experience,
he ceased his artistic activities after a year and his last, farewell
article, published in the "DAJ SIMPOSION" literary journal got him
sentenced to nine months in prison. I was and have remained guilty.
However, my guilt is much greater than my sentence. That is why I write,
in order to scream, so that I would scream one day. Until then I want to
sing, because if not for music then why was I in prison? (No, I Don't
Believe This Sentence Cannot Be Heard - the book he wrote thirteen years
later about his prison days). Having served his sentence, opting for not
knowing, non-humanity, patience, sluggishness and shame, he spent ten
years in anonymity and asceticism. During that time he 'devoted' himself
to beating carpets, working in a potter's workshop, at a building
site... Finally, in 1981 he got involved in art again.

According to the words of film director Dusan Makavejev, Miroslav Mandic
is the 'creator of new trends'. He is by all means one of the most
influential figures for young artists. Working with film, the visual
arts and literature, he uses walking as his chief method of expression,
in other words, working with all art forms, he leaves behind a large
number of creations. Complete devotion, according to him, is the
'everyday involvement in a perpetual present.' In reality, he seems to
be weaving a single imaginary, virtual thread through all of his
creations, which also include his own self. Ever since he got involved
in art and started to exercise the ideal of the unity of life and art,
this still being a constant in his life, these two fields can no longer
be distinguished from each other. This conscious and constant pushing
forward of the limits of personal freedom reminds us of the following:
'I want to make my life into a Henry David Thoreau poem or one
illustrating Witgenstein's sentence Tell them I have lived a wonderous

His Work

Mandic's work as an artist began in 1970. Besides his early engagement
in the group KOD, his chief work consists of the following:

"A Man" - Taking photographs of his own face once a month until the end
of his life, which, according to him, sprang forth out of a supposition
that wonder lies within myself, that instead of waiting in expectation
of a wonder I shall simply wonder and produce wonders.

Mandic created his first ten-year project "Leaves - The Tree of Life"
between 1975 and 1985. A total of 3650 sketches make up a complete
picture whose size is 2.7x20m. A picture, which is the affirmation of:
affirmation, the invisible, repetition, creation through time.

He started making use of walking as a form of artistic activity ever
since his 1983 performance titled "A Road to America or the New Life of
the Indians". It consisted of eight hours of slow walking along an
eight-meter long path, accompanied by eight centuries of music from the
12th to the 20th century, selected by M. L. Pashu.

"Four walks for poetry" were to follow. The first walk in 1984, from
Radicevic to Njegos and Presern. Strazilovo - Lovcen - Kranj. The second
walk, from Presern to Friedrich Hoelderlin. Kranj - Tuebingen. The third
walk from Hoelderlin to Rimbaud. Tuebingen - Charleville. The fourth walk
from Rimbaud to Blake. Charleville - London.

"The Twelve Copied Novels" (1985 - 87), twelve pictures (size 50x70 cm),
were created by transforming words into pictures, by copying twelve
novels by Yugoslav authors to the letter, thus producing an energy of

In 1987, in The Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, as a part of the
performance "the Writing Man", he spent nine months publicly writing a
novel. Two manuscripts came to life as a result of  this experience:
"Scenes from the Museum" and "The Writing Man".

The year 1989 saw the performance bearing the title: "A Public Cleaning
of the Public Lavatory in Banja Luka" - dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi.
He started his second ten year project "The Rose of Wandering" - ten
years of walking across Europe in London, from Blake's grave, and he is
currently engaged in it.

His Books

Mandic wrote his first book, I Am You Are Him between the springs of
1981 and 1982. The first sentence of the book "I am spring starts a
series of sentences, each written in a single day, ending it with: "I am
a bud" forming a circle (of light). According to Mandic, it is a book
about the "affirmation of the divine Self". Ten years after that, from
1991 to 1992, he wrote Kaja or I Am You Are Him II. The books I Am You
Are Him and Kaja are the first two in a cycle he is planning to write in

2001 - 2002 and in 2011 - 2012.

Warsaw, "a sack-book, a beggar's sack" was written in the course of a
single night (between 10.15 p. m. 28/12/1986 and 7.06 a. m. 29/12/1986).
No I Don't Believe This Sentence Cannot Be Heard, (1987) is a book about

prison. "Singing gently into the reader's ear."

Four poetry walks yielded three books: Walking for Poetry (1988), A
Child a Boy (1991), The Innocent Path (1992).

So far, the project titled "The Rose of Wandering" produced five out of
ten volumes of the book The Rose of Wandering.

A diversity of form and ways of expression in his books and works make
Miroslav Mandic a unique artistic personality, to whom classifications
and subdivisions into aesthetic genres are of no importance whatsoever.
Let us quote the author himself:

I am a poet because I write poetry because by writing beguide (seduce
and lead) the world.
I am a poet because for a poet the whole world is but a tiny poem.
I am an artist because an artist creates out of nothing and nothing
I am an artist because an artist gives birth and that which is created
lives in eternity.
I am a philosopher because I only observe and by doing nothing I
safeguard the world with wisdom.
I am a fool because I am free and beloved by God.
I am a fool because I utter that which others dare not.
I am a wanderer in order to commend myself unto God's arms.
I am a wanderer for I do not even seem to have myself.
I am a beggar and I beg so that others wouldn't reach bottom.
I am a beggar so that I could beg and beg for others, so that I could
say thanks and praise others.
I am a monk because I am beatified not only by my life but also by my
birth and my death.

The Rose of Wandering - Ten years of walking across Europe

The Rose of wandering is for me the most exciting project of which I
know at the moment... Ten years of one man's life transformed into ten
years of art. Such an abundance leaves one simply breathless, augmenting
the feeling of being lost before the edge of infinity. However, Mandic's
wanderings, that network of wanderings which will eventually
interconnect the whole of Europe in a real - unreal way, restore the
feeling of safety to us and renew the sense of things. Mandic's Rose is
a magical rebirth of a long-lost unity, a path towards serenity.

David Albahari

The best way to start the story of the ten year project "The Rose of
Wandering" is with a section from the book No I Don't Believe This
Sentence Cannot Be Heard written in prison:

I reach out towards the sky
and I say:
That is art.
Because no one has seen it.

Having spent almost three years in its preparation, Mandic made the
first step of "The Rose of Wandering" from Blake's grave in London on
September 9th 1991. Since then he has walked 20 km each day which, in
five years, adds up to about 35,000 km. Until the end of the project in
2001, the trail of the blue virtual rose will be 60,000 kilometers long.

In the course of his everyday walks, Mandic compiles his poetic notes
which are published every year in the form of a book. Apart from that,
his pencil leaves a trail of sketches, one each day, depicting herbs,
which will make up a cycle of 3650 sketches under the title of "The
Herbs of Europe". His solemn Sunday walks, "Monuments to the Anonymous
Forces of Love" and "I Ask for the Passport of the Man on the Move"
are in fact sub-project of this ten year project. Pausing from his walks in
cities, Mandic has given two series of lectures during the fifth and
this, the sixth, year of "The Rose of Wandering".

Mandic's three basic symbols are the road, the rose and wandering. He
defines the road as follows:

"The road is the largest man-made structure in this world. Man's
greatest achievement. Unlike houses, which eventually fall into ruins,
roads last forever. I have had some little experience of its tolerance
and wisdom. In ten years, I think I shall become an excellent student of

To Mandic, the rose is:

"A world of non-violence. Non-violence takes the greatest courage of
all, and that is why the rose is a hero. I think of the rose as a future
teacher of harmony. The rose is food for the soul."

He says the following of wandering:

"Wandering is inevitable, that is why I accept it. Wandering is the best
way of living and reaching certainty. The wanderings of The Rose of
Wandering are dedicated to all those who have been and still are
searching, all those who search and seek for others."

"Wandering is association, analogy, metamorphosis, metaphor.
Wandering is a quest for one's own self.
Wandering gives birth to the wanderer's luminous essence.
Wandering is the reliance of one's essence on wandering.
Wandering into a million-year-old past preparing ahead for a million
years of future.
Wandering is a book that is being written, painted and walked along.
Wandering is a church. A mobile shrine.
Wandering is discovering the center.
Wandering is the worship of the periphery.
Wandering is the Homeland.
I shall wander
- because "The Rose of Wandering" is my admiration of beauty on European
ground and it is also the incorporating of that beauty into Earth's
cosmic future. - because "The Rose of Wandering" is for me a mythological
journey towards a new form. Ten springs, ten summers, ten autumns and ten
winters. - because "The Rose of Wandering" is a prayer. A prayer to the
beauty of the rose, the wisdom of wandering and the sensuality of wandering."

The Rose of Wandering is on course. We can learn about this blue flower
which springs out of European ground by walking along with Miroslav
Mandic, picturing a virtual flower sprout from human footsteps,
visualizing the joys and experiences of this great wandering which is
reminiscent of Homer or Joyce, or reading the volumes of "The Rose of
Wandering" which are defined by Mandic as a novel, poetry, a journal and
a religious text.

"Poetry is beauty and gentleness. A novel is humor and music. A journal
is wisdom and sincerity. A mystical text is freedom and the divine."

These books give us the opportunity to wander ourselves, to read them in

a countless number of ways and adopt parts of it. For instance:

67. Walking

The lives of women and bridges along and over the Rhine. I get lost in
big cities like bread-crumbs do in a whirlwind, and the smell of all
those, who, like myself, crawl along this Earth clings to me, so much so
that, whether I want it or not, I am a man. This means that in some
years I shall disappear, along with everyone else, from the face of this
Earth. I am calm, I am here now. My groin feels warm. My soul is getting
warm inside my body. I hurry across the tracks in front of a streetcar.
Along the street, across the street and along the other side. It is so
wondrous simply to be.

Koeln, January 24th 1992

Text: Dragica Felja

Translation by Kristof Karolj Bodric

#  distributed via nettime-l : no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a closed moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime" in the msg body
#  URL:  contact: