An essay on Siniša Vlajković’s “Genius Loci” series by Zoltán Somhegyi*

Being “out of time”. As if being able to stop time, and thus linger between particular temporal positions. But this being out of time and in-between temporal stances also provides the possibility of observation and comparison. This is what happened with the Serbian photographer Siniša Vlajković, during his extensive road trips around the United Arab Emirates at the turn of the millennium.

The artist’s original intention of portraying everyday-life in the region soon turned into a journey of self-discovery. Hence the images document a visual diary of a double voyage - a physical one, forward in space, discovering new places, and an inner one, backward in time, rediscovering similar elements from childhood memories of his home country of former Yugoslavia. He suddenly discovered himself being in-between his future-oriented present and his past, and this resulted in the carefully composed works of the series entitled Genius Loci (2006 -2012).

In this way, we, as viewers, can examine Vlajković’s artworks on two different levels: on the one hand, they can be observed as artistic representations of the everyday-life in the Middle East – documents that are often very different than the ones seen in mass media reportage, but on the other hand, we can also contemplate them on a “meta-level”. We can also learn from and learn through these photographs, what it means to be “out of time”: how to find scenes, views, details and motifs that can remind us of our own past – in the different context of our present. In other words, when being “out of time”, we can develop the sensitivity of discovering elements that connect the various temporal stages of our personal existence, which can help us in the never-ending endeavor of building our own cultural identity. Just like for the artist himself, for us too, being “out of time” will be inspirational and essential for our self-understanding.

* Dr. Zoltán Somhegyi is a Hungarian art historian, teacher and writer based in the UAE, currently working as an Assistant Professor at the College of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Sharjah.


Viktor's Bird, Umm Al Quwain, UAE, 2011

Tank Top, Ajman, UAE, 2012

High Maitenance, Ajman, UAE, 2011

Wonderland, Dubai, UAE, 2012

Trojan Dinosaurs, Dubai, UAE, 2012

Hello & Goodbye, Fujairah, UAE, 2006

Under Construction, Dubai, UAE, 2006

Les Parapluies de Fujairah, Fujairah, UAE, 2011

Tall, Grande, Super, Supreme, Umm Al Quwain, UAE, 2011

Rain Dance, Ajman, UAE, 2011

After the Storm, Ajman, UAE, 2011

The Drawings on the Wall, Ajman, UAE, 2011

Starscapes, Ajman, UAE, 2011

Jaws Roundabout, Fujairah, UAE, 2012

Across the Beach, Ajman, UAE, 2011

Bathers in the Storm, Ajman, UAE, 2011