Tito/Tata: Fiction and Factuality in Documentary Photographs of the Father Figure in Communist Yugoslavia

Paula Muhr

The photographic series Tito/Tata and the accompanying essay examine the construction of the father figure in the public and private sphere in communist Yugoslavia. Through combined textual analysis of and artistic intervention on found documentary photographs of her own father as well as the country’s president, Josip Broz Tito, Paula Muhr explores the fictional potential of the purportedly neutral visual historical documents. She foregrounds the “optical unconscious” content of the documentary images, thus disclosing their role in the construction and the perpetuation of the country’s collective fantasy of the omnipotent yet benevolent patriarchal figure.

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PAULA MUHR is a Serbian-born, Berlin-based visual artist and researcher. She studied visual arts with a focus on photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Leipzig, Germany. In 2021, she completed her PhD at the Institute of Art and Visual History, Humboldt University in Berlin. Her PhD thesis is entitled “From Photography to fMRI: Epistemic Functions of Images in Medical Research on Hysteria.” The focus of her academic research, which is at the intersection of image studies, STS and history of science, is on examining knowledge-producing roles of various types of images in the context of natural sciences. In parallel, through her research-based artistic practice, Muhr examines socio-cultural strategies of constructing sexuality, gender, desire, and normality. Her work has been shown internationally, i.e. at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rijeka (Croatia), Fotogalerie Wien, Kunsthalle Leipzig, Fotogalleriet Format Malmö, Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes Tenerife, Centre national de l’audiovisuel Luxembourg, MAMAC Liege (Belgium), Einstein Forum Potsdam, and Shenzhen Fine Art Institute (China).

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