Tijana Stepanović: Burdens exposed


The age of innocence is over, if it ever existed at all. Humanity has acquired too much power to afford the comfort of abstaining from self-reflection. But looking ourselves in the face is an exhausting and unpleasant business. Some manage to put it off for a whole lifetime. The book you hold in your hand is a collection of existential moments of courage. It is a catalog of our fears and sorrows, approaching the topic not simply in a descriptive manner, but actively. In other words, it is a specimen of a productive type of art committed to society.
Ágnes Eperjesi calls us to protest. We're all familiar with protests and demonstrations. These gestures are frequently exploited and sometimes misconstrued. Yet, the central purpose of these protests is not lost. The difficulty is in finding a relevant way to express our protest. "Private Protest" seeks to find a path towards this more relevant expression. Here, we're not protesting in the usual manner against usual things. We are protesting against ourselves, and in this way, for ourselves.
Ági Eperjesi turned to those who were brave enough to take part in this protest. She asked them to face themselves and to write down on an imaginary picket sign what can't be changed – or what they think can't be changed – with regards to the burdens of their soul, the things they attempt to fight against, or which have been eating away at them their entire lives.
Many dared to read the words on their own signs. Each and every sign was the essence of a life. Each page in this book is a glimpse into a story. The reader has been presented with a great gift: a collection of honest human confessions, prompting one to act.
But let's get something straight: uttering our fears is not merely the external manifestation of an internal process, but action in itself; moreover, it's a kind that can't be easily revoked. It is expression that not only describes, states, or conveys information, but has action value in itself through performance.
These picket signs cannot be analyzed in the frame of a true/false dichotomy. For this reason, we cannot place them at a comfortable distance from ourselves and wave them away as we evaluate them; we are forced to face them as they stare right into our eyes. And often this is a spiritually difficult experience.
Of course there were those who tried to evade the task. They distanced their feelings from the "task" instead of looking at it as an opportunity. But these cases of elusion are not without lessons, and if we expose them, they carry the same weight as those signs which are cuttingly and mercilessly honest.
It is my duty to warn the reader: proceed only if you are prepared to face your own demons which you would rather hide from yourself for a good while longer. And if you've faced them, you can't pretend they don't exist any more. All that remains now is to begin our own private work, maybe by reading the words on our own picket signs of protest.