POČIMALJA – she who starts the song

installation / video / objects / prints

The Počimalja project is based on the artist’s interdisciplinary research of the outsider, folk musical practice of tepsijanje (“panning”).

This custom of singing while manually turning a copper pan, practiced predominantly by women even to this day, originates from extremely patriarchal communities where women were generally discouraged from public performance and playing instruments. It is for this reason that women often resorted to using household objects as accompaniment to songs performed in the home, thus also opting for the tepsija. This ordinary cooking vessel has been emancipated over time and now the tepsija can be found in most catalogs of traditional music of the Balkans, under the category of idiophonic instruments.  

Raščić interprets the practice of tepsijanje as an authentic expression of suppressed feminine subjectivity and a proto-feminist gesture. Through her continuous artistic research, which she dubs Exoneration of Tradition, Raščić studies traditional forms and critically examines the ideas of folklore and folklorization as a means of repatriarchalization and neo-traditionalization of society, and reflects on the evolution of traditional forms, freeing them from the normative cultural context. While tepsijanje persists to this day due to its visual appeal in folk choreographies and its simplicity of performance, the artist focuses on the acoustic specificities of this practice, as well as on the conclusions, previous research, and field work of various ethnomusicologists and folklorists. She adopts and experiences her own practice of tepsijanje through collaboration with Azra Pondro, a storyteller, tepsija-player, and a počimalja, the chorister – the one who starts the song and whose voice presides over the sonic landscape of this project.

Počimalja is materialized as a complex multimedia installation comprised of several interconnected elements: a multichannel audio and video composition; carefully calibrated acoustics; kinetic objects; computer-guided automation – toggling and coordination of electronically controlled elements and lights; as well as works executed in classic art techniques – drawing, screen printing, painting on glass with verre églomisé. The way of experiencing the work is founded on a time-based dimension, the installation presents itself to the visitor as an event, as a 25-minute composition during which audio, video, kinetic objects and light create a synchronized ambient whose parts guide the visitor.

Through close readings of different fragments of traditional culture, primary sources or other cultural forms and records, the artist directly intervenes and gets involved. Thus infiltrated, she takes over the rules and protocols of the phenomena she is addressing and in doing so, she changes its narratives, accents, messages and values. In contrast to the naive fetishization of modernity in equating its forms with ideas of progress, Raščić wants to show that history also belongs to us. That in tradition there is resistance. That we have always been fighting in one way or another. That is why one of the goals of the Počimalja project is precisely the exoneration of tradition, its liberation from the patriarchal denominator, oppression and the normalization of the status quo.

– excerpts from texts by Ana Dević (2022) and Vladimir Vidmar (2021)

video: Vanja Babić
video: Vanja Babić


POČIMALJA – She who starts the song, 2022.
installation: kinetic objects, multi-channel video and sound, lights, automatization
dimensions variable

Programming, automatization: Branislav Štivić
Sound design: Hrvoje NikšićSinger: Azra Pondro
Sound recording: Hrvoje Nikšić, Haris Sahačić, Adnan Šahbaz
Cinematography (Psychedelic tepsija): Ivan Slipčević
Cinematography (Making of Gorgo): Adnan Šahbaz
Video editing: Lala Raščić
Coppersmith: Nermina Beba Alić
Carpenters: Marin Kovačević, Mehmed Halilović
Technical support: Vanja Babić

Verre églomisé – gold, silver, copper leaf and paint on glass
Three panels
each 55 x 120 cm

Verre églomisé – gold, silver, copper leaf and paint on glass
120 x 55 cm

portfolio of prints
25 x 35 cm
Edition of 30

From: Folk traditions in Yugoslavia – Ten tours (ed. Julijana Vučo)
Illustration: Zdenka Sertić
Pubisher: Izdavački zavod Jugoslavija

Thank you: Naila Ceribašić • Andreja Dugandžić • Nirha Efendić • Alma Gačanin • Amer Hadžić • Damir Imamović • Tamara Karača Beljak • Ivan Marušić Klif • Faruk Mehmedović • Iva Nenić • Amila Puzić • Arslan Raščić • Svetlana Slapšak • Jasmina Talam • Uno • Azmir Vatreš • Timothy Weeks