“(Umetnica) mora biti zdrava” [(L’artista) deve essere sana] is the warning and call for everyone’s responsibility on the issue of health launched by the Serbian artist Konstrakta, who will perform on the stage of the next “Eurovision Song Contest” in Turin. We interviewed her
The song “In a healthy body “Will represent Serbia at ‘Eurovision’ this year , the famous international music festival that will be held in Turin from May 10 to 14. The piece, written by Serbian artist Ana Đurić, alias Konstrakta, which won the national competition “Pesma za Euroviziju 2022”, and reached the first places of approval in all the countries of the former Yugoslavia, then jumping to the top also in the listening charts of half of Europe, is a reference in words and music to the famous Latin phrase taken from the Satires of Juvenal “Mens sana in corpore sano”, which reminds us of the importance of mental hygiene accompanied by physical hygiene.
At home, Konstrakta delighted more than one, confused some and certainly did not leave the passionate public indifferent. Her song caused almost media hysteria and became the target of tabloids and the subject of study among pundits. For many viewers, the fact that “In a healthy body“To win on the usual pop-folk songs present in competition is the signal of the awakening of a “worthy” Serbia, according to others it could even be an event harbinger of political and governmental upheavals, which the recent elections have not, however, followed.
“The performance, extremely clever and at the same time witty and funny, has a fantastic ‘hook’ that we all sang about after the first semi-final. Everyone was going around and singing ‘biti zdrava’ (to be healthy)…”, he commented. for example composer Marko Kon, while Ljiljana Zdravković, journalist and musician, believes that Ana’s great merit was to have presented herself on stage with her style and lyrics “without any recipe to please the average consumer of Serbian music which expects, especially from Eurosong, a bit of beauty and a bit of sex, a bit of kafana, Turkism and traditional Serbian sound in a “mystical” show designed to shock just to shock”.
Admittedly, artistic performance, which goes beyond the dimension of simple musical entertainment and leads to reflection on various issues, from the invisibility of artists in Serbian society to the inaccessibility and cost of medical care, from the pernicious role of the media to relationship . between bodily health and mental hygiene put to the test in these pandemic years, ends with a question that concerns us all: “Mens infirma in corpore sano Animus tristis in corpore sano Mens desperata in corpore sano Mens conterrita in corpore sano Corpus je sanus i šta ćemo sad?” A weak mind in a healthy body A sad soul in a healthy body A desperate mind in a healthy body A scared mind in a healthy body The body is healthy and what do we do now?.
Still incredulous and despite a busy schedule Ana, who has just signed a contract with the local representative of the global label “Virgin Music Label”, found the time to answer some of our questions.
On stage you appear seated in a white coat and throughout the performance you insistently wash your hands in a basin full of water… is the reference to Covid clear?
To tell the truth, the question of health was in my head even before. Covid only emphasized a few things and made body care a top priority. The inspiration of the song is the relationship we have with health as individuals, society, ruling oligarchies.
The song begins with the verse in which we wonder what the secret to healthy hair is for Meghan Markle, wife of Prince Harry (Koja li je tajna zdrave kose Megan Markl?) Why her?
Meghan is not as prominent as Meghan, although she belongs to the target audience I am referring to. There are really texts on the Internet about the health of her hair and I don’t think they’re saying practically anything. It is therefore not Meghan who counts but the atmosphere that reigns in the media, full of articles that only promise health and well-being if we use tricks, buy what we are offered, follow tendencies…
The passage contains several messages, the state of the health system in Serbia, today’s society in which form takes precedence over being… At one point you say that “Velika je sreća što postoji Autonomni nervni sistem Ne moram kontrolisati otkucaje srca Srce kuca, srce samo kuca Bože zdravlja, Bože zdravlja, Bože zdravlja “(It’s a great chance that the autonomic nervous system exists I don’t have to check my heartbeat My heart beats, my heart beats only God gives me health) …
The moment an individual is left alone to take care of himself, he is relieved that there is at least something he is not responsible for, that he does not have to control. Modern society is based on the transfer of trust. And today, often, this transfer and this trust are called into question. So as far as I’m concerned, I believe in nature, I trust the structure of nature.
There is a connection between the double message of your song “Umetnica mora/može biti zdrava” (The artist must/may be healthy) and Marina Abramović’s well-known performance repeating “Art / The artist must be handsome “?
His work, to which I consciously refer, has been useful as a subtext to underline the pressure that exists on the issue of maintaining a healthy body, and I could say even young … The artist must be healthy , also because we are left to our own devices. The “must” therefore refers to the pressure that exists to do something to stay healthy, a kind of repression I would say. The “may” rather refers to common sense. Health is represented as a value of life and requires enormous expenditure. We talk about health as something that is completely in our control, only if we do it or buy it, we follow a new trend, we listen to this advice… The assumption that “we have to be healthy” puts us under pressure and frightens us; on the other hand, it is possible to attain a common-sense attitude in which health is somehow under our control and for which, therefore, illness and ultimately death are accepted with less fear.
In another passage you say “O kako da me prate Da o meni brinu Umetnica je nevidljiva” (How do they follow me The Artist is invisible to take care of me) and then you admit that you yourself have not health insurance (Nemam knjižicu )? It’s true?
The health insurance in the song is a metaphor for insecurity, feeling unprotected and helpless. My personal story is not that important, although it is true that I don’t have a health card because the Serbian health system does not provide free health care to artists. So we are invisible and I wonder who will take care of me. Health is highly valued today and the message that health equals youth is also conveyed in bizarre ways. On the one hand, we are baffled by a mountain of proven and unsubstantiated things that promise health. By following them, we enter the vast realm of consumption and pay out of pocket as support from the national health system becomes scarce and health care becomes increasingly inaccessible and expensive. Even with health insurance, therefore, we are in a situation where we have to pay much more often than not to take any type of examination. And not everyone can afford it.
What kind of reaction do you expect from the public in Italy?
We will not translate the text and we will sing in Serbian language without subtitles, because unfortunately they are not allowed; I hope we can hold the attention of the public who will hear the piece for the first time that evening. I don’t know what to expect, in principle I don’t think about it and do what I feel, no matter how it will be received.
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