_much like the sound of water_
_a second before boiling_
_so I hear the thriving of our plants_
_some words are so tender_
_that we keep them in greenhouses_
_should we let them in on it, Mama?_
_the language of plants_
_has nothing to do with where you’re from_
-- Radmila Petrović, The Language of Plants (excerpt) *
It is said that, “inat” is something unique for the people from my country.
I don't mean to glorify “inat” as it is the case (here) too often, but I have to admit it is an odd sensation to recognize it in my actions and be able to name it and precisely pinpoint it. “Inat” could be found everywhere in the world, as it is, at times, a motivating spirit that pulls the best out of you in the worst of circumstances.
The word itself derives from the Turkish (and, before then, Arabic) language of the Ottoman Empire and the closest translation I found, refers to “an attitude of proud defiance, stubbornness and self-preservation - sometimes to the detriment of everyone else or even oneself.”** But for me it bears even more emotional complexities, (for me it also means a) positive motivation for digging into your forgotten strength to accomplish a goal or set a new, higher bar.
In my case, “Inat” will often surface when I realize I was either taking things for granted or being too comfortable in my surroundings.
I delve into the symbolism encapsulated within the perceptions of botanical gardens, glasshouses and glass ceilings***. These metaphors, filled with societal implications, serve as powerful lenses through which I try to augment the emotions. At the same time, duality is present in both this structure seen as sanctuary where aspirations flourish, foster resilience, but also as embodiment of intangible barriers that confine and restrict.
By exploring the coexistence of generative glasshouses with imposed constraints and wild but controllable plant structures, I explore the resilience and determination required to transcend societal expectations and the idea of breaking free through incremental changes, slow and steady growth.
And when obstacles grow, “inat” sparks.
_poput zvuka vode_
_sekundu pre ključanja_
_tako čujem bujanje naših biljaka_
_neke su reči toliko nežne_
_da ih čuvamo u plastenicima_
_da li da im otkrijemo, mama?_
_nema veze s tim odakle ste_
-Radmila Petrović, poem *Jezik bilja* from the poetry collection *Moja mama zna šta se dešava u gradovima* (2020), published by PPM Enklava
-English translation by Jovanka Kalaba and edited by Ellen Elias-Bursa
** Dragan Milovic [London’s Institute of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies.], 2004
*** A glass ceiling is a metaphor usually applied to people of marginalized genders, used to represent an invisible barrier that prevents an oppressed demographic from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy.