World Conceptual Artists and their Key-Pieces, 1 - Dušan Rodić

Dušan Rodić is a conceptual artist, originally from Beograd, Serbia.  He makes sculptures that invite people to make use of them. ‘In creating sculptures I seek for social interaction and playful involvement. One of the key aspects of my work is to include a utility function within the piece, by creating this space I engage the spectator into a debate.’

Rodić's work is characterized by a poetic pragmatism through which sustainability and technology merge with art. Asked for his central theme, Dušan says: ‘My central theme is Life. When I am thinking about a project I reduce things to what is really important. Then I come to the conclusion that in the end only life is important. I try to emphasize this value through my work.’

A Pyramid of straw and clay

‘Basically life is the only thing you have. If you lose life, you lose everything. Life is important for everyone. Along with the importance of life comes the idea of freedom. Freedom to live your life as you want it to live.’

There is no Key Piece is his work. ‘All the pieces had to do something with my getting concious of the importance of life. I was a lesson that I had to learn. It’s the lesson of the value of self development and self realisation.

He is working now in the Amsterdam harbour area on a Pyramid he makes of straw and clay. Behind the Tierrafino factory there is a BMX course, a track for bicycle races. The terrain is an open space between the industry buildings. In the first two weeks of the summer holidays Rodic and Tierrafino – a factory of loam and clay paint – will organize workshops on and around the Pyramid.


The government wants the terrain to be used by the young people of the neighbourhood. Students of a building school who do their practicum at Tierrafino designed benches which will be built next year by students on the BMX course. The pyramid-workshop will be the start-up of this project.

‘When I work on this pyramid there is a lot of things that happen along the way. I observe all these things and I have to adapt to material, straw, clay and weather. This puts me in a certain mood. When I am in this mood I come to myself.’

Dušan Rodić was a student of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy (2006-2010) and after that he was a resident at the Rijksacademie voor Beeldende Kunsten (2012-2013). ’Before I did videoproduction in Beograd. I followed the film and tv school in Beograd, seven / eight years I worked in videoproduction. After that I worked at the Mediterranian office of Greenpeace in Malta. The office connected countries like Cyprus, Turkey, Israel and Lebanon. In 2004 I came to Holland.’

Beeps of the heart

‘When did you start as an artist?’ ‘Since the moment I started calling myself an artist. This is connected to an event. I went snowboarding in France in 2007. There I fell from a 50 meter high cliff. I broke both legs. After what seemed to be a considerable time people came. A docter asked: ‘Name?’, ‘Profession?’ ‘Conceptual Artist’, I said. It was the first time. ‘What kind of artist?, Sculptor? , Painter?’. ‘No, my ideas.’ He started laughing.

Rodic found himself back at the operation table. ‘I was connected with electrocardiographic apparatus. The beeps of my heart were the only thing which was connecting me to reality. It was the only thing that mattered. Since that time I want to work with basic life necessities: food, water, shelter and energy.’

Artistic philosophy

‘I kind of agree with the idea for which  Socrates gave his life for. I see life as a journey of learning processes and self development. On this journey you have to follow science and intuition. In school education you are taught what is good and wrong, but if you listen to this only you loose the essence of life. You have to learn yourself. Socrates said that hate, anger and suffering belongs to ignorance. Once you are on the ‘road of knowledge’ you don’t need a systeem to protect you from evil. Being an artist, art gives me the space to work on my life and to make a journey to develop myself.’

Experiencing life as an artist

‘The problem with art is that the function of an artist in society is not really recognized  like it is for a docter, a lawyer or a mechanic. Their role is clear.  The role of an artist is not that clear. That's why artists are sometimes called dreamers. When I meet people of other fields, for instance at a dinner with marketing people and managers, there is a divison. In the conversation I have to be careful. So that I don’t become a weirdo. From the other hand: artists are among themselves a closed society. When I wear a suit among artists, they will tell me that I am a businessman. I like to break this divison. I want to work with companies and artists, being inbetween both groups.




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