Bezimena (translated asnameless in most Slavic languages), a noir-style graphic novel/picture book for adults, is a modern-time rendition of the myth of Artemis and Siproites. Artemis is the virgin goddess of hunting and childbirth, daughter of Zeus. Her dominion are the mountains, rivers and ports. Siproites is a young man who Artemis turns into a girl as a punishment for the attempted rape of one of her virgin cohorts. There is very little written about this particular myth, with existing material mostly found in the form of footnotes and passing mentions. However, according to some sources, the act of rape happened in its entirety.
Dedicated to all the forgotten and nameless victims of sexual violence, the book is set against the artist’s lived experiences of displacement and social collapse witnessed during the wake of the break-up of Yugoslavia, and its suppressed histories of named and unnamedviolence. Making use of a classical myth as its point of departure, the artist weaves a story that functions as a parable breaking the silence on the most traumatic points relating to personal and collective histories.
The visual and narrative style of Bezimena is mostly influenced by the 1942 noir classic Cat People, Jean Cocteau’sOrpheus trilogy and the television drama The Singing Detective by Dennis Potter. As part of the 2nd Industrial Art Biennial, a selection of prints from the graphic novel Bezimena will be presented. The book will be published in August 2018 and distributed by Ici Même and Fantagraphics in April 2019.
Although Canadian born, Nina Bunjevac spent her formative years in Yugoslavia, where she began her arts education before returning to Canada at the onset of the war of the 1990s. She continued her education in graphic design at the iconic Art Centre of the Central Technical School in Toronto, subsequently graduating from the Drawing and Painting Department at OCAD. After a decade of pursuing a career in fine arts, she discovered a passion for narrative through her sculpture installation works, eventually returning to her childhood passion for comics.
Bunjevac has produced three graphic novels:Heartless, the New York Times bestselling novelFatherland, and Bezimena. Her art has been exhibited internationally, and her work has appeared in a variety of periodicals, such as Best American Comics, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Art Revue. Nina lives in Toronto, where she divides her time between comics, illustration, teaching and the fine arts.