Ljubomir Šimunić (b. 1942) is an outsider’s outsider, though his work has garnered some attention in recent years. In the 1970s, he began making amateur films on his own, without the support of the amateur film clubs popular across Yugoslavia, and showed them only to friends in private rooms and apartments. To date, his films, of which Pression is the earliest, have been shown publicly only a handful of times, and the screening of Pression in Washington marks Šimunić’s US premiere.
Šimunić’s working method is markedly different from that of any other amateur presented in this series. His films are, like many shot with 8 mm cameras, all edited in-camera—for Pression, Šimunić used a Normal 8 Kodachrome. Unlike most amateur films, however, which were usually made very quickly, Šimunić’s were shot over longer periods of time, sometimes years, with Pression taking the longest of his five films to make. Working with his friend Dragan Taubner, the filmmaker used color film reels that could record approximately four minutes of footage each and which he kept in a refrigerator for months or years, painstakingly double exposing select frames over time to achieve resonant overlappings. These combined, on the one hand, footage of everyday people and events around Belgrade shot on foot and from a car during day and night and, on the other hand, garish spectacles, movies, and ads, both Yugoslav and Western, that he shot from a flickering TV screen. According to Šimunić, his interest in double exposure was “an attempt to prove in and by art the current scientific facts which [claim] that only a small part of [the] human brain is exposed and able to accept [the flow of] information."”