Flea markets are often places of marginal/alternative economic activity, which allows them to become alternative spaces for the reappropriation and reinterpretation of sociocultural meanings by cultural minorities. It is this particular sociocultural aspect of flea markets that is the focus of my project. My intention is to document objects of popular culture that are being sold at markets whose customers are predominantly Latino and African American to reveal the ways that these minorities assert their cultural identities. Whether it is the objects themselves that convey new meaning (such as the painting of the Buffalo Soldiers, which calls for a reinterpretation and recognition of the role of the black people in the mainstream historical narrative), or the use of objects that signifies a variant meaning (for instance, images of popular Mexican religious iconography that have a different meaning here than they would in Mexico and therefore become acts of reclaiming one’s right to cultural difference), the process of creating or reinterpreting these meanings in popular culture is never simple—it is a complex, dynamic, and often humorous, interplay of multiple, often contradictory, meanings through which, indirectly, the social power relations can be questioned, reinterpreted, tested, and reinvented.

Nina Paukovic was born in Zagreb, Croatia, and graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Zagreb with a degree in art history and French. Nina has worked as a freelance translator for various publishing houses, magazines, and non-governmental organizations in Croatia. Since 2000, she has lived in France, where she works as an administrative assistant at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Nina Paukovic earned the Certificate in Documentary Arts at the Center for Documentary Studies in December 2011.

Read more about the fall 2011 Certificate in Documentary Arts graduates and their projects at cdsporch.org/archives/9595 .

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