MEET KONSTRAKTA – THE SERBIAN POP PHENOMENON TAKING EUROVISION BY STORM

Multi-hyphenate artist Konstrakta is representing Serbia at this year’s Eurovision song contest with ‘In Corpore Sano’, which is Latin for ‘In a healthy body’.

With lyrics in Serbian and Latin – a first in Eurovision history – ‘In Corpore Sano’ is proving to be this year’s most intriguing entry. After winning Pesma za Evroviziju 22, Serbia’s selection for Eurovision 2022, Konstrakta’s performance went viral on YouTube, trending at #1 in seven countries, the song has spread through streaming platforms and has become a Twitter and Tik Tok favourite thanks to its performance meme-able hand washing, rhythmic hand clapping and chanting.

‘In Corpore Sano’ has bemused fans and critics, the song has caused almost media hysteria and became the target of tabloids and the subject of study among experts, with deep analysis being written by some of the biggest international media titles on the translation of the song’s opening lyrics “What could be the secret of Meghan Markle‘s healthy hair?”, to its reference to the famous Latin phrase extracted from the Satires of Juvenal “Mens sana in corpore sano”, which reminds us of the importance of mental as well as physical hygiene, with many interpreting the lyrics as a critique of healthcares system and a satirical commentary on unattainable beauty standards. The consensus is that there has been nothing quite like ‘In Corpore Sano’ at the Eurovision song contest before. Konstrakta’s examination of celebrity culture and the issue of universal healthcare, is a far cry from the traditional Eurovision’s pop ballad, flamboyant scenographies and flashy dance routine, with Konstrakta’s stage performance evoking the tradition of conceptual art by the Serbian artist Marina Abramović.

It’s an artistic performance that goes beyond simple musical entertainment and leads to reflect on the invisibility of artists in society, to the inaccessibility and costs of medical care, the role of the media and the relationship between physical and mental health, which has been severely tested during the COVID pandemic.

Talking about the song Konstrakta says: “it’s about our attitude towards health, both as individuals, as a society and as dominant oligarchies. We live in a world where health is set as the highest value, we are forced to be healthy, behind there’s a huge consumer pressure and a multibillion industry, most of the times we find ourselves having to spend our own money to be healthy, even for a healthy mind, quite often there is a lack of public support system, with people forced to follow wellness trends that guarantee good health”. “The artist is supposed to be healthy,” Konstrakta sings on the chorus of the song, it’s a reference to Abramović “Art must be beautiful… Artist must be beautiful…”, “I’t a conscious reference, it’s a useful background to emphasise the pressure that exists to maintain a healthy body. The artist must be healthy. Health insurance in the song is a metaphor for insecurity, for feeling unprotected and defenceless. Artists are invisible, are often self-employed or cannot always afford to pay for health insurance, not every country has a system of universal healthcare or a public health insurance scheme”.

About referencing Meghan Markle’s hair Konstrakta says; “Meghan Markle is representative of all those people in the media that we’re focused on. The line was inspired by a clickbait headline of an article about her hair. It had a sacred connotation as if you read it you will discover the secret of her healthy hair. Megan Markle doesn’t matter here, although we can all agree she has very beautiful hair, it only represents our society and the media’s obsession with beauty standards. She hasn’t contacted me yet, but I’d like for her to hear it!”

Speaking about what has been defined as a captivating stage performance – which sees Konstrakta dressed in white, seated centre stage washing her hands with an hypnotic gaze, her choir standing around her with towels ready to dry her hands – she explains: “We needed a compulsive aspect during the song, which we decided would be the washing of hands. I think that the staging can make an impact, especially when you dive into the lyrics.”

Konstrakta is the moniker of Belgrade born Ana Đurić, a former professional architect, turned songwriter, composer and vocalist. As a member of the critically acclaimed Serbian band Zemlja gruva (Land of Groove) she has performed at some of the biggest music festivals in Serbia and in the Western Balkans’ countries, including opening for international artists including Cee Lo Green and Nouvelle Vague, the band’s was also picked to open for Amy Winehouse’s final live concert in Belgrade in 2011. Transitioning into a solo career in 2020, Konstrakta approaches music with the same sense of multimedia and conceptual art of her Serbian compatriot and artistic inspiration Marina Abramović. Those who had not previously followed her work have found her authenticity and creativity refreshing and unique. ‘In Corpore Sano’ is part of the ‘Triptih’ project, which also includes the songs ‘Nobl’ and ‘Mekano’, all written by Konstrakta. Apart from socially relevant messages, the triptych also has a visual throughline, conceived and designed by Konstrakta.

‘In Corpore Sano’ signals the arrival of an iconoclastic artist, pushing Eurovision pop music boundaries to new artistic heights.

Konstrakta will represent Serbia at the Second Semi Final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest on Thursday 12 May.

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