lucas bjelos 

Avoid Baksuz, 2021
Watercolor and pencil on raw canvas, 30x40 inches
artist statement

A cryptic message engraved on a Whac-A-Mole arcade game: Find Maler, Avoid Baksuz. If the viewer decides to Google it, they’ll find two translations—the German word “maler” to “painter (blue-collar)”; the Serbo-Croation word “baksuz” to “jinx (bad luck).” So, fully translated: Find Painter, Avoid Jinx.
I’m Serbian, and I’m using the Serbian definition of maler. Regardless, Google still translates it to “painter (blue-collar)”. However that is an incorrect translation—a result of its usage in German/other languages. In Serbian, the word for a blue-collar painter is “moler”; “maler” actually translates to: jinx, bad luck. This is not possible to find out on Google, so only a Serbian speaker would be able to identify the text as: Find Jinx, Avoid Jinx.

In this way, the text becomes a trap. Those who are overly curious will go off in search of a painter, unsuspecting that a crooked contradiction awaits instead. Used as a slight warning clue, Whac-A-Mole was chosen for its espionage jargon of “kill a spy.” Additionally, the game’s linguistic styling of Whac(k) parallels the implication of a missing letter in Mole(r).