“Jagoda Kaloper in the Mirror of the Cultural Screen,” a book about my mother’s art film “Woman in the Mirror” has just been published. Only few months ago, she celebrated her 66th birthday by opening a new exhibition. There were hundreds of people, lots of journalists and the exhibition received great reviews from art critics. Yesterday, she had a 45 minutes interview on Croatian National Television. She talked about her life – but what really impressed me was her talking about age and how she feels better now than she did when she was young. Yes, I am in love with my mom. I believe I have all reasons to be: She is the most caring, loving and supporting mother in the world (don’t get me wrong, she’s not perfect) but she is also a very strong, independent, successful woman – the kind of woman we would like our daughters to look up to. Mama Jagoda started acting (accidentally) when she was 17, had a huge career on film, won all awards that could be won back then in Yugoslavia, received offers from US agents. Parallel to this, she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb and started creating and regularly exhibiting her very innovative and thought-provoking art. She pursued both careers, but also did dozens of other successful things such as designing and illustrating books (for which she also won awards), doing industrial design, graphic design, creating jewelry and toys, painting. She even had an office job for 10 years, as a graphic designer for a magazine. And she was always actively helping the weaker: She donated her award money for medication for African children and flew to Africa to make sure medication and food reached them long before Angie made it trendy. She actively fought for women’s rights. She always helped elderly. And she can’t resist feeding cats and hedgehogs in the park next to her house. She's not a superwoman - she did have some slower phases in her life. But then three years ago, she made her first art film and completely reinvented herself. The film won awards, was screened at many international festivals and brought her back into spotlight. She is now preparing a new exhibition and a new film.
In this society celebrating eternal youth, it is wonderful to witness what age can mean, especially to a woman. What it means to live, to experience, learn, to digest, think through, connect and create. It is a treasure our society decided to stop recognizing - we used to ask the older people, whom we considered wise in all cultures, for advice and help. Mama recently told me that ten years ago, she couldn’t have created things she is creating now, which have proven to be her best art.
And yes, she wasn’t always on time, sometimes she wasn’t there, and often there were no dinners waiting. I didn't bring prepared lunches to school. But she gave me so much more. It is truly inspiring to witness her reinventing herself and giving so much to the world at the age when people retire and believe they are too old, too tired or too wrinkled to ad anything.
Thank you, mama!
P.S. And few weeks ago, I saw Blondie live. Debbie Harry is 68 but her pure, honest talent, her presence and her energy are as breathtaking as ever. Her performance was simply amazing. Thank you for the inspiration, ladies!
P.P.S. Since the age of 17, mama was admired for her beauty. She never had plastic surgery. Not even Botox. Having spent two years in Hollywood, I respect her enormously for that and felt it needs to be mentioned.
Link to the TV interview: HTV