PRECARITY HAS A CHANCE: Public spaces in movement (toward)
curated by Ivana Vaseva
16.06.2023 - 25.07.2023
Aleksandra Petrushevska Ristovska. Two chairs, 2019/20, oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm
Filip Jovanovski. Domche (perhaps) the smallest brutalist building in the world, 2021- prints of a scenario in 12 frames made for a performative installation in public space, produced in 2022
Iskra Dimitrova. 16:16, 2023, performance, sound and video, 5’
OPA (Obsessive Possessive Aggression). Complaint Box, 2012, interactive object
Dorotej Neshovski. Childhood, 2023, installation, 158 х119 cm
Natasha Nedelkova. Erecting Tenderness, 2021, video, color, sound, 10’49’’
Oliver Musovik. A Balancing Act, 2016, video, 1’28”
Shqipe Mehmeti. Untitled, 2023, mixed media (drypoint, drawing), 72 x 52 cm
Verica Kovacevska. Filling The Void, 2022, audio guide, 1h, video, 7’14’’
Gjorgje Jovanovik. The Multipurpose Rucksack, 2014, object, wood, fabric and bangles, 90 x 30 x 2 cm, inkjet print 2-sided, 50 x 70 cm
Slavica Janešlieva. Immigrant, Emigrant or Maybe I, 2016, 160 x 70 x 8cm, sleeping bag, 2 700 drawing pins and 12 kg bonbons produced in "Evropa" (candy factory)
Hristina Ivanoska. Document Missing: Performance no. 5 (three actions), 2017, HD video, 5’45''
Elena Chemerska. Fly Lokubija Fly / Fatherland: A Monument to Freedom, 2022, two-channel video installation
Dita Starova-Qerimi. Existence, 2013, mixed media, 142 x 110 cm
Nikola Uzunovski. An Archipelago of Temporary Floating Habitats, 2023, prints from the research process 100 x 370 cm
Dragana Zarevska and Gjorgji Despodov. Queen of Something, 2022, installation, base, 50 x 80 x 100 cm, 3d figurines from plexiglass
Velimir Zernovski. Confutatis - What Are Heroes Made Of?, 2022, performance presented at Manifesta 14 in Prishtina
Produced by Faculty of things that can’t be learned – FRU in partnership with Structura Gallery in the frames of AKTO 18 festival for contemporary arts and 20 years of DENES award. Supported by Trust For Mutual Understanding (TMU), New York
The rapid shrinking of public space amid global capitalism is directly damaging the emergence of the public sphere and, consequently, the public person. The atomization and subsequent privatization of public spaces depoliticizes everyday life and changes whole contexts and ecosystems in the post-truth era.
The neoliberal urban restructuring in post-socialist societies has shrunk and transformed public spaces to sites for passive reception of consumerist and nationalist messages rather than being places for nurturing democratic political subjectivities.
Artists have always tended to enter contested and polarized grounds, to set the stage for the public to emerge, to imagine “new ways of operating” in the formal rules and “disciplinary structures” as de Certeau’s tactics… And, this selection is precisely that – different artistic endeavors that reclaim and redefine the public sphere and the public space by creating tactics for its re-conquest and access for the precarized and silenced. These art practices can create public space anew through the struggles for the rights and in close relation with the social movements or even stimulate them in times when it seems that they are weak.
Some of them are going to the public space (once) belonging to the community or the neighborhood, and together with the local residents they try to evoke the memory of solidarity and togetherness and to reestablish the significance of the public anew, while calling for reparation. Such is the case with the former communal – now privatized building Domche in Filip Jovanovski’s work, then the erection of a wall in Berlin by Nada Prlja, the significance of cultural heritage for a better future through the narrative of one modernist building and the surrounding buildings designed by architect Frano Gotovac in Split in Verica Kovacevska’s work, through the public actions for the preservation of a local street and its ecosystem as a collaboration with the neighbors in Przhino by Iskra Dimitrova, to the neglected public space as a monument dedicated to the freedom in Kochani in Elena Chemerska’s work, and public children parks and the disappearance of playgrounds and subsequent changes in the children’s games as in Dorotej Neshovski’s work.
Others tackle social issues and are in solidarity with the underprivileged and marginalized, jointly creating temporary (public) spaces in the city and its institutions. In her work, Slavica Janeslieva reflects on the underprivileged position of migrants though her own personal lens. In the work The Roma, Oliver Musovik focuses on their game that creates another space at a time of big protests against authoritarianism, as well as against privatization, Velimir Zernovski creates a platform to give voice to people with atypical development and their artistic potentials, Hristina Ivanoska strengthens the feminist voice in our society though a critical perspective and through this practice challenges the existing narratives thus creating different public space, while Dita Starova Qerimi explores the medium of painting to give focus on the women’s position in a patriarchal society and motivates her to fight for a better future.
And, there is a third gateway that continues to fight against the contemporary threats of disillusionment created by illiberal governments in late capitalism, such as the fake feeling of democracy and freedom of expression and speech also resulting directly from diminishing the public and the public space, as well as by using irony. This can be seen in the work by OPA, the fake feeling of security and belonging, especially in the era of post-truth and fake news as in Natasha Nedelkova’s work which talks about the current environment of toxicity in nature and media, the different models to present defiance against the shrinking of so many rights – freedom of speech, freedom of public expression and freedom of public space as in Gjorgje Jovanovik’s work, or even becoming apocalyptical in the isolated, dehumanized and speechless public building’s interiors of the specific Yugoslav socialist modernism in Aleksandra Petrushevska Ristovska’s paintings, and the post-human apocalyptical landscape that Dragana Zarevska and Gjorgji Despodov are introducing through the perspective of the persona/phenomenon of queen(ness) .… while Nikola Uzunovski envisions platforms for people, animals and plants in the face of the alarming climate changes and urgent need to preserve the biodiversity and natural resources.
This selection brings together various voices that have expressed dissatisfaction with and defiance against the suppressive mechanisms and geometries of power and exclusion, and acquire visibility and power to transform implemented policies. They are sometimes indirectly relational and sometimes collaborational, but if simultaneously executed and articulated, they present an opportunity to form micro public spaces in movement of an imaginary (artistic) community that would re-establish the public.
The selected works in this research are located in the intersection between art, activism and sometimes include research in architecture and urbanism, sociology and anthropology, law and the rule of law… They are strongly embedded in the local context(s), although talking about global processes that are familiar to other distant places; they are intersubjective and collaborative, where the aesthetic quality is mixed with the ethical one. In different proportions, all the works try to publicly and loudly show that public space is an important element of democracy, and is not something solid but a changeable asset that should be constantly demanded. They are important critical responses to that reality, and bring the potential for its re conquest through the constant presence, contestation and perpetuation of the discourse that a living and inhabited public space is essential for a democratic process.