Influenced by the global crisis, which implies that the possible end may not be only imaginary, Nada Prlja poses a series of questions reflecting on our situation in the world today, while questioning what it means to be an artist today, through the form of a graphic novel.
The graphic novel is situated in the present (2020), but the novel occupies an imaginary time and represents conditions which are ‘fast forwarded’ to possible pre-apocalyptic times. In this graphic novel, people live underground, as pollution has made living overground imposible; no rules rule the world, where the values of camaraderie or coexistence, have been amputated from human feelings and behaviour. Instead, a sense of self preservation, as the most primitive urge, dominates the population. In this desperate future-possible space, Prlja creates Adan, her own alter ego, who as the superhero/heroine of this graphic novel, is forced to find appropriate alternative ways of working as an artist in the pre-apocalyptic times.
The graphic novel AdaN, a Call to Borrow, Reuse and to DeArtify through one pilot issue and three further episodes, could be read as a set of ‘instruction’, that proves that everyone could or should be a hero, in order to strive for and achieve a better common future – in other words, the only future possible.
A short description of the pilot issue and the three subsequent episodes of the graphic novel:
AdaN, a call to Borrow, Reuse and to DeArtify (Pilot issue)
The pilot issue illustrates the creation of the super hero AdaN, who is Nada Prlja’s alter ego. This pilot episode is inspired by the way in which artworks were created for the Venice Biennial 2019, as witnessed by the artist Nada Prlja (she was herself representing the Pavilion of North Macedonia for the Venice Biennial 2019, with her project entitled Subversion to Red). The amount of surplus materials, escalated production and promotion costs reaching unexpectedly high costs were used for representation of various National Pavilions at the Biennale, this made Prlja want to ‘scream’ out to her fellow artists: “Artists!… When are you going to change the conception and mode of production of your artworks?”. This is how AdaN was created, in an urge by Nada Prlja’s to redirect her own practice in a new direction, towards the adoption of more suitable methods of working as an artist today in these ‘almost end times’.
AdaN, a Call to Borrow (Episode 1)
AdaN’s call for artists to use/reuse the past works of other artists in order to refer to historical values, as a way to revive them within a contemporary context. This intention is conceived by AdaN in response to the fact that in this new society the existing value system is destroyed, due to the careless relation towards history and the constant acquisition of artworks (whose value is determined by pop/mainstream culture) and the necessity for the protection and revalorisation of those artworks/cultural artifacts.
Synopsis of this episode of the graphic novel: the episode illustrates the way in which the artwork Three Smart Heads has been created (see below). All elements of this artwork are ‘stolen’ – ‘ Head 1’: a work by Jordan Grabuloski, from the Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje. AdaN has allegedly stolen the artwork from the collection, so that the artwork cannot be sold at an auction or stolen by gangs. ‘Head 2’ is a ‘found object’ – an object found and recuperated from the street; ‘Head 3’ is a concrete cast of an old fashioned monitor, used as a door stop for a garage door. This episode recounts how new artworks should be created not by using new materials, but by reusing/borrowing, or even ‘stealing’ other objects, in order to create new forms and meanings, by maintaining the past within them.
(Coming out February 2020)
AdaN, a Call to Reuse (Episode 2)
Focus of Call to Reuse is the call for artists to reuse their own past artworks, by reshaping materials already used – a method which supports the use of already existing materials and fosters notion of creativity.
(Coming out March 2020)
AdaN, a Call to DeArtify (Episode 3)
AdaN, a Call to DeArtify refers to the creation of artworks, which carry the potential of self-destruction and the reuse of its materials, in order to support the notion of a ‘circular economy’ and the cycle of nature.
(Coming out April 2020)
AdaN, a call to Borrow, Reuse and to DeArtify (Pilot)
The graphic novel ‘AdaN, a call to Borrow, Reuse and to DeArtify’ is published in conjunction with the exhibition ‘AdaN, in the City of Fire’ (27.12.2019-21.02.2020), a solo exhibition by Nada Prlja at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje www.msu.mk.
Museum of Contemporary Art – Skopje
Director: Mira Gakina
Curator: Zoran Petrovski
*1. AdaN, call to Borrow, Reuse and to DeArtify pp. 20.