Disaster Diary

For the installation Disaster Diary (2019), Prlja re-uses and adapts her earlier work Non Commercial Agency (2004), a project which conceptually re-examines the content of the information that newspapers offer to the public on a daily basis. The exhibited newspaper is designed and printed by the artist, as an interpretation of information published on one given day within London*s Metro newspaper. The areas shown as black fields in the artist’s newspaper, looks at the issue of the commercialisation of newspapers, by blacking out only the advertisements published in the original newspaper. 

With the new project, Disaster Diary, Prlja paints over the newspaper pages of her Non Commercial Agency with the dates and cities/regions where natural catastrophes have occurred in recent times. The increased number and frequencies of those disasters inspired the artist to follow and record the dates of those disastrous events, similarly to the way in which she recorded the amount of commercials in the Metro newspaper in 2004. 

This project is another of the projects where the artist ‘recycles’ her own artwork, in the attempt to avoid or limit the use of further, new materials in the process of creating new works of art.

Museum of Contemporary Art 2021
iary, 2019. Installation. Offset printed Newspaper, acrylic paint. 2.5x8m. as exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje. 2021. Photo by Robert Jankuloski.

Disaster Diary, 2019, (detail). Newspapers, acrylic paint. 41x31cm each page. Photo by Andrijana Tilic.
Diary, 2019. Installation. (Detail) Offset printed Newspaper, acrylic paint. 2.5x8m. as exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje. 2021. Photo by Robert Jankuloski.

About the project:

“…However, there is also a tendency of thought requiring that we keep up with the times and do not ignore problems and warnings, but take personal and collective responsibility instead. It is along these lines that the concept of the installation Diary of Disasters by Nada Prlja is articulated. As part of her exhibition entitled AdAN in the City of Fire (staged at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje, December 2019-March 2020), which advocates the model of appropriation as a procedure of artistic creation (appropriation, conversion, de-artification), in the Diary of Disasters she uses one of her older works form 2004 Non-Commercial Agency (designed as newspaper pages full of black fields only instead of news content, thus alluding to the commercial power of the ad to which all other content and values are subdued), on which she paints dates and places where natural disasters have occurred in the last two decades. 

This model of artistic creation refers to the unsustainability of the capitalist logic of production and reproduction in circumstances in which the catastrophe is spreading all over the place and when the sources that have thus far provided the driving force of social development are almost completely exhausted. If all our freedoms (including the freedom of artistic creation), all our values and civilisational (material and spiritual) achievements are based on the use of natural resources, then a need is imposed for a radical change in the use of material, technical possibilities and conditions that allow for the artistic creation itself as such.

If artistic techniques are not a separate, segregated area of procedures and means, but part of the techniques that the capitalist system organises and facilitates on the basis of the systematic use of natural and human resources, then the only way to be responsible is to change the mode of creation: no more use of new materials and means, but utilization of the existing ones, as Prlja claims…”

Text by Liljana Nedelkovska as catalogue text for an exhibition Panic Room or: Leap Into Thinking

Museum of Contemporary Art 2019
Disaster Diary, 2019. Installation, Offset printed Newspaper, acrylic paint. 2.5x15m. as exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje. 2019. Photo by Andrijana Tilic.
Disaster Diary, 2019. Installation, Offset printed Newspaper, acrylic paint. 2.5x15m. as exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje. 2019. Photo by Andrijana Tilic.
Disaster Diary, 2019. Installation, Offset printed Newspaper, acrylic paint. 2.5x15m. as exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje. 2019. Photo by Andrijana Tilic.
Disaster Diary, 2019. Installation, Offset printed Newspaper, acrylic paint. 2.5x15m. as exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje. 2019. Photo by Andrijana Tilic.