Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, UK
Curated by: Jon Blackwood
Artists: Darko Aleksovski, Vladimir Jancevski, Verica Kovacevska, OPA, Natasa Nedelkova, Nada Prlja, Igor Toševski and Aleksandar Spasoski
Video Art in the Republic of Macedonia began to be made in second half of the 1980s. In this late period of the former Yugoslavia, video was experimental in nature and came about largely through collaboration with state television. In these years video equipment was very expensive and not easily accessible to everyone. Video art became quite commonplace in the first years of independence, from 1991 onward. At this time cheap and easily available video technology, and an art world much better funded both by government and by NGOs, meant that many artists were able at least to experiment with the medium. The videos that you see in this exhibition date from 2006 onward. This is a significant date, as it was the year in which the government of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski came to power. Gruevski’s conservative political party, VMRO‐DPMNE, have dominated Macedonian politics ever since. A key tactic from Gruevski’s government was to launch a policy of “antiquization”; the transformation of Macedonia’s capital, Skopje, and other larger towns by means of neoclassical and baroque aesthetics, in the “Skopje 2014” scheme. Consequently, the visual appearance of Macedonian towns and cities has been altered fundamentally in the last decade. Nearly six hundred million euros has been spent on this grandiose scheme, in one of Europe’s poorest countries.
The consequences of Skopje 2014 have been felt widely in contemporary culture, bitterly dividing artists. The contributors to this show have been chosen as using video in one of three ways; to critique the prevailing political and social imperatives of contemporary Macedonia; to document either the making of art work or its production and discussion; to retreat into the imagination as a means of escaping a troubled, contested and highly volatile political sphere. With no real market for critical or contemporary art in Macedonia, the audience for such work is found largely abroad‐ amongst audiences such as yourself. This show invites you to enter a parallel reality, and imagine a profoundly different and challenging socio‐political context at the other side of the continent. This is a show that challenges contemporary notions such as “nation”, “identity”, “ethnicity”, transition and neoliberalism, in a very specific local context.