In Search for Common Ground

Müasir İncəsənət Mərkəzi, Baku, Azerbaijan

26 – 31 October 2015

Curated by: Ana Frangovska and Bojana Janeva Shemova

Artists: NANEVSKi GOCE, STEVCESKA SLOBODANKA, NADA PRLJA, SEKOVSKI IGOR, SEMOV BORIS, SPASOSKI ALEKSANDAR, STOJANOVSKI KRUNISLAV TOSEVSKI IGOR

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The exhibition ‘In Search of a Common Ground’ questions the possible cultural positions and repositions of the Macedonian art scene. The on-going transition from one political system to another never seems to end and the complexity of a small and young country inevitably raises the questions of nationalism, identity, history, cultural products, sustainability, art policy, social awareness, human rights, etc. The exhibition aims to discern the changes induced by the modern living and the necessity of becoming part of the big European dream. The socio-political conditions in the Republic of Macedonia have changed rapidly after its independence in 1991. Mass globalization occurred and the transition affected the perception of national identity and its wider acknowledgment, as well as its existence and survival. We had war conflicts in the neighborhood, refugees, internal military confrontations, poverty… Afterwards, multiculturalism followed with strict divisions on national entities, religions, peace agreements. Macedonia became fertile ground for corruption, illegal trade, mafia, and political autocracy hidden under the false wings of democracy. The media are silenced (there is no independent and objective journalism), quasi-national feelings are fueled and manipulation is enforced in all social structures.

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Nada Prlja, Aliens Ltd., 2012, 4 T-shirts, hand painted slogans

In such conditions, the culture could not stay untouched. The general transition has infiltrated in the culture by nurturing false art values and standards, recreating new history of the history and culture of our society, censoring art projects that openly criticize, setting mediocrity as a criteria, and by many other small and large imbalanced situations typical for transitional and undefined system.
Which approach does the Macedonian artist choose to address these circumstances? The proposed exhibition is trying to give a visual outlook and to answer these issues through different individual approaches of the selected artists. Some of them are very engaged, some of them are just giving a comment, some of them are participatory, but all of them have an approach that defines the artists as socially included individuals. They address different aspects of the socio-political life that frustrates them and provokes them artistically. Boris Semov’s video Re-identification shows the cynical criticism of the systematic mechanisms of the socio-political organisms that deform the individualism and kill the personal ideals and goals. Igor Sekovski’s I wanna be your dog visually renders the modern man with no integrity who becomes loyal and obedient servant, losing his identity. The video art Eternal body by the art group OPA emphasizes the aspect of muteness, single-mindedness, and blind belief in quasi ideologies. Goce Nanevski’s It would be shame not to have snakes here deals with lexical puzzles touching upon various aspects of tradition, self-identification, gender interdependence, ownership, and being part of something. With his cognitive and metacognitive syntactic forgings, he inter-personalizes personal understandings, intellectual and practical skills, political and national problems, folklore values, etc. The solution of the puzzle is customized, so the recipient is thought a participant in Nanevski’s work. The wall mural The Shadows by Slavica Janaslieva speaks of our shadows both in metaphorical and literal sense, followed by silence, silence as behavior and attitude. The installation Aliens by Nada Prlja, consists of t-shirts with painted slogans on them. The slogans are a selection of derogatory words regarding migrant workers that the artists have found in the media. These are words and slogans used on a daily basis in the media and that serve (whether intentionally or subconsciously) to undermine and otherwise degrade individuals or groups of immigrants – civilians who do not belong to the countries’ native population.

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Aleksandar Spasoski’s video I am from Macedonia includes a socio-political connotation, trivializing the micro problem developing into macro banal political dimension instigating a state of Southeast Europe called Macedonia to change its constitutional name. The author through the video medium stages an ironic display of punishment because of his origin. The work is an expression of intolerance, but it also speaks against xenophobia and is a personal symbolic demonstration against chauvinism. Spin is a multimedia project by Radmila Onchevska in which she is visually playing with the aspects of the old and the new, in sense of the new ideology of creating new history of the transitional states – particularly Macedonia, and its relation with the new capitalism and coding. The engaged approach in the installation Blood Is Thicker Than Water, the Water Is Red, Red Is a Color by Maja Kirovska materializes her spontaneous thoughts while considering the cyclical processes of things that surround her. She observes the relationship between natural and artificial, organic – inorganic, plant – animal – man… and where is love? The work The last memory by Velimir Zernovski through multi-media, subtle and intimate narrative research continues to consider the complex mutual relations of self and other. Igor Toshevski’s project Territories is a work in progress (ongoing) that started in 2004. The work consists of the Declaration of Free Territory as well as the actual outlining of the Territory. Within its borders, any activity or object is declared a work of art. The Territory is temporary, and its lived history is documented…

Ana Frangovska and Bojana Janeva Shemova

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