Friday, 7 October 2011

Skopje again and 9. Biennial of young Macedonian artists

Installation view of the Biennial at MoCA
So, today's my last day of another very busy short spell here in Skopje. I have had good meetings and discussions every day since I've been here, and new possibilities do appear to be opening out ahead of next year.

I wound up my affairs in Belgrade last Thursday. The week flashed by very quickly after my lecture: I met some interesting private collectors in the Serb capital last Tuesday, who have a really representative and very broad collection of Yugoslav art from the 60s through to the 80s. I also had meetings with a couple of artists from that period.

Having bunkered down in Belgrade for three weeks, it felt a little odd to be leaving, but I was impatient to be back in Skopje again. As well as meeting various artists and pals in the last few days, there was also the opportunity to catch the Biennial of Young Macedonian Artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was a varied exhibition of work around the politically neutral theme of still life.

Kristina Božurska, Zoomed Still Life, 2010 / 11
Two or three individual pieces really stood out in this show. Kristina Božurska's Zoomed Still Life was reminiscent of a late 80s Christian Boltanski, featuring over 300 little metallic cubes, arranged into a rectangle on the wall. Each individual cube is rusted away and is part of some crushed-up industrial debris; this piece, then, functions as the ultimate recycling of material in a post-object state; the rehabilitation of practical objects at the end of their lives, into a new and unexpected art-object phase: a kind of discarded readymade.

Filip Jovanovski, Still Life: The Cabinet of Professor Velimir Veličkovski: 24 Allegories to Explain the World, 2011

 Filip Jovanovski, whose work in progress I had seen on my last visit to the gallery,has made a real success of his "living still life", above. The installation is really well put together and has an intriguing range of objects, from a black and white portrait of Tito, through several of the professor's own paintings and books, to ephemera and tat from the 1970s and 1980s. It raises the question not only of the still life as object, but of the role of the still-life object in helping to build up a portrait of an individual. Of course, using the object to convey an aspect of the sitter's character, that cannot be conveyed by the image of the face and hands etc, has long been a tool of the portraitist's trade; this merging of portrait and still life throws up many interesting questions.

Sofia Grabuloska, Black/White Still Life, 2011
So, after meeting up with some friends later I have to pack up my stuff again tomorrow morning and set the co-ordinates for Sarajevo. It's about a ten hour drive so I'm stopping somewhere in central Serbia tomorrow night, as driving in the dark on unfamiliar Bosnian mountain roads would be an insane strategy. I hope to be in Sarajevo early Thursday afternoon, so my next update, with first impressions, will be from BiH probably early next week. It's the part of the trip I have most been looking forward to, as I have never been to Sarajevo before, and I also have plans to take in Jajce, Mostar, and Tito's bunker, now an art gallery, about 20kms south of the capital. As for Skopje? Well, it's a little bit sad to have to do a city I really enjoy in such short bursts, so I am very much looking forward to being a resident here next year, and writing up the great tome from a towerblock somewhere.

Crumbling Yugoslav-era "AutoMakedonija" sign in the city centre. Don't think the neon has worked since the mid 80s

I largely wrote this in Skopje, but never got around to finishing it so am putting it up now. Next update from SJ (where I am now) soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment