Exhibition „Resistance, Movement, Change“
The purpose of the exhibition and the accompanying conference was to affirm and to critically reflect upon the tradition of progressive activism and artistic accomplishments in disputing and reshaping the dominant political, cultural and social matrices in the post-Yugoslav region. While the region continues to ridden by identity and power driven conflicts, poverty, devastation of public goods and spaces, distrust and deep divisions, it also remains connected on different levels – its old and new borders, injustices, traumas as well as creative forms of resistance, healing and innovations.
The exhibition targeted younger generations and broader circles of citizens who may not be aware of the interconnectedness and continuity of the citizens’ struggles for a democratic identity across post-Yugoslav countries. It was open from April 13 until April 24, 2017 at the Student Centre Zagreb, enabling the students to experience the living legacy of regional artistic and activist practices. It is estimated that at least 300 citizens visited the exhibition over the 10 days of its display.
At the opening of the exhibition, its curator Martina Kontošić from KURZIV explained the purpose of the exhibition:
„In order to reach a point of awareness of injustice and one’s ability to act against injustice, there is a need for a series of emotional and rational triggers. And that is the logic of this exhibition. It is intended for organisations, activists but also people who do not consider themselves part of the activist circle.“
Xhabir Deralla from the Skopje-based organization CIVIL addressed the audience by stating:
„Please show understanding towards artists who may not understand politics, but they feel it. Show understanding for activists who may not always be savvy when it comes to words and excel tables to provide clear-cut measures the government should take. But they want change. And of course, they want to see who will pay the bill at the end of the day“.
From the very start, the exhibition was designed with follow-up display in mind, in a portable format and an open concept that enables addition of local relevant artistic works and activist documentation. The preparation of the exhibition and the accompanying conference entailed several months of collaborative research undertaken through a rich and intense regional partnership of GONG and Kurziv from Zagreb (Croatia) with the Centre for Cultural Decontamination from Belgrade (Serbia), the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Banja Luka (B-H), CIVIL – Centre for Freedom from Skopje (Macedonia), and association ANIMA from Kotor (Montenegro).
The background research required identifying and organising documentation from numerous sources of activist and artistic practices throughout the region, related to resistance to wars, militarism and revolts against anti-democratic regimes, human rights protection, feminist organising, LGBT rights, anti-corruption and protection of public goods and environment since mid- 1980’s until the end of 2016. The exhibition was organized around these key themes, featuring educational posters, samples of activist documentation, banners and videos from direct actions.
In parallel, thematically related artistic works by artists from the region of different generations and from different countries in the region, known for their social and political engagement, including Nika Autor, Igor Grubić, Adela Jušić, Siniša Labrović, Vladimir Miladinović, Alban Muja, Miroslav Stojanović, Sanja Iveković and Nataša Nelević (with a group of women artists) and ŠKART collective from Belgrade.
In addition, Kurziv, GONG, Association DOMINO and SOLIDARNA Foundation opened a public call for concepts of new artistic works that reflect upon the main themes of the exhibition and selected the following three works that were commissioned and exhibited:
- an interactive performance “Never. Again. Never Again?” by Bosnian artist Elma Selman, focusing on societal attitudes towards war crimes, which opened the April 13th event,
- a graphic “Walls” by Ivana Armanini focusing on the phenomenon of borders and boundaries and
- a literary audio installation by Jasna Jasna Žmak “I am the Future”, provoking the audience to reflect upon their own social passivity.
Moreover, the association Domino prepared a gallery of photos displaying a selection of political performances of local authors since 2000 in the café of Theatre &TD, while a video documentary work “Black Box” produced by GONG and SOLIDARNA Foundation in the Kiosk Gallery presented the invisible, frustrating and often despised side of activism – project administration.
The opening of the exhibition at the occasion of GONG’s birthday made part of the rich cultural programme, also including the theatre performance „Postgraduate Studies“ co-authored by Vilim Matula and Siniša Labrović and directed by Borna Armanini, accompanied by Igor Pavlica on the piano and Ilko Čulić’s Musical Activist Time-Machine, which evolved into a night-long regional party.