DiSTRUKTURA, in Maribor

Our research has been, for many years now, connected to the long-term project called We are living in a beautiful wOURld, which deals with issues of migration, brain drain and human capital, introducing also new, redefined theories of “home”. We started with a massive brain drain in post-Yugoslav regions during the war and after from a personal perspective, questioning the impact on identity and future of these people, as well as creation of space and new psychogeographical currents of the destination cities.  The project started in 2013 and it involved works in different media, photography, prints, drawings, installations and in situ installations with video based interviews as main medium. The most recent project involved Latino- American migration in Spain and their contribution to the social landscape of Barcelona and Madrid. The brain-drain does not have economic consequences only, but it relates to the design and renovation force of society as a whole. Absence of the intellectuals, the artists, the entrepreneurs, the youth cultures, leads to lacks of the resistance, the productive friction that create something new and make the essential identity of society. On the other side, how much do these currents affect the empowerment of civil and intellectual corpus of the destination country? To what extent do they qualitatively raise the capacity of society and consequently lead to the progress and prosperity of the whole nation.

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Vessna Perunovich

The research and art production  which I realized during my residency stay in Malta engaged in crucial issues relating to the transitory nature of migration and exile as a universal state of human condition in this day and age: the notion of inclusion and exclusion, borders, conflict and safety, communication and alienation, the notion of home and isolation.

I approached RC residency program in Malta as a one-off opportunity to engage in a poetic exploration of those issues through my own experience of a temporary residency stay, inhabiting an unfamiliar place, in a context of a transient home. Through video, photography and performance I conducted a recording of my brief migration to the island of Malta as to reflect on an ephemeral experience that a temporary migrant staying adjourned in a foreign place might encounter. The materials and settings, which I found, already in place in my domestic environment in Malta become a stage from which the work unfolded and where the personal and social boundaries were tested. The work, still in progress, will ultimately attempt to create an intimate portrait of an individual in flux, moving through an emotional space of migration and uncertainty in this moment in time.
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For the last few years Europe is struggling to contain a never-ending stream of refugees who are escaping wars and poverty and risking their lives on makeshift boats to cross Mediterranean Sea in a desperate attempt to reach safety of European countries. My residency stay in Zejtun, Malta gave me opportunity to explore how newcomers can find ways to integrate in mostly homogeneous European countries. Few years ago, in the aftermath of two shipwrecks, that killed at least 1,000 migrants tasteless online commentator uploaded a Facebook post saying he stopped eating fish because they were now feeding on “Ebola-infected corpses”. Many who posted comments on the Times of Malta website blamed the migrants themselves for taking the dangerous trip in the first place.

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Selman Trtovac 

Performance and drawing titled Riječka linija (The Rijeka Line), which I created and performed during
my stay in Rijeka in late July and early August 2018, is a result of awareness of a strange coincidence that I was staying as an artist in this very place, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rijeka, on the day of the outbreak of the war in former Yugoslavia, 27th June 1991 and that I am here again 27 years later. For me it was a reason to visualize the time and space line, i.e. the link, between these two events, and all in the context of the project ‘’Risk Change’’ and the circumstances in which we witness large scale migrations of people over the last few years. One of the dominant images presented through media coverage that remains in our minds is the image of people who walk, who run carrying their children in an attempt to barely save their lives. This image is also tied to the fate of the peoples of former Yugoslavia. Huge migration of people puts Europe, as a social structure and a structure of values, before a difficult challenge. The question arises whether we have learned something from our history, whether the ideal we aspire to in principle, remains just a distant utopian projection or is a concrete utopia possible, as Rudi Dutchke has said. The performance Riječka linija (The Rijeka line) consists of simple walking through the entire central part of the city of Rijeka. On that occasion I was carrying my son, I was dressed in black and he in white. This movement happened between the place where the museum used to be and the place where it is today. It was for me a symbolic movement of two generations, through time and space, with the desire to see the wider time and space picture of what we all lived through together. The drawing Riječka linija (The Rijeka Line) is an integral part of the process of thinking and working during my stay in Rijeka. The performance would not be complete without the drawing. Drawing has a key place in my art work, it has a ritual character, and serves as transmitter into a particular, I would say elevated, state of consciousness. The drawing, which is an  integral part of the presented work, mutates the video of the performance into something else. Walking is no longer a mere barefoot walk along the streets of Rijeka, but becomes a symbol. The drawing is made with simple means, graphite on paper with the addition of a geometrically precise and straight line made of human (my) blood. Hence, it is also a bloody line. An artist cannot do anything to prevent an existing or upcoming tragedy, except to express, in artistic language, the spirit of the period, as a potential warning to people who will live in the future.

Branislav Nikolić 

1.A bus with three passengers was descending down the old road through Gorski Kotar through downpour andhaze. The only place I remember in-between constant dozing-offs is Delnice. It was Sunday. Students with bags wereentering the bus. Rijeka was the last stop. So, a big place, after all, some go there to study, I thought.
2. The rain stopped. The sky cleared. I got off at a small bus station. It looked exactly as on Google Earth, except for the unique fragrance of the sea that is felt only on the Croatian coast. Or had my nose, since the early childhood, got used to catching these molecules? Then, to Marina’s delight, I walked ON MY OWN to the apartment. Well, if she knew how big the distances were in Belgrade! This is how long it takes me to the nearest shop when they send me to buy bread on Sundays.
3. She is showing me the apartment – this is your room, another room, the third, fourth …, bathroom, kitchen, room for drying the laundry … The apartment is surreal, huge, clean, empty, somewhat like as if from horror films, but well situated: in the harbour, next to the market, surrounded by seamen’s bars and local cafes. Rijeka is a real city. Very different from others on the coast. Since it is not oriented to tourism, it lives its normal life in winter, too.
4. It was the first time I came to the residential programme knowing exactly what I was going to do. Not that this
time I had wisely and conscientiously decided, but because it just so happened. I had, simply, been lucky. Namely, two years before, at a group exhibition in Graz (Austria) a priest, delighted by my work Sekundarna arhitektura (Secondary Architecture), had approached me and asked if I would do another similar work that would be placed in their cathedral. Yes, I said, what would it be? Well, you would make a confessional from the material like this, the found, discarded material. I was to make a sculpture which would function as a real confessional where the real, random people would give confessions to a real priest at a real cathedral?! My first thought was: did I hear it well, and immediately I remembered Michelangelo, Giotto, Tintoretto, Bernini, Bramante… all in a split second. Somehow I pulled myself together and said very calmly and professionally – yes, certainly! Why not, it would be very interesting. Later, I learned, through my friends from Goethe-Institute (who, btw, had been the key actors for the initiation of the very project Sekundarna arhitektura (Secondary Architecture)), that the man’s name was Hermann Glettler, that he was a priest in Graz, and that, he, himself, was a contemporary visual artist who dealt with audio and video installations and led the art project Sacred Space (Contemporary art in cathedral) (http://virtualsacredspace. In the meantime, he became a VIP – the bishop in Innsbruck. I do not think he still runs that project, but, in any case, it was an idea worth attention and effort. I had, also, found out that the Catholic Church has a budget for contemporary art and that this whole project is far less strange to them than it is to me.
5. Thus, my stay in Rijeka turned into a secret task with a hidden goal – infiltration into the very heart of the Catholic Church. It was almost like in that stupid book Da Vinci Code. Who knew what dark secrets this wood would hear?
6. In the meantime I lived peacefully, alone on the seashore, in a horror crib with wooden blinds that creaked in the wind and lounge room doors that opened on their own in the middle of the night. Every evening I would go to the Cinematheque to watch Czech / Slovak / Korean films, eat specialties of local cuisine in Nostalgia, drink tea with the neighbour, Tanja, spend time with the crew from the Museum, Marina, Nina, Iva, then with the Dutch, with Ivan, Lucija, Vlada, I would go to the vernissages in order to increase the number of art fans in Rijeka and to meet new friends; I even got caught up in a casting for a commercial of Croatian Telekom, and, of course, I would cut the boards, nail the nails, screw the screws all day long, fulfilling the mission cast upon me from a higher instance.
7. Yet, no sculpture, and this one too, is a mere nailing the boards to the prepared frame. It is an adventure that is always exciting and different. You never know what your work will look like in the end. The reality shapes and reshapes every minute of the hour, and when you see your work, after long days and weeks of hard labour, you say: that’s it, that’s exactly what I wanted to see at this exhibition! And the exhibition on the position of Roma and other minority groups named Moja umetnost je moja stvarnost (My Art is My Reality) was good, diverse, lively, just like the minorities are, without whom our life would be dull as the unsalted soup. 
8. During the last days other artists appeared, Valérie with her boyfriend Michael, also an exceptional artist, Emília,Selman, Stevan, Siniša, Sanja, the curator, representatives of Goethe and French Institute, journalists, visitors. Thehouse and the gallery were filled by a bunch of people. The time came to move on – northwards. By a half empty bus, via Delnice towards Antwerp, into a new adventure.

Sanja Andjelković 

I’ve always liked the idea of extensions. Or any kind of hypertext references while reading articles. What does this particular idea have to do with the idea that I’ve been working on pre and post this residency?

-It’s quite simple. Everything is connected to everything. Somehow, it is like a vast surface where all the ecosystems come together in one relation. To break it down from vastness, people like to compartmentalize things. We need a detail in order to be able to expand and integrate better.

This is how I think about work. It is connected to many different ecosystems with a tangible note of ethicality that is connecting them all. It always sways between telling stories about marginalized yet important “issues” of our societies: connecting fiction with reality, science with theatre, installations and semiotics. The research always starts from an everyday story that transforms through different fields. Formally I am very interested in transdisciplinarity.

I knew that going to Budapest right after a residency with the British Council would be just a small extension of the work I had already been trying to develop there. But also knowing I was coming to a group of artists I had already collaborated with in previous years, made it even more special. Connecting my own previous research with the playfulness of my Hungarian counterparts resulted in a semi improvised performance that came to life in just a week’s time. It was closely connected to a cancer ecology and comparison of migrating cancer cells with the cross state migration. A collaboration between myself and a Hungarian artist Mécs Miklós.

I would spend my days at the MOME (The Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design) library reading Prismatic Ecology and putting together a text for the performance. Simultaneously, Miki had an idea to do one more performance that extended to the work that he was developing. It was about a series of public participatory randez-vous (dates) where we were cooking for ourselves and other people who joined our date. Another layer of the work was the matriarchy aspect where he as a man was in “my service” for a few days where I, as a woman, had all the privileges that the totalitarian patriarchal men usually tend to “enjoy”. Mécs’s work is about constantly testing his own greed. He is very dedicatedly leaving his strongest ideas behind, he loves to “potter about, but only for a minute” and “waste a lot of energy to demonstrate his indifference”. “He chews his mouth from the inside to make his face smaller.” He is systematically trying “not to do anything (after all, everything happens anyways)”, “to live without money” (he is saving up for a stadium) and “to completely erase the future”.

The two performances took place at different dates, where one of them actually extended onto an event of someone else. For the performance of cancer ecology we were becoming two grown cancer cells who talked, physically intertwined with one another in English and Hungarian, being each other’s echo at times of reading and spinning into circles in a tunnel for babies in which we barely fit. It was a pleasure.

Concluding the time I’d shared with people in situations at the RC residency, some questions and texts got extended as well as friendships and collaborations. As for all the subjects that are boggling our minds, making us question our existence, we still haven’t found the right solutions. But, perhaps, there is some hope for the future.

Adrijan Klajo 

During residency programs artists usually go to foreign, distant countries to map out lesser-known, different cultures. They also observe and get familiar with other forms of functioning from what they have experienced and got accustomed to in their own countries. Well, in my case, it happened a little differently. I spent ten days in the RC residency program in my mother country, in Hungary (Budapest). I’m not sure if I can call it that. I’d rather say that it’s a stepfather country… well, that’s where the story begins. Did I go home from home? Where do I belong?

This type of identity crisis is not an unknown concept to Hungarians from Vojvodina. Walking in Budapest as a Hungarian one feels that everything belongs to him a little bit. The inscriptions in the streets are familiar, one understands every word on the bus or metro. Still, somehow everything is ambiguous and foreign. In a short time you feel like a tourist.

My artistic practice is actually the convergence of existing on the verge, alienation and out-of-centre, Eastern-European, rural life. Among other things, it raises issues such as: What does it mean to be a foreigner in your home country? Is it a blessing or a curse to be multinational? What is it like to live as a European in a non-European country and as a non-European in a European country?

An element that has appeared again and again in my work for several years is the Fence, which initially started from the observation of village fences, which has become even more meaningful and important over the years with the migrant situation. It became a symbol.

There is a strong border between Hungary and Serbia, not only in a physical sense, but also mentally. In the case of immigrants, Hungary has strengthened its borders in the name of non-inclusion and exclusion. A homogeneous country like Hungary does not know or does not want to know how to live with other nations, abstains from it and strives for ethnic purity. Vojvodina, where the largest minority is Hungarian, takes a completely different position on this issue. Vojvodina has 25 ethnic groups and six official languages (Croatian, Hungarian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Ruthenian). We could say that it is a mini Europe.

During my stay on the program, I made an attempt to observe the famous Hungarian “hospitality”. My experience over the years has not changed, I would say it has become even stronger.