Despite today being 2012’s first working day we can’t seem to shake various backlogs and topics from last year. Thus we present the annual sum-up – an overview of last year’s most important cultural events.
In order to explore a broader POV in regard to all aspects of visual culture that marked last year, we invited several prominent individuals from the respective fields of design, architecture and art to share their take on this past year with us.
So we asked photographer Sandra Vitaljić, artist Ivana Franke, architects Tomo Plejić and Lea Pelivan from the Studio UP, designers Filip Despot, Tihana Taraba and Ivana Pavić from the Studio Grupa as well as designer Lana Cavar, to answer a few questions:
1. What would you single out as the three most important cultural events in the field of visual arts in the past year
2. Single out an individual or group of authors from the Croatian scene, from your own field of work, whose work made a memorable impression on you
3. Your professional expectations of the New Year, taking into account the new Croatian government which is all set to “seriously” kick off the new year – hence your hopes and expectations in view of the new Minister of Culture Andrea Zlatar?
Sandra Vitaljić highlights the opening of the Lauba - as one of the most important cultural events overall, while from a photographer’s perspective she points out new initiatives such as the Open Show which showed that it’s possible to gather a large audience at a photo-presentation and simultaneously initiate a constructive dialogue. Sandra hopes that in time there will be an increase in interesting authors who have something to show and tell, at the same time raising the bar in view of presentation skills.
She also highlights the dedicated work of Marina Viculin, the curator of ‘Klovićevi dvori’ (Klović’s Court) who systematically presents large monographic exhibitions of Croatian photographers. “This year it was Petar Dabac’s exhibition ‘Not Guilty,’ along with Posavec, Vesović and Klarica. In addition to presenting established authors, her collection Snapshot at the Lotrščak Tower is an important platform for the presentation of the smaller completed projects and young authors,” says Sandra.
The Studio Grupa, Ivana Franke and Lana Cavar all also emphasized the opening of the Lauba as a significant cultural instance. “Corporations have become commissioners of seriously high-quality design and art: FilipTrade labeled its collection of contemporary arts as converted industrial architecture and thus bequeathed the ‘Lauba House for People and Art’ to the citizens,” states Cavar.
Ivana Franke, an artist with a Berlin address, singled out several European exhibitions in her overview of the most important events: Control and Chance – Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary, Akademie der Kunste, in Berlin. The exhibition was part of a one-year program “A Year from Monday. 365 Days of John Cage, Cage Cunningham Xenakis,” the exhibition “Danser sa vie” at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the controversial exhibition Based in Berlin.
Toma Plejić and Lea Pelivan consider the following exhibitions as most relevant in 2011: Josip Vaništa’s exhibition “The Time of Gorgona and PostGorgona 1961-2010” at the Gliptoteka, a series of exhibitions and the Nova Gallery (by Iveković, Maljković and Picelj), Ivana Franke’s installation “Seeing with Eyes Closed” in view of the Biennale at Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice as well as the recently held presentation of the Silvio Vujučić Studio collection of garments and edition of objects E.A. 1/1 S.V.
Studio Grupa and Lana Cavar point out one definitely shouldn’t miss the exhibition entitled “Socialism and Modern Art, Culture, Politics 1950-1974”, at the MSU, in addition to the exhibition opened in September 2011 “Passion and Rebellion – Expressionism in Croatia” at the Klović Court.
*Ivana Pavić, Filip Despot i Tihana Taraba – Grupa
Lana Cavar didn’t stop at highlighting a mere three events, she views that past year through the prism of several tendencies that turned up by a string of thematically and critically similarly directed exhibitions: “Regardless if it’s about visual arts, design or architecture, the independent scene or establishment, a critical amount of projects has surfaced throughout 2011 that have the former Yugoslavia timeframe as their point of origin. The projects are significant as they finally propose establishing a decent attitude towards the cultural heritage from the recent past and view the creativity stemming from that time without unnecessary politicizing.
Then we have Ivan Ladislav Galeta’s retrospective at the MSU, Sanja Ivekovic’s at the NYC MOMA, the exhibition “At a Standstill,” by Branko Franceschi on the ship Galeb, depicting activist art of repressed regimes from the Marinko Sudac collection, the exhibition “Hidden Design – The Department of Design Končar 1971 – 1990” by Koraljka Vlajo, “Radni teren (Rt)/ Working Terrain Jugoplastika”, by the OUR in Split, which problematize the disappearance of the “Jugoplastika” plant, the project “Incomplete Modernizations – Between Utopia and Pragmatism,” a research project where almost fifty researchers from the area of the former Yugoslavia explore various transformational themes of architectural culture and environmental developments, the “K-II” initiative for the tourist exploitation of the architectural heritage in Kumrovec, the project “Surfing the Black – Yugoslavian Black Wave Cinema” – where a group of four authors (Dubravka Sekulic, Gal Kirn, Pietro Bianchi, Ziga Testen) from the former-Yugoslav region explores the practices of film authors of the Yugoslav “Black Wave”, “A Few Things I Know About Skyscrapers…” by Dubravka Sekulić realized by UrbanFestival that deals with Zagreb skyscrapers within the 1950-1990 timeframe, the research project and exhibition “Excavations: Judge a Book by Its Cover”… Unfortunately, we also have a negative example: Mauro Massaroto and the Borovo Factory didn’t manage to come to an agreement on continuing the “Startas” sneakers project. It’s hard to imagine the future of this potent brand without a designer’s mind such as Mauro’s….”
On the other hand, we have certain interesting projects and initiatives that question established models of museum-gallery practices, or are maybe just a reaction to the current crisis and diminished possibilities of producing “major” projects of “government interest”: “Some artists have literally taken “the law into their own hands,” for example Labrović, the self-appointed minister of culture or the ABS Group’s guerilla performance at the Venice Biennale. The “Greta” Gallery has been opened, which is currently the only completely independent art-space in the city. The Street Art Museum in Dugave ensured strengthening and further developing the street-art scene, The Neighborhood Museum, one of the most interesting projects within the last few years dealing with spatial identity, The Cyclist Union , which actively deals with zoning and traffic as a part of urban culture.
The citizens of Split have decided to counteract Kerum’s (ab)use of Marjan through a series of cultural and artistic actions. A group of designers gathered round the Reaktor platform organized the a workshop called “Repair”, a project revitalizing the concept of fix-ups and “do-it-yourself” methodologies, PechaKucha Nights in Split and Zagreb. Of course, there’s the Hotel Lone Project , which gathered top Croatian architects, designers and artists, thus paving the way for the first Croatian Design Hotel, and maybe even a new chapter in Croatian tourism.”
*Toma Plejić i Lea Pelivan – Studio UP
In view of the question which individuals and projects most inspired them in the past year, Lana Cavar sinlged out the book design by Zoran Pavlović, Mihajlo Arsovski, Nenad Dogan, Branislav Fajon, Zoltan Gabor, Ivan Blažević, Boris Bućan, Ratko Janjić, Dean Jokanović Toumin, Jasna and Ivo Frisčić while rummaging through the archive dust for her exhibition Excavations: Judge a Book By Its Cover , realized together with Narcisa Vukojević.
For Studio UP, it’s the project Boomerang by Bernarda and Davor Silov of the Atmosfera Studio, the Group was impressed by the Revolve Three-Seat Sofa by Numen in collaboration with Borovnjak and Bratović, while Ivana Franke was impressed by Ivan Ladislav Galeta’s opus.
Sandra Vitaljić singled out Ana Opalić who presented herself through three exhibitions in 2011: “In Fact…” at the Lang Gallery, “Up Close and Personal in Small Format ” at MSU’s No Gallery and the “Fictional Travelogue” at the Prozori Gallery; followed by Kristina Lenard’s site-specific installation for the Think Space conference at the Lauba and Hrvoje Slovenac’s exhibition: Home Theater. “The Global Photography Exhibition by the curator couple Stefanie Rössl and Massimo Sordia presented within the framework of this year’s Rovinj Photodays Festival also left a big impression on me, as did Davor Sanvincenti’s work which inspires and thrills me,” adds Sandra.
Last but not least, our conversational partners expect positive shifts from the new government and the new Minister of Culture, Andrea Zlatar. They hope that they’ll be able to dedicate themselves towards fundamental structural changes in the field of production and presentation of contemporary (visual) arts.
Sandra Vitaljić hopes in particular that an initiative will be started in view of opening a photography gallery that would serve as a Photography Center along with a much-needed Museum of Photography. “I’d like for Želimir Koščević’s ambitious plan to come to fruition in view of moving the Lang Gallery into the space of abandoned garages in Samobor, which would in turn become a cultural center primarily focused on photography. I also consider presenting Croatian photography worldwide as highly important, as well as introducing a larger representation of contemporary world photo exhibitions in Croatia,” Sandra emphasizes.
Our designers want to see particular progress within the Ministry of Economic Development, whose goal should be raising Croatian design to an international level.
“I wouldn’t say I ‘expect’ anything other than the possibility to do the best I can and then something is sure to come of that. 2012 won’t be an easy year, but then again, I can’t remember ever experiencing an easy year here… Perhaps these restrictions and limitations we’re constantly up against can, in effect, serve as motivation for creative contemplation, an impulse we should embrace seeing as we can’t avoid it,” concludes Lana Cavar.