GRAD NA DRUGI POGLED //CITY AT A SECOND GLANCE
Galženica Gallery, Velika Gorica (HR), November 15-December 22 2013
Artists: Tonka Maleković, Božena Končić Badurina, Igor Kuduz, Martin Mrzljak, Tanja Vujasinović, Ana Zubak & elementary (OŠ Nikole Hribara) & secondary school pupils from Velika Gorica
Curators: Tonka Maleković, Ivana Meštrov & Tanja Vujasinović
What does the city mean to us, how do we see it, perceive it, imagine it, claim and adopt it – all those are the questions we wish to ask ourselves as the authors of the project, but at the same time as the inhabitants of the city of Velika Gorica, whose temporary dwellers we become (we accept to be) by acting within its context. To us who don’t live there, Velika Gorica, the site of Galerija Galženica (Galženica Gallery) activity, is the space of fluctuating identities, primarily associated with the Zagreb agglomeration and neighboring airport. We often disregard the fact that it is the seventh in size city in Croatia, with its internal logic exceeding the transit space presented to us at the first glance. Therefore, following the invitation to participate in Galerija Galženica 2013 programme, in an early phase the question of dealing with the image of the city and using the new media to transpose that meeting posed itself to us, at the same time striking us as the only possible way of urban interventionism and drawing closer to its texture and inhabitants through a short-term exhibition experiment of modest production conditions.
Yet, it all began with the film and the need of imagining the space.
The city as the film background often serves as the praise to the city itself, leaving us to wonder to which extent Velika Gorica as a city was the set of great film expectations. Film, as a widespread and dominant medium of today, should we paraphrase Žižek’s Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, often dominates and constructs the landscape of our desires, directly and efficiently painting spatial imaginations and other scenes of reality. Thus, it is no surprise that this mostly ninety-minute excerpt of reality is so eagerly sought after and so widely produced.
It is also worth noticing that film in its digital forms and video as the medium of artistic preoccupations have a very important inherent component already referred to by one of the pioneers of video art, a distinguished conceptual artist Goran Trbuljak, back in now long gone 1977. Commenting on the democratization of the medium, he pointed out the following: (…) should anyone who had not had the opportunity to work with video be given a chance to try himself in it, he would soon realize that he is charmed by one of the most seductive media. Maybe this democratic ability of video to inspire creativity shall lead to some future era, in a time when everybody is supplied with a video technique, an era of no artists in the art, a period when everybody will be producing art.” Truth be told, nowadays, thanks to the technological processes, most of us have the ability to make some rudimentary “short film” or a video. More precisely, if we look at the geopolitical situation, those very tools enable us to document different realities “during the crisis” and introduce other views and statements into the dominant media trends.
But, what interested us from the very beginning of our project process – related to the specific microlocation and the city of Velika Gorica itself – was more than just what people would record using the new media tools. The point was to encourage them to imagine other images of what they see, images surpassing the mere observation of the encounter, and to discover how they themselves direct their own other/different (we assume desired, thus better) reality.
Consequently, we consider this project a filter and a warning of the monodimensionality of the image and an invitation to execute numerous images of the city and oneself, which we perceive as in deep crisis in today’s Croatian society.
The project had two phases: the preparatory phase lasting throughout October 2013 and the presentational, exhibition phase that took place in Galerija Galženica as well as in public space of Velika Gorica in November and December of 2013. Ahead of the presentation of the project, preparatory workshops and recordings in the streets took place in cooperation with visual artists, project associates Božena Končić Badurina, Tonka Maleković and Tanja Vujasinović, accompanied by the students of Nikola Hribar elementary school and Secondary school of Velika Gorica. The goal was to invent new, fresh and unburdened views of the city and its urban everyday life.
We worked under the assumption that the space of “dwelling” of younger generations today is to a large degree shifted from physical to virtual space. Our wish was, through the use of “tools” most elementary school children own and use on a daily basis (iPhones, mobile phones with cameras), to return to physical space, everyday surroundings, public space of the city they live in and use, making them more aware of it and, furthermore, imagining it into a new, possible contents. For we can never “let go” the city from our hands.
Those processes are thoroughly described by the researcher and architect Dubravka Sekulić in her text “Javni interes u magli kapitala” (Public Interest in the Capitalistic Fog). She points out that, lately, the imagination of space stems exclusively from the investor’s point of view, and in no way from the social imaginarium, either urbanistic or one of a group of citizens or a microcommunity involved in many levels. The citizens’ role in making decisions boils down to posthumously planted debates on nearly finished projects and rare invitations to a joint conceptualisation of future. Or they are tacitly negated even when there is another view. In this fashion, the decisions regarding the space and development of a city are made while increasingly neglecting the position of the citizens, thus expanding their less noticeable but certain contribution to the economy of a city, the one performed through everyday interactions with the public, common good, concludes Sekulić.
The project “City at a Second Glance” has no pretensions to change the imaginarium of a city, but strives to re-evaluate the very right to the city we live through various frontal encounters with it. The fact is that all the artworks result from the process of site-specific intervention, originating in the direct, everyday dialogues of the temporary dwellers of the city with its inhabitants. These are: the dialogue between a neon sign manufacturer, Mr. Lacković and Tanja Vujasinović, introducing an air of distinctiveness and diversity of some distant metropolises in the urban tissue of Velika Gorica itself, the performance by Božena Končić Badurina, returning the function to a square as the space of demos and agora, and the happening by Ana Zubak, striving to create a bridge between the gallery as a cultural institution and the texture of the city. Some of the authors explore transit as such to tell the metastory of relocation and the (in)ability to meet, directly accentuating the digital tools and medium used together with all its limitations, but the imaginational encouragement as well (Tonka Maleković, Martin Mrzljak). Some denied the entire encounter (Igor Kuduz) and presented the city as a single still frame in the exhibition area, thus pouring the so-called exterior into the interior.
The encounter, as it seems, is never completely feasible, nor possible, and it can be realised only in its promise; it transpires only in that tiny reference point where the two opinions for a moment meet, correspond, overlap or provoke.
In its core, City at a Second Glance, gathers two visual artists, Tonka Maleković and Tanja Vujasinović and an art historian and a curator, Ivana Meštrov. Such transversal cooperation largely contributes to frequent reconsideration of the defined positions and set roles within the omnipresent and pronounced dichotomy of modern art system artist-curator, as well as to affirmation of the porosity of the boundaries between the two unavoidable protagonists of the world of contemporary art. This project not only re-examines the role of artist and curator, but also the intersection where they meet – the exhibition medium at the boundary of institutional integration and urban intervention and dissemination of shaping principles. Both curator and artist thus become very “literal” directors of the exhibition process, and the exhibition turns into a film set in the open, a cooperation principle utilizing the methodology of filmmaking.
ABOUT THE “CITY AT A SECOND GLANCE” WORKSHOPS
Text by Davorka Peric
The city at a second glance is the same city we pass by not noticing it, not thinking about it, and unaware that we can influence its changes. The workshops within the project City at a Second Glance were held in the public space and conducted in cooperation with schools, which demonstrated the willingness of school system to cooperate with the artists and the workshop as an extra-institutional form of working with children in the area of visual culture.
City at a second glance workshops taught its participants to use visual language as a means of communication in order to express their personal view and attitude towards their surroundings, the city and the environment. The workshops enabled students to set their visions and thoughts in the centre of workshop event.
The children are the inhabitants of the city and the artists were guests, so the artist coordinators accepted the unwritten rules of behaviour, either consciously or unconsciously.
In the public space of the city, the workshop coordinators became ones listening to children’ viewpoints and helping them to turn their thoughts into the visual art works.
The idea to present the works of children and artists in the joint exhibition in the city gallery once more equates the relation workshop coordinator – student, making all of them participants in the process of reading and understanding the city. The question of valorisation and division of works to ones made by children and ones made by artists is abolished; the centre of attention are joint works of artists and students, discovering the city and the process of work where artists and students learn from each other. The role of artist in this exchange is important because of the transfer of knowledge in terms of demonstrating different views of the city and different artistic practices, introducing the children to the language of modern art through video, stop-animation and performance characterised by personal relationship towards the urban context. Focusing the attention to the city and change of personal perception of the city in the sense of making the children more sensitive to experience the city are exceptionally important for working in the field. During that process, the participants of the workshop become active, not only as onlookers, but as the conscious participants in the story of the city – the citizens who see, think critically, want and can influence the changes in the city they live in.
The workshop City at a Second Glance resulted in the series of interesting joint and independent students’ works of art. The students’ works – although the artists/workshop coordinators tended to avoid it, and probably even are not aware of it – reflect the personal views and language of the artists through means of expression such as video and performance, through topics such as displacement and mouvement, characteristic for some of the artists’ works.
Simplicity is one of the expected results of good mentoring, allowing the participants to realise their ideas in a short period of time and helping them with issues related to language, form and medium in order to make their statements clear.
The artists invited the students to exchange roles of coordinators and students.
Tonka Maleković, one of the artists, is taken for a walk by the children, profiling the workshop into exploring the city and manners of apprehending the motion through the city, arising from the morphology of the city and the environment.
Talking to the children, the workshop coordinator raises questions that encourage them to observe the city and its changeability regarding the time of day, the manner and the speed of moving through the city. In that respect, this focus is also characteristic of Tonka Maleković’ individual work. Following is an excerpt from the tentative material containing the questions the children were asked:
“Try to imagine or try out and compare how you look at the city through the camera objective while you sit down relaxed on the bench in the park as opposed to how do you do it when you run? What does the city look like when you ride in a car? How do you feel when you experience the city from a bike, and how when you are stuck in a traffic jam?
Sounds of the city…
What is the city like in an early morning/at dawn, what is it like in the afternoon and what in the evening or late in the night?
Are there any changes in the rhythm or the colour?
Could you say that the city is alive?
Look for scenes that are strange and that wake your imagination. If you find any of such sights, try to make up a story related to it. This story can be completely fabricated, but it can also consist of the truth only you know.
It doesn’t even have to be a story, images can be enough.”
An indispensable place in students’ work belongs to the element of play, noticeable in the video where children go down the hill mimicking planes or in the video of the student with a homo ludens spirit recording the seemingly autonomous movement of the ball through the city.
The fact that the city is defined by the architecture and urban raster transpires through many works simulating the movement through the city, but there is also a highly-visible need to move around the given features dictated by the city and to include new, still unmarked and architecturally undefined routes in the video recordings of their movements, as an unpredictability factor reflecting from the new city ready to be described through play.
While working with children, Božena Končić Badurina begins with the conversation during which they jointly reach the topics the children are intrigued in and responsive to, such as the railway station Velika Gorica has, but since it is far away from the city centre, almost nobody uses it.
The high school seniors use the city’s scenery in their joint work – the arcades of Turopolje Museum are used as the stage of a video performance, referring to the Museum through the work itself.
Besides the architecture as a place and event, that through its monumental place in the city becomes an urban framework for inserting personal positions of the students (giving performances under the arches of the building), there are also works which focus on the personal relationship towards the sculptures of the city.
Students aim to establish communication with public sculptures by referring to the form, but also to the historical and political story of a sculpture. The busts witnessing as to who rules the park are far away from an intimate park sculpture, from whoever utilises the park. In videos, the students “ascribe” the lack of personal to the sculptures and establish relations with them.
The workshop held under the guidance of Tanja Vujasinović introduces the play and the film story to the city through the video alternatively showing toy aeroplane and playing with the real aeroplane, present on a daily basis in the sound and the sight of the city as an element inseparable from the story of Gorica. The plane, the motif and personified main character of the film about the city and its inhabitants, speaks in a playful manner about the relationship between the city and the airport, about the inseparability of city inhabitants’ lives from the perception of the city interrupted by continuous arrivals and departures of planes, by the idea of travelling, moving, arriving and departing again. One of the results of the following workshops is the new set up of positions me-art-city,that remains permanently imprinted into the experience and consciousness of the young inhabitants of Velika Gorica, outlining the thesis that acts, people and movements describe spaces.
Kustosice: Udruga Slobodne veze (Tonka Maleković, Ivana Meštrov) i Tanja Vujasinović