Artists & Refugees

Exhibition dedicated to all refugees in the world


       THE IDEA about an exhibition on the issue of the most burdening theme in 1999 in the Republic of Macedonia, the tragedy of refugees flooding the region, and the sense of direct witnessing of human drama and suffering, has led to a quick reply in the concepts of artists and subsequently to a complex exhibition unprecedented to the historic inheritance and engagement of artists of the Skopje scene, covering 10 projects of artists of different cultural idioms, characteristics and generations, in the Museum of the City of Skopje. This artistic testimony of a situation of imesurable negative processes and destructions in our region, signifies one of the rare times when the Macedonian artists have prefered to respond to an actual situation exploring the deeply human themes, communicating thus the specifics of our situation and asking provocative questions to the society, rather than to proceed into the process of self-isolation. The way in which the theme of refugees in Macedonia is treated is an important moment in our recent art because it has so far been regarded, with few exceptions, as beeing formalist, non-provocative and non-political.
The project Artists & Refugees represents an attempt to investigate the visual language of the theme burdening us at the end of this millennium in the region of the Balkans, as well as to raise questions about information and interpretation of information. The artists have tried to investigate the events, relations, causes, entering as deeply as possible into various levels of the Balkan conflict, retaining their critical awareness of the context, and trying to analyze the mutations of the situation on the Balkans and its particular complex routes such as war, which is constantly appearing as a means of primitive solution of problems in the region.
They have as a result created a mosaic of 10 art works covering human destinies, disapointments, sufferings, tensions, passing themselves through a battlefield of emotions in which it was not possible to remain non-responding, and ethically neutral. This process was especially important for the artists taking into consideration that the ethic and political opinions do not necessarily converge. Some of them have investigated the influencing factors such as the politics, imprisonment with historical particularities, and the changing values. This subject of the exhibition as a result is not alienated from its causes.
     Ismet Ramicevic with his installation Pain + Food = Souvenir accompanied with the video performance Washing of dishes has investigated not only the hunger but also the absence of wish for life, and the sorrow of people leaving their homes. The main element of the installation are empty saucers signifying the deep spiritual pain which should point to the senselessness of war, representing also the heads of the participants in wars which convey of absence of conscience and ratio of people.
     Violeta Capovska in her installation 300,000 has used the same number of papers on which she has inscribed words most commonly exploited in different media regarding the Kosovo crisis, describing the physical, emotional and mental condition of the 300,000 refugees in Macedonia.
     Ljupka Deleva in her installation Album with Memories refers to the loss and deserting of the current way of life, becoming 10 years older (in a period of 20 days), change in the meaning of "collective psychosis". [The only inseparable things from each one of us are our memories. - Deleva]
     Emil Petrov and Kristina Miljanovska have presented the project Labyrinth consisted of a CD-Rom and installation in which the visitor is led through different crossed passages limited with doors, in which it is not easy to direct, a position in which it is difficult to survive, to find an exit from it.
     Robert Jankuloski in his photographic installation Red Line consisted of 5 silver toned photo objects from the cycle Stereographies does not enter into the analysis of personalities in the camps but concentrates on the general atmosphere of the refugee camps.
     Zaneta Vangeli with the complex installation The F.Y.R.O.M. Experiment consisted of 5 plotter prints and one ready made object, refers to the multi-layerness and polysignification of the current events in our region.
["The refuge" may be observed in its evident, physical form, in the spheres of the mental and in the spheres of the spiritual. It is not possible to treat the problem of the physical refugees, with all of the apocalyptic weight it carries, without treating the invisible, unmanifested in the refuge matter - Vangeli]
     Elizabeta Avramovska in her project Disaster Relief consisted of 13 plotter prints is presenting life photographs from the refugee camps in Macedonia such as Stenkovec, Nevestino, etc. The idea for this project is urged by the need to realistically present the life in the camp as well as events that the refugee life brings with it.
     Milcho Manchevski in his project Stenkovec, Vase Veles, uses 2 life photographs investigating the form of the medium of photography and observing children at play at different sites. [Refugees and non-refugees look alike - Manchevski]
     Stefan Saskov and Lara Taskovska in the project Abandoned Eternity consisted of a video and two plotter prints deal with the theme of eternal refugees, from times described in the Old Testament up to most recent events in our region. They use images and frames covered with prayers from the Koran, naration of texts from the Bible and Church chanting. [Murmur, thud, fear, belief-infidelity, chaos, crying...PEACE. - Saskov]
     Natasa Dimitrievska and Biljana Tanurovska in the project Can You Hear MeTalking consisted of a video film and 3 plotter prints investigated how the young people perceive the situation and how it affects their emotions. The film deals with individuals and groups, with a stress on the transmission of information and the influence of media in the everyday life of ordinary people.

It is our hope that the project Artists&Refugees will serve the purpose of directing the viewpoint of our society towards the urging of a constant research of deeply human themes, observing, detecting, and understanding the raissed questions and burdening problems, as well as in conveying to others the specifics of our situation.
We also hope that the pursuing in the artistic investigation of the problem of refugees in the late nineties will have a cathartic impact assisting as much as possible in the overcoming of the stereotypes and the spirit of intolerance creating thus an atmosphere of reconcilation and re-building of peace in our region.


Melentie Pandilovski

Skopje, July 1999