Artists & Refugees
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
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]
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.
Skopje, July 1999