CAUCASUS - BALKANS 2016
Vahe Budumyan, Vilmoš, Tanja Radež, Giorgi Khasaia
Caucasus — BalkansKaja Kraner
The basic common thread of the “project” collective Caucasus — Balkans is, that all of the included artists work in the medium of public interventions, which are, as is usual, at least to some degree adapted to the specificities of the local space, in which they intervene. An individual project is thus a kind of intersection between the artists’ usual approach, focus and interests and between the information and peculiarities that the artist discovers during the basic research process and which, to a degree, form the foundation of the work. This collective of artists, who don’t work together beyond occasional residential stays, had formed within the frame of a platform for reflection, inspiration and cooperation in the cultural sector of the Southern Caucasus and the Balkans. Thus two areas with a similar political history and especially the recent so-called post-socialist transition experience, which has to a great degree transformed the production circumstances of art and culture − their relatively stable former function of contributing to the socialist building of a new society and a new (wo)man was quickly pushed into the direction of serving as a factor in guaranteeing economic development.
The artists united in the project − Vahe Budumyan from Armenia, Vilmoš Koter from Romania, Tanja Radež from Slovenia, and Giorgi Khasaia from Georgia − had, after stays in all the origin countries of the participants, separately realized several public interventions during their residency in Maribor. Khasaia, primarily a political activist, has quite explicitly based his work on the common socialist heritage. He used formerly omnipresent propagandistic-educational literature, which is today mostly found in overflowing used-book shops, and planted selected pages in public space. Through careful selection of pages and highlighting quotations he emphasized the parts that thematized the issue of civically (in)active individuals. The combination of highlighting very specific parts of selected pages and the title of the work “Leni(n) bralec” also reveals the artists’ stance on this theme in relation to our current predicament.
Budumyan has used subtle exposure of the − not fully gotten over − a period of the European Capital of Culture 2012 to comment on the local cultural situation. His project was, to a degree, related to his previous series of postcards, in which he erased visually and/or symbolically over-prominent buildings from birds-eye-view images of cities. In case of the Maribor situation, the exposed emptiness in the cityscape wasn’t part of his intervention − the artist has photographed 0,146 m2 of foundations of the unbuilt Maribor cultural centre MAKS and exhibited this in the smallest local gallery ran by artist Nataša Berk.
Koter and Radež have, on the contrary, intervened primarily in the more physical-spatial aspects of the city and thematized certain specificities of public space in general. Koter has thematized the use and ownership of public space through a sound installation in the form of an alarm, which is activated by a passerby, and through construction from building materials in a narrow street. Radež, on the other hand, has used interventions in graffiti symbols of Celtic crosses to question potentially problematic aspects of freedom of speech in public space.
The residency was produced in cooperation with Bunker, Ljubljana.