(Non)Artistic Practices

October 1, 2019


Iva Kovač

Iva Kovač has been a visual artist at fokusgrupa.net since 2012, an editor at GSG magazine, and a curator at gsg.hr since 2017. She was the curator at PM Gallery in Zagreb from 2010 to 2012 and at SIZ Gallery in Rijeka from 2013 to 2015. As Fokus Grupa she received the Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen Scholarship [2015/16] and developed a seminar at the Innsbruck Institute for Architectural Theory [2016]. Realized as the Exhistenzoptimum project, it was exhibited at Kunstpavilion Innsbruck [2016] and in its extended version at Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg [2018]. Fokus Grupa’s project Stories About Frames was exhibited at MSU, Zagreb [2015/16], Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona [2016], MSUB, Belgrade [2016] and nGbK Berlin [2018]. The project invisiblematter.xyz was exhibited at Bunkier Sztuki [2017], Krakow, at Onomatopee [2018], Eindhoven and Tobačna 001 Cultural Centre, Ljubljana [2018]. 

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This is the Second Issue of GSG Magazine, a publication of Inicijativa Građanke Svom Gradu (GSG), the From the Citizens to Their City Initiative. This issue focuses on artistic and non-artistic practices aimed at developing social cohesion and strengthening disadvantaged communities.

Since its beginning, GSG has been trying to establish itself as a platform for linking artistic practices with the community. With its initial projects, such as the From the Citizens to Their City pilot project that launched our name in late 2016, GSG has been focusing on the the centre of Sušak—part of the larger city of Rijeka in Croatia. Building on that experience, we implemented the Misliti zajednicu [Thinking Community] series of talks and presentations in the spring of 2017, through which we learned about various initiatives in Rijeka and its surroundings. In 2018, following a public call, we initiated artistic productions under the umbrella name Invisible Barriers—Visible Shifts. At the end of the same year, the first two out of the five selected projects were presented. Tajči Čekada’s video work Sa o Roma, Rijeka Grade [Sa o Roma, Rijeka City], in collaboration with the members of the Roma community, thematised the current topic of Roma emigration to “the West.” The Belgrade collective Tačka komunikacije [Communication Point], in collaboration with the micro-communities of Sušak, explored the transformations of the city told from personal perspectives, and organized the walk Neispričani Sušak [Untold Sušak]. Both projects were presented during the second Misliti zajednicu edition that extended to include (non)artistic organizations and initiatives in Croatia and Serbia.

In the first text of this issue of GSG Magazine, Sherif Rushdy writes about the methods of work in communities and the education of future managers from his position as a community development manager, as well as touching on the importance of using artistic methods for developing social cohesion and imagining future models of coexistence. When he talks about art, Rushdy is not talking about the discipline practiced by trained or amateur artists. He discusses techniques employed in many areas of life that open up communication channels which would otherwise remain unexplored. He lists various methods of working with communities, such as Freire’s generative word technique, catalyst theatre, and the use of drawings or mapping a territory. By engaging in education, Rushdy has contributed to transmitting community development knowledge, which he also describes using the example of The New Era Development Institute in India.

Art historian Irena Borić has prepared an interview with Maja Hodošček, a visual artist and educator. Hodošček talks about her practice that is closely related to education and which she carries out through educational institutions or workshops in cultural institutions. Through workshops with high school students she tries to infiltrate the existing educational system and raises questions that will encourage young people to become active members of society. She wants to inspire a collective sense among youth as well as introduce social and political topics in the field of education through contemporary art. Along these lines, among other topics Hodošček also recalls the Non-Aligned Movement as the third option in the extremely polarized Cold War world, as well as the Partisan school as a form of resistance to the occupation of Slovenia during World War Two. Hodošček contemplates the political background behind the decision to have such topics either completely erased from the curriculum, or presented in a one-dimensional manner and interpreted from a colonial perspective.

The text by art historians Ivana Hanaček and Ana Kutleša, “Learning from Zemlja,” includes the discussion of a long historical period starting from the time between the two world wars to today. The authors point to the paradigmatic difference between the art practices of the first half of the 20th century, which were directly related to political movements, and present-day practices that are often focused on general values and do not side with concrete political programs, putting into question the effectiveness of the values on which they are based. By pointing to the basic postulates of the Zemlja members, the authors are looking for the reflection of their ideology in the new Yugoslavia where, immediately following the Second World War, during the time of the National Front, it seemed as if this ideology briefly experienced its realization only to become parole [just words] yet again.

The contribution of the Belgrade-based duo KURS, selected through the public call Invisible Barriers – Visible Shifts, is the first elaboration of their proposal for a public intervention in Rijeka. The proposal is based on a number of archival photographs. It covers the history of the location and sometimes emphasizes even mundane gestures that point to the necessity of action through the collective effort for the benefit of the community.

The introduction to the magazine is accompanied by short texts in our first response (“The Fight Continues!”) that remind us of the socially engaged art practices of some artists who are dear to us, and the illustrations by Ana Tomić and Marino Krstačić-Furić who were also responsible for the GSG Magazine design. The texts first accompanied posters created by Rafaela Dražić which were used to launch the visual identity of From the Citizens to Their City and to celebrate International Workers’ Day.


Iva Kovač

The Fight Continues!

Between 1973 and 1975 Margaret Harrison, Kay Hunt and Mary Kelly worked on the project Women & Work: A Document On the Division Of Labour In Industry in which they engaged in a comprehensive study of “female“ work using the example of workers in a metallurgical plant in London.

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Sherif Rushdy

Art and Social Change – A personal perspective

There are two general approaches to discussing the role of the arts in social change: the perspective of the artist wishing to contribute to social change, and the perspective of the agent of social change wishing to use the arts to enhance that action—with, of course, some overlap between the two.

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Maja Hodošček

A Parallel Education Program

It seems to me that by introducing certain political topics through art we can stimulate this social potential. Students’ active participation creates a space for their voices to be heard. The second reason is that contemporary art is rarely part of the curriculum or is not represented at all. This intervention is also meaningful because it familiarizes students with contemporary art practices.

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Ivana Hanaček & Ana Kutleša

Learning from Zemlja

Zagreb, February 4th, 1929: Six Zagreb-based artists are being followed by the police as they are headed for a studio at the Academy of Fine Arts, where they are supposed to be having a meeting. Architect Drago Ibler, sculptor Antun Augustinčić, and painters Krsto Hegedušić, Kamilo Ružička, Omer Mujadžić, and Ivan Tabaković decide to take a detour and stop at the bar of the Hotel Esplanade. In this way, by an ironic twist of fate, the first and founding meeting of the Zemlja (land) Association of Artists was held at a popular meeting point of Zagreb’s elite.

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KURS Visual Residency

This visual contribution to GSG Magazine is the initial research phase for the work created under GSG’s residency. The illustrations of various collectives remind us that collective action is crucial to the well-being of a community.

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