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All That We Have in Common

20/10/ 2023 - 12/05/ 2024

All That We Have in Common is an international exhibition of works in search of mutual support networks, extremely necessary in situations of general insecurity, that aim to strip away the precarious socially constructed discourse and its manifestations in the context of current and historical global injustices.

The 2023 edition of the exhibition addresses themes from a range of historical and contemporary circumstances, including global conflicts, gender exploitation, colonialism, racism, inhumane treatment of migrants, animal cruelty, health crises, and individual and collective states of vulnerability and fragility, with an emphasis on how these events, processes and situations produce unequal dynamics of power, violence and harm to marginalized individuals, but also the need to find a way out of the personal and political imprisonment.

The exhibition emphasizes both the suspicion towards the absolutism of anthropocentrism as a massively powerful concept and towards the specific histories of injustice that it hides. Politically and emotionally, it reveals the complex intersecting webs of vulnerability and guilt that exist among us, other species, and humans of the past, present, and future.

In this so-called shock of anthropocentrism, artists contemplate the generation of new political arguments, new narratives, new languages and new ways of artistic engagement, for an urgent rethinking of human and non-human life beyond the established standards of valuation and behavior.

As a result, the exhibition aims to explore the “collaborative survival” developed through artworks in which anthropocentric thinking is reconciled in imagination and narrative of survival, ensuing different forms of connection, dependencies, and symbioses for mutual rescue.

Simultaneously, it explores care as an intimate relationship that intersects the social and the political, the subjectivity and solidarity within the framework of emotions, politics, ecology and community.

Participating artists: Darko Aleksovski (N.Macedonia), Meriem Bennani (Morocco/USA) and Orian Barki (Israel/USA), Jakup Ferri (Kosovo/Netherlands), Igor Grubić (Croatia/Italy), Kapwani Kiwanga (Canada/France), Ilija Prokopiev (N. Macedonia/Slovenia), Zorica Zafirovska (N. Macedonia), Driant Zeneli (Albania/Italy), Lana Čmajčanin (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Austria).

The exhibition is curated by Jovanka Popova 

Iliana Petrusevska’s graphic design for the exhibition is inspired by Hristina Ivanoska’s “Archetype Open Form” typography.

Opening: Friday, 20 October 2023 at 20:00 Hours.

The exhibition is financially supported by the Ministry of Culture of R.N. Macedonia and Tikvesh.

Cover photo: Igor Grubic, Do Animals … ?, 2017, photography. Courtesy of the Artist 

 

 

Jakup Ferri, “The Frequency of Frankness”, 2012-2022, Installation; embroideries, drawings. Courtesy of the Artist

In his artistic practice, Jakup Ferri has conducted research and collaborative relationships with,outsider and folk artists, seeing huge value in their engagement with handmade materials such as carpets, glass, wood and textiles and the locally-specific methods for their production. Recurring subjects in his practice include the desire for contact and feeling as part of community, as well as experiences of failure and questions involving identity. Influenced by outsider and vernacular art, though predominantly guided by his own intuition and imagination, Ferri draws all manners of creatures conversing, collaborating and co-existing. Plants, animals, humans and hybrids all share the same magical picnic blanket, as it were: they make kin with one another. The artist’s minutely detailed drawings are the place where he does his thinking. They also serve as the model for his paintings, embroideries and carpets, the latter two being produced together with traditional craftspeople.

Darko Aleksovski, “Never Not in Love”, 2023, Installation,  drawing with pastels and charcoal on plasterboards; Letters on paper. Courtesy of the Artist

“Never Not in Love” is an interdisciplinary and participatory art project composed of two separate works: “Love Letters to Loneliness” and “Waves”, complementing each other in an exhibition setup. “Love Letters to Loneliness” derive from intimate confessions in letter form, without the possibility of them being chronologically located, and are offered to be read with the opportunity given to the reader to enter a personal world with intimate emotional issues and situations often difficult to translate into words. These unaddressed and never sent letters – but directed to specific people – were composed, edited and typewritten continuously from 2018. The editing process was guided by the effort of finding the past versions of oneself, and typewriting was used as a manual process that emphasizes the materiality of a letter as an object in this one-way correspondence.

“Waves” is a site-specific installation that depicts a continuous seascape that is not a specific place, but rather a place drawn from memory. The drawings are supposed to place the audience – the readers of the letters – in a specifically constructed setting that evokes a contextual interpretation of the love letters inspired by Dutch seventeenth-century genre painting.

The project was produced and exhibited for the first time as a site-specific installation at PrivatePrint Studio (Skopje, North Macedonia).

Ilija Prokopiev, “Relics of Mutual Understanding”, 2015-2023; series of assemblages. Courtesy of the Artist and PrivatePrint Studio.

“Relics of Mutual Understanding” is an installation that delves into the delicate threads that connect us all through the exploration of human experience as a collective narrative, a journey marked by vulnerability and resilience, fragility and strength. The artworks are a testament to the intricate ties that bind us, the stories that define us, and the beauty that emerges from our collective vulnerability, emphasizing our shared humanity and the interconnectedness of our existence with other species.

Prokopiev celebrates the resilience of nature and the delicate balance between the organic and the crafted. His work serves as a metaphor for our shared fragility, but also toughness and resistance within the larger ecosystem.

Zorica Zafirovska, “Spaces of Homelessness”, 2016,  Installation, mural, publication and video. Courtesy of the Artist

In recent decades, in crisis regions, human life has seemed to be less and less valuable. The number of displaced and vulnerable people is gradually increasing and more and more people are forced to leave their homes due to persecution, legal regulations, economic crisis, violence and wars. Refugees, migrants and asylum seekers are forced to be constantly mobile, taking long and risky journeys until they manage to reach their next destination, which most often does not offer security and conditions for a better life. People under forced mobility are increasingly faced with discrimination, extortion, robbery, sexual and labor exploitation, and slavery, or they are left at the mercy of human and organ traffickers.

The project “Spaces of Homelessness” is the result of volunteering practice, research and a series of works created in Skopje, Tabanovce, New York and Berlin, and it includes re-contextualized spaces, facilities and testimonies of refugees, vulnerable groups and asylum seekers who are forced to reside there. At the same time, it is the artist’s attempt to bring the visitors closer and in touch with the dehumanizing conditions and destinies that individuals, families and groups of people face every day. Hence, the project  monitors and challenges public policies and our positions regarding the rights of displaced families, individuals and groups striving to rebuild their lives and to guarantee a better future to their children, while at the same time reconsideres the selective solidarity and will to mitigate the situation in our country and beyond.

The project is exhibited in an institutional space for the first time.

Kapwani Kiwanga, “Flowers for Africa”, 2013 – ongoing project; Installation. Courtesy of the Artist and Kapwani Kiwanga Studio; Production of the flower arrangement: studio for flower design “Cvetna fabrika”.

Flowers for Africa is an ongoing project that began with research into visual archives relating to the independence of African countries. Kiwanga locates archival images featuring flower arrangements used in pivotal political negotiations and ceremonies leading to the sovereignty of different African countries. She then takes these images to a local florist and instructs them to recreate the bouquets found in the photographs, as closely as possible using available flowers. The fresh arrangements are put on display and left to wilt over the duration of the exhibition, just as memory might fade over time.

Kathleen Ritter – 2021

Driant Zeneli, “How Deep Can a Dragonfly Swim Under the Ocean?”, 2021, Video, 11’23’’; Courtesy of the artist.

“How deep can a Dragonfly swim under the Ocean?”, the second chapter of the trilogy “The Animals. Once Upon a time… in the present time.”, tells the story of a dragonfly that, despite being able to move its wings, is condemned to never fly, thus failing to get away from the ocean.

The dragonfly, a symbol of spiritual depth, power, change of perspective, and adaptation, recalls the real experience of Rilond Risto, who spent 21 years of isolation in Albanian prisons, creating mechanical insects capable of flying from various circumstantial tools during his last period of imprisonment. The dragonfly moves inside the Pyramid of Tirana, a memorial monument to the Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha built in the late 1980s. Since the 90s, this building has experienced different moments of transformation while having different functions. It is currently being repurposed to become a new hub for Tirana.

Among the architecture of the brutalist monument, the dragonfly feeds on the fossil of an octopus in order to survive, but at the same time, it is held by it without the possibility to fly and get away from the Pyramid. The artist uses this image as a metaphor for the perennial attempt of man to detach himself from a context imposed by society.

Lana Čmajčanin, “Balkangreuel–Balkan Cruelty”, 2020; print on wallpaper. Courtesy of the Artist.

Balkan Cruelty explores the extent to which culture and art participate in creating the notions of antiheroes and that “we are not like them“. It is based on the graphic portfolio Balkangreuel by Gottfried Sieben. The portfolio was created in 1909, after Bosnia and Hercegovina was annexed to the Austro-Hungarian Empire as the outcome of the Berlin Congress, which redistributed colonies among the European powers. Delivered in varied formats and languages, the graphic portfolio was intended for the elite and was very popular at the time. Balkangreuel, which was actually a pornographic material that served the purpose of wartime propaganda, dehumanized the enemy who was portrayed as the Balkans savage, while a woman’s body stereotypically assumed a role of the territory subject to usurpation and conquest.

Balkangreuel – Balkan Cruelty, the wall installation, repossesses these motifs, but they can be discerned only at closer examination. It off-sets the notion of “exotic” Balkan countries, which are still very much alive, against a comprehensive design embedding the above-mentioned motifs. The wallpaper design leans on the Viennese variant of the Toile de Jouy with attractive decorative motifs characteristic of luxurious interiors in the 19th century. The floral motifs were created from 12 endemic flowers known to have grown on the territories of the 19th-century Balkan. At first glance, these beautiful elements dominate the work, but a more thorough look reveals the violent motifs, the ones taken from Balkangreuel: 12 motifs, from 12 pages in the graphic portfolio, showing soldiers wearing uniforms of Balkan countries.  By employing such dual ornamentation, this wall installation points to the popularity of prejudice about the Other and the East, which at the same time serves to highlight one’s own exceptionality and alleged civility.

Igor Grubic, “Do Animals…?”,  2017, Multidisciplinary project; Posters; Courtesy of the Artist.

“Do Animals…?” is a multimedia project based on the artist’s research on former slaughterhouses in northern Italy. As a staunch supporter of animal rights and moreover as an activist, Grubic investigates the psychological effect these factories of death have on human consciousness. The work is composed of a series of five posters that feature photographs of now empty former slaughterhouses, overwritten with the artist’s questions that appear in the form of anonymous ads.

Silent and cold, but at the same time distinctly disturbing, the images are visually conceived as the path an animal takes from life to death, from light to darkness. Like a surreal call to public moral responsibility, the artist introduces the general public to his examination of humankind’s conflicted feelings towards animals, taking full advantage of commercial mainstream media and urban billboards.

Meriem Bennani and Orian Barki, “2 Lizards”, 2020; video, 22’26’’. Courtesy of the artists.

“2 Lizards” depicts a surrealist view of the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic unfolding in New York City. In the film, two animated anthropomorphized lizards are protagonists, moving through a city gripped by a pandemic, extended isolation, and cries for social justice reform. It highlights the helplessness and uncertainty experienced by many at the time, as well as the unexpected moments of shared community and connection. Originally released as an eight-part episodic series on Bennani’s Instagram account, the Whitney’s presentation of “2 Lizards” is its first institutional screening as a narrative film and became part of the MoMA Collection.

PAST EXHIBITIONS

Continuities: French Artists in the MSU Skopje Collections

10/12/ 2023 - 22/02/ 2024

All That We Have in Common

20/10/ 2023 - 12/05/ 2024

Landscape of Anxiety - 11 Critical Hotspots in R.N. Macedonia

04/10/ 2023 - 09/10/ 2023

BISTA - Biennial of Students of Architecture 2023

20/09/ 2023 - 28/09/ 2023