1. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE A COMMUNITY?
Any community is a collective or gathering of people who share circumstances or a set of similar values in some way. I feel most authentic communities are created specific to place, time, organised or traditional culture, public or common interest.
2. WE ARE LIVING IN DIFFICULT TIMES SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECTED BY ENVIRONMENTAL THREATS. DO YOU THINK THAT THIS PROBLEM CAN BE RESPONSIBLY REFLECTED IN THE WORK OF ARTISTS AND IN THE ART-WORLD IN GENERAL?
The 39th EVA International is being developed in relation to the “Golden Vein” – a 19th century descriptor encompassing the bountiful Limerick/Tipperary pastures in Midwestern Ireland. Industrial agricultural production, commercialisation and global trade have all heavily affected this area and the industries it has included. The Golden Vein is in essence a starting point for ideas of land, and its contested values in Ireland today.
Karmen Krasić Kožul
Artists that I’m in contact with are all extremely aware and responsible humans and professionals. But I’m afraid that’s not enough. I think we have reached the point when we need a revolutionary approach, and I don’t see this among artists. But I do see their transformative power and I feel their pain and frustration about these issues.
Marko Jozic & Tatjana Mateša
If responsibly means this threat is being taken into consideration not only in our home, legislated by state law and is transferred from topics “to talk about” into everyday action – then art should not be different than other fields. I don’t think it’s a question of whether or not the environmental challenge can be addressed through art. If it were, we’d tremendously reduce the significance and urgency of the existence of this life threatening problem. Of course, this also must be addressed through art, especially when it comes to the usage of materials. It’s also very important to consider the events where art pieces are presented (or even when the art piece is the event itself). There are many opportunities to stress this subject through various sub-levels. Even though ecology might not be the focus point of the artist, it has to be included in the atmosphere of the events that present them in the same way that we don’t forget to serve water to the audience or install a light installation.
Danijela Oberhofer Tonković
Climate change, which politics and world economic forces deny, and many of us choose to ignore, threatens the survival of Earth as we know it. Of course we should contribute with our projects and through working with other artists. Yes, we should definitely support more artists and processes exploring the intersection of arts and climate change.
Of course artists are influenced by the environment and they should pay attention to all the exchanges and problems related to it. Artists have the capacity to show the world and problems in a different manner, with several and sometimes unexpected tools. They have the ability to tell the truth in a very direct way, without filters, giving people new meanings and interpretations of the world.
I believe that the work of artists and the art world in general can responsibly reflect the difficult times we are all facing. Through art, we can challenge ideas and ask questions which sometimes words cannot convey. These ideas and questions are often open and leave the viewer to consider their own response. This encounter, between the artist and the audience, might bring us face to face with issues we weren’t aware of or are beyond our control. In 2018, artist Olafur Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing teamed up to create Ice Watch at the Tate Modern in London. 24 enormous blocks of ice, weighing between 1.5 and 5 tonnes each, were taken from Nuup Kangerlua Fjord in Greenland after becoming detached from the ice sheet as a result of global warming. The ice blocks were then installed outside the front of the Tate Modern on the banks of the River Thames and left to melt. This allowed the public to come face to face with, and even feel the ice melting through their fingers. They were confronted with a truth that is undeniable and which we are all a part of. As witnesses, we are all responsible for bringing about the necessary changes.
In my opinion, nowadays we live in a state of continuous change, where everything is becoming more advanced and/or more modernised. I don’t believe that art has the power to change the way we live. However, it has the power to draw our attention to and highlight certain issues or problematics of the contemporary world. Art is not a tool/method/vehicle, it is more of an expression/opinion that influences people through its visual form. I believe that art has the power to change the way we see the world and other people, but not by showing us what we should do. Rather it creates a projection – a mix between imagination and reality – that offers a different/new perspective on certain things, it moves people or offers them new experiences which, in turn, influence the way we think and live. For me, art evokes certain feelings and emotions that lead to thinking and reassessing, and sometimes engaging in certain issues or problematics which can subsequently lead to actions.
I believe that environmental issues are of significant importance nowadays. As the curator of this project I have taken on the mission of reflecting them, not just in everyday routines, but also on institutional and political levels. For me, environmental issues are one of the symptoms of modern Western culture, which has drained the ecosystem of our planet and deprived humanity of the essentials of a fulfilling coexistence. I strongly believe art has the power to initiate a shift in the paradigm of society.
3. WHAT WAS THE MAIN FOCUS WHILE WORKING WITH COMMUNITIES AND WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES YOU HAVE ENCOUNTERED?
Raluca Elena Doroftei
The main focus of the Meta Cultural Foundation residency is the Slon surroundings – tradition, history and nature, through a contemporary perspective. Working with a community from a vil- lage has its peculiarities. It is necessary to gain their confidence, to be honest, to speak in their language and sometimes to use intermediaries, people they trust. They are guided by hierarchies, mentalities, are conservative, critical and can be slightly suspicious, although they are generally very open, generous and curious. There are limits that you cannot pass, and subjects that you cannot approach. It is a reality you must consider.
Karmen Krasić Kožul
The main focus was to make all the participants feel welcome and safe during the whole process. Nevertheless, at certain points, an open end situation creates feelings of destabilization. This “we’re together in this shit” feeling is a turning point when we start to support each other to adjust to new conditions and where togetherness is born. We hear a lot about stepping out of comfort zones as individuals, but until we step out of it as a community, no bigger changes can be expected. The development of community life is as important as personal growth and there are some skills which we can learn, instead of complaining about living in an isolated world and waiting for it to happen.
I would say that I took quite a liberal approach in allowing the artist to control the level of their engagement with the communities they were working with. My intention was to introduce the community to the artist, and vice versa, and not to further control the process. However, I understand now that some control should be maintained, especially if the artist is not used to working with communities or developing their project in a socially engaged way. It requires constant encouragement and searching for opportunities to engage the artist in working with the community. The main focus, for me, is to make sure that those who are included in the project are considered equal contributors on the same level as the artist or curator. It means that everyone who contributes stories and/or ideas should be acknowledged (at least) and paid (at best). One of the main tasks, for me, is to establish a common understanding between all of the participants and explain the purpose of the project in order to manage the expectations of everyone involved. I also strive to involve members of the community in the planning and decision-making process of the project. I feel that, in this way, people are unconsciously willing to take more responsibility/ownership for the results of the project and also ensure the sustainability/legacy of the project and/or artwork, because it lies in their best interest to maintain it. In this sense, the project becomes sustainable into the future.
Working with communities is a long-term process of building a relationship with community members, based on personal experiences and mutual understanding. This is very much like becoming a member of the community, a process that can hardly be embraced within the project timeline. In order to facilitate co-creation emanating from mutual interest and willingness to explore and experiment which, by the way, is one of this project’s key objectives, my endeavour was to recognise a com- mon goal which would be meaningful for both the artist and the community.
4. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT AUTHORSHIP?
Raluca Elena Doroftei
I think that the questions of ethics and authorship are very relevant in art production today. When communities are involved in artistic projects, things seem to be more unclear. As a curator, I see the artist’s work in a community as a musical play “x artist featuring y community”. In the case of a movie, there is the director and the whole team that worked to finish the film, mentioned in the end credits. The author of an art piece is the artist, but I think that artists should give more credit to those who inspired them and helped create the art piece.
Marko Jozic & Tatjana Mateša
The crisis of values all around the world and in all spheres of human activity and thinking is quite noticeable. In the same way we can see how art has not been spared this trend. From personal experience we can see how the relationship between artists – art piece – community is defined differently and is constantly changing. It seems that a lot is left to be agreed upon concerning organisation and artists, although some replication in the absence of ideas can be seen (especially in defining the authorship of an art piece). We still don’t know where to draw the line and countable/contracted are mostly the things that can be measured. Nowadays, when the “superstar” tag is available more than ever, it seems that the question of authorship is raised from the personal feelings and attitude of the artist in regard to what is valuable, to be protected and rewarded. There are also many cases where the tricky notion of the “common good” can be used as an empty phrase for not valuing the artist’s work enough, where the volunteer position of the artist is implied. This is just a rough notion of some of the basic problematics of the art created for/in a community. In practice, these problems are created and solved in the personal relationship between artist-organisation.
When working on and agreeing on a project with premises like Magic Carpets’, everyone involved should
be aware that project authorship is co-created or authored collaboratively. Of course I fully defend the copyright of artists and creators and I think that one cannot work globally on a form of individual authorlessness, although the issue of the dissolution of authorship is nothing new. However, this project can and should serve to raise pertinent questions on this subject through reflections, also empirical, that come from the experimental methods of the work processes themselves. How can you define the authorship of a project that has so many involved in its creative, conceptual and artistic structuring? There is the figure of the curator, the figure of the artists and the figure of the community that is intended to be collaborative and co-creator.
5. DO YOU PERCEIVE THE MAGIC CARPETS TEAM AS A COMMUNITY? WHAT VALUES AND MERITS DO YOU ALL SHARE?
Yes, I perceive the Magic Carpets team as a community of curators and directors who are all dedicated to producing genuine and embedded art projects within their own contexts. By inviting emerging artists from all over Europe to take part in the project we are working together in a joint vision to encourage mobility, openness and collaboration across the continent. Through sharing our previous knowledge and experiences, as well as what we are learning along the way, we are growing together as a community of arts professionals and European citizens.