festival suvremene umjetnosti / 10. festival suvremene umjetnosti Almissa Open Art '' Kuda idemo?''
CHOOSING THE FUTURE
The very title of the performance festival in Omiš, Almissa, is derived from the name of the ancient city. Toponyms, people’s names and festival titles often suggest what the event is about, so we could assume that Almissa festival is establishing a sort of connection with the city’s history. When I was first invited to curate this edition of Almissa, at the first moment I thought how important it was — aside from the omnipresent and museumized past of the Mediterranean cities, including Omiš – to think about the future, and to use the festival to speculate about the idea how the world and people would look in near and distant future.
By giving contemporary artists the opportunity to mark, map the city and include new models of reflection through their temporary, ephemeral interventions looking from one side backwards (establishing new links with the past, age, and such) and, on the other hand, into the future, considering models that are currently mapping our reality, which take the role of defining the human future. What kind of schools, what technologies of the self, what attitude towards artificial intelligence, algorithms etc. are developed today? How much are the past and the future intertwined, and how exactly do contemporary artists relate to knowledge that has been rooted in generations, how do they relate to innovative technological achievements, and what are the ways to connect these two different principles?
The festival program offers various forms of exhibiting, from performance, intervention, projections, presentation to discourse, readings, lecture-performances and exhibitions.
10th Contemporary art festival Almissa Open Art
Theme: „Where are we going?“
Curator: Sandra Sterle,
August 8-14, 2019, Omiš
“Almissa Open Art”, a festival with this year’s edition, titled “Kuda idemo?” („Where are we going?“) took place in Omiš, lasting 6 days and including a series of exhibition activities, performances, dance, interactive installations, project presentations, lectures and casual mingling.
One may assume that the festival title’s question was answered and vibrating shades of black through all the works and performances. But, this would be a more correct assumption: the festival’s works tackled heavy topics, including the possibility of developing a sustainable model for humans to coexist with the environment, flora and fauna. As Suzana Marjanić (who followed the whole festival) mentioned in her text “Preživljavanje u Antropocenu” („Surviving in the Anthropocene“), this is a paraphrase of Gotovac’s question „Kuda idemo, ne pitajte“ („Don’t ask where we are going – “), which later became the title of his retrospection exhibition in Rijeka (MMSU). On the other hand, Gauguin’s questions „Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?“ were used as a platform for artists to explore their fascination with personal archetypes, plants and animals, in search for a more sustainable development.
An exhibition in the Omiš City Museum opened the festival, displaying works by 6 contemporary artists: photographs and photomontages (Glorija Lizde, Lana Stojićević, Eric Del Castillo), installations (Neli Ružić), performative painting (Sven Klobučar) and 3-D animation (Veljko Popović). The exhibit was set up in space so that it could be „read“ as a spiral, with the work „Ona koja mjeri“ („She who measures“) by Veljko Popović shown on a TV placed on the gallery floor – being simultaneously the starting and ending point of the spiral orbit. Dealing with the future (which is in fact already here), the work questions the role of screens and their contents which determine and measure the human mind. Who or what „dictates“ the program and how scary is the realization that, as humans, we are deduced to biological matter which absorbs the content made solely to entertain us and distract us from ourselves? How liable to manipulation are we, how can we choose not to participate in such a system?
During his performative painting and drawing, Sven Klobučar painted a scene on a wall next to Popović – Zigmunda being washed in the morgue / unearthing Zigmund / Zigmund on his way to cremation. “Zigmund” is one of Klobučar’s dead people, ghosts that are invisible in reality but still surround us in a way. Sven chooses death and afterlife as his point of interest. In the framework of this exhibition, death is shown through a ritual painting performance as a sort of solution for dealing with the illogic of life. Zigmund, turning into a ghost, becomes an accomplishment, finalization and purpose of life.
The largest gallery wall carried a digital collage by Eric del Castillo, titled “Kolaps” („Collapse“). This large black and white format uses images from various sources in order to create a complex dystopian image of reality and architecture which is about to collapse (or already has).
Next to the gallery’s entrance, Glorija Lizde displayed her small-format photograph from the “F20.5” series. This photograph was printed as a festival announcement on a jumbo poster at the entrance to the city as well as on the festival’s Web site www.almissa.org (all designed by Oleg Šuran). The photograph shows the portrait of the artist wearing a turban, with black tape stretching her eyes wide open. This image reinterprets a scene from one of Glorija’s father’s hallucinations, just as the whole series “F20.5” which borrowed its title from the code for her father’s illness. Such an intimate exploration of family trauma through photography is one of the most valuable aspects of visual arts – through a therapeutic result authors not only heal and explain themselves, but also their families, audiences and possibly future generations.
A wall installation “Treće vrijeme” („Third time“), by Neli Ružić is divided into 3 equal squares. The left one shows a clock, the right one shows that same clock with a delay of 5 hours. The central square shows a circle, knitted with black thread. The thread is connected to the mechanism of both left and right clocks, changing the shape of the installation. Black thread is usually seen as a symbol of time.
Lana Stojićević displayed two of her photo-series. “Bilo koje mjesto u bilo kojem gradu” („Any place in any town“) is a wall painting used in Hvar theater as a universal scene. Lana uses Hvar’s legends, historically unrelated stories which are united in a spectacle with no beginning or end.
The other series, “Sunny Side” was inspired by the innovatively built pool in Primošten. Hotel „Zora“ which is now privatized and refurbished, was built in 1969. A tourism ad from 1971 shows Orson Welles spending time in „Zora“, which inspired Lana Stojićević to build a narrative about the associative futuristic pool dome, using scenography and costume design which create the „third time“.
That same night, Ilija Šoškić, the eldest participant of the festival and a well-known artist, shifted the audience’s attention to his own, personal time, which allowed his performance to take place. Without a word, he calmed and slowed everybody around, using gestures and movement to tell a story about his bicycle and an accident he survived recently. He took this damaged bike to his apartment in Split, mounting it to a 100-year old Platanus tree with the help from his younger colleague Gildo Bavčević. The audience and animals (cats and dogs) paid special attention, since the tree became their main point of interest. The artist united the whole Smokvica (Omiš quarter) and made a link to the video performance from Rome’s former psychiatric hospital. Namely, this video could be seen in a courtyard next to the Platanus tree. It recorded the artist wearing a trench coat and a hat, pushing a log inside the hospital using his leg. This shows the link between the living tree (Platanus) in a live performance and the dead one (log) in the video performance
The youngest participant, Nina Kamenjarin tried to define time in her own way, using Facebook’s live streaming. Her performance “Go with the flow” showed her doing things young people do, trying to react to the question „Where are we going?“. Emphasizing this specific aspect of youth – lack of reflection and being liable to trends – she didn’t simply uncritically embrace social media – because her work is searching for the difference between a consumer and an explorer. Her performance connected her and her environment to social networks, reminding us of the way we all live nowadays.
Nina Kamenjarin also re-performed a work by Sanja Iveković from 2015, titled “Upalim motor i nisam više na Zemlji. Možda odem u raj, ali idem paklenski brzo” („I turn the engine on and I am no longer on Earth. I may go to heaven, but I am going damn fast“). This performance activated the audience and, with Iveković’s political and feminist activism, marked the peak of the evening. Nina was spinning on an indoor bike, followed by Brigitte Bardot’s „Harley Davidson“. Going through photos of popular female performing artist at the same time, Nina questions the woman’s position and her role in this time and society as well as in media. The performance took place on the street, next to the entrance to the Fošal building and its 2 info board. One board explains that it’s a space for an association that deals with women with breast cancer, and the other says that it’s an elderly home. With her choice of this space, Nina answered the festival’s question with a feminist performance where women look at women, women support women, or continue where another woman has stopped.
Another evening program took place by the Mirabela fortress, a location related to the emergence of Almissa festival in 2010. This year’s program dealt with different communication patterns and using/decoding new or old codes. Vitar Drinković placed his interactive installation “Plant blindness” high in the Fortica window. Sensors were used to connect the plant to Arduino and RGB lights which reacted to micro changes in the electrical potential of the plant.
This way, the change inside the plant was more visible through the change of the lighting in the space, making the audience more aware of the plant’s presence. Matea Šabić Sabljić created an interactive installation, offering the audience teh ability to type the words „Where are we going?“ in Morse’s code. Light signals transmitted this question (not expecting an answer since Morse’s code is out of use). Still, since this kind of works always brings surprises, one girl, knowing the basics of Morse’s code, typed „SOS“ instead of the question offered by the artist. Soon, police reached the Mirabela fortress, believing that that was a call for help. At the same time, a Swedish artist Johan Zetterquist created noise music with his guitar, playing his “Study for a Monument” for over an hour.
Two works dealt with animals and their relationship with humans. Performance-lecture by Hrvoje Cokarić and Vanja Pagar titled “Towards Europe”, deals with an animal once typical for Dalmatia – the donkey. The artists use this project to work at the forest- park Marjan, in the former ZOO. The audiovisual material created through this project was shown in Omiš. The artists help donkeys to re-establish their position in society, also developing souvenir-like produce (donkey turds). There is also an idea of donkeys carrying solar panels, audiovisual equipment and Internet broadcast, reminding us to all the bonds we used to have with donkeys.
Ivana Filip performed her “Pseća mudrost — nenasilni PR za ljude” („Dog wisdom – nonviolent PR for people“). Two dog trainers helped her interact and communicate with dogs in a space surrounded by balls. Passersby showed how much sensibility is left because their reaction varied / from wanting to join in to complete indifference. Finally, reading the Dog manifest, Ivana Filip touches the general topics of life.
Tonkica is an 18-year old dog (about 120 human years) and a loyal attendant of all festival events. She wisely watched all the performances and lectures lying down, paying special attention to this performance made for dogs.
A speculative design installation “Život nakon turizma” („Life after tourism“) by Ivica Mitrović i Oleg Šuran in the church of the Holy Ghost tries to speculate situations from the near future. The year is 2055, global climate changes caused extreme changes in life and economic conditions in the Adriatic. High temperatures, dry weather and many fires endangered the usual way of life. Split, the capital of the Croatian coast, once an industrial and tourist center is searching for new ways of survival. One solution is going back to traditional manufacturing. Sea levels have risen, making the old city center ideal for resilient sea organisms such as single-cell algae, Artemia salina and anemone. Hence, the Peristyle is transformed into a breeding pool, while surrounding buildings take care of drying, conserving packing and distribution. This production uses refused materials from the „tourist times“ as well as from the „pre-tourist times“. Citizens form small guilds to take care of preparation and product placement. This speculative design project came about as a result of collaborating with the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries.
Irma Omerzo gathered the audience inside a large transparent plastic baloon in the playground by the elementary school „Josip Pupačić“. Filipa Bavčević, Ema Crnić and Nastasja Štefanić performed a dance choreography, followed by Roko Crnić playing the contrabass. Moving towards, away from and with the balloon, the dancers created an odd ambient of a futuristic space, emphasized by the balloon’s membrane. The school space gave this work new meaning, highlighting the „story of change within public space, about erasing the heroic narratives, about building new encounters“.
English artists Anna and Check Best were similarly inspired, they showed and performed their “Plastic Water Stone”, a video which shows them singing the words and ideas dealing with pollution and the concern for the environment.
Accompanied by Gildo Bavčević, I performed the last work in the city, titled „Kuda idemo?“ („Where are we going?“). We used this work to expand the festival’s questions, pointing out the possibility of branching the question towards the exploration of the concept of time and space, rowing down the Cetina river in different directions.
Last day of the festival brought about the open form „Otok ljubavi – Cetina“ („Island of Love – Cetina“), focusing on informal mingling and changing the focus from art to life. Many artists, authors and citizens joined us to socialize and thinking together.
The festival also included 3 lectures and a projection of UMAS students’ works. Jurica Sabljić, president of “Sagitta – association for development and conservation of the maritime culture”, introduced us to a project for reconstruction of a 12th-century Omiš pirate ship Sagitta (Omiška strijela / „Omiš arrow“), under a triad of questions – “Kako, zašto, kuda?” („How, why, where?“). This contextualized the history of Omiš pirates as the Kačić dukes navy (in the free mediaeval commune of Omiš), with Sagitta as their symbol. Sabljić, led by enthusiasm and fascinated by Omiš history, pirates and Sagitta herself, got a lot of attention. The lecture explained in the best way how past, present and future shape each other.
Later on, the City Library hosted a book promotion for “Anamnesis: Dijalozi umjetnosti u javnom prostoru” (“Anamnesis: Dialogues of art in the public space“) by Sandra Uskoković. The art historian answers main questions, explaining motifs and ideas which bothered her while working on this book. The work is dedicated to culture and art practices which establish models for active participation in creating and changing urban culture as well as urban space, with the goal of understanding it and using entirely. A critical study of perseverance and tho cognitive potentials of art interventions in public space is popular, especially in these times when we critically question art practices of creating a city and the „urban“ within the public space. In this way, the book touched upon the emergence and meaning of festivals such as Almissa Open Art.
 Vlado Gotovac, Croatian poet and politician (1930-2000)
20:00 Gradski muzej Omiš – Otvorenje izložbe Kuda idemo? – Neli Ružić, Lana Stoićević, Gloria Lizde, Eric Del Castillo, Sven Klobučar, Veljko Popović
Nina Kamenjarin, on-line performans Go with the flow
22:00 Poljički trg / Četvrt kralja Slavca – Ilija Šoškić, performans Res publica
20:30 Tvrđava Mirabella
Johan Zatterquist, performans / instalacija Study for a Monument
Matea Šabić Sabljić, interaktivna instalacija: Kamo idemo?
Vitar Drinković, interaktivna instalacija: Plant blindness
studentski radovi: Revija UMAS Film i Video
18:00 Gradski muzej Omiš – Jurica Sabljić – projekt rekonstrukcije omiškog gusarskog broda iz 12 stoljeća Sagitta “Omiška strijela”. Kako, zašto, kuda?
20:00 Trg kralja Tomislava (OŠ Josip Pupačić) – plesna predstava Opna; produkcija: Marmot; ideja i koreografija: Irma Omerzo; plesna izvedba: Filipa Bavčević, Ema Crnić, Nastasja Štefanić; glazbena kompozicija i izvedba na kontrabasu: Roko Crnić; scenografija: Numen i Vanja Magić; dramaturgija: Jasna Jasna Žmak
18:00 Crkva svetoga Duha – spekulativni dizajn / instalacija Život nakon turizma, Ivica Mitrović, Oleg Šuran
20:00 Gradska knjižnica Omiš – predstavljanje knjige Anamnesis: Dijalozi umjetnosti u javnom prostoru, Sandra Uskoković
21:30 Ulica Fošal
Ivana Filip, performans: Pseća mudrost — nenenasilni PR za ljude
Nina Kamenjarin, ponovna izvedba Sanja Iveković – “Upalim motor i nisam više na zemlji. Možda odem u raj ali idem paklenski brzo”, performans, 12. 12. 2015.
13. 8. Utorak
20:00 Crkva svetoga Duha – Anna Best sa Chek Best, video / performans Plastic Water Stone
21:30 Borići – Hrvoje Cokarić i Vanja Pagar – performans predavanje Towards Europe, video: Darko Škrobonja
22:30 performans, Sandra Sterle, Gildo Bavčević
14:00 Otok ljubavi – Cetina – zatvaranje festivala – otvorena umjetnička forma