I was both pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised by a call from HULU (Croatian Association of Visual Artists) to be a part of 39th Split Salon curatorial team. Pleasantly because I thought it was, in some way, an honour and appreciation of my artistic work so far, and unpleasantly because of the very idea of me evaluating my colleagues’ work. Besides facing a fresh challenge, my decision to accept this invitation was partly influenced by the curatorial team selection. Dalibor is an experienced professional with „surgical“ approach, while Božo is a new hope of Split curatorial scene. Already on the first meeting we decided to do an „open“ Salon, a survey of whole Split art scene.
This type of Salon was actually necessary. A large part of HULU members were dissatisfied with the way curators organised past Salons, inviting only a part of the scene to participate in the exhibition, around twenty same „faces“, according to them. Our curatorial team sent a call for participation to all artists within the association. Without „rigid“ selection, and provided with a suggestion or two, every applicant gained an opportunity to present their work. This exhibition is actually a survey and inventure of Split art scene. Unfortunately, a considerable number of artists did not react to the topic „Representations of Split“, which is absolutely incomprehensible to me. So the first split refers to artists who respond to the theme and those who do not. People could see further dividedness in the display, where authors’ work ranged from „late Romanesque“ style to contemporary „post-modern tendencies“. All in all, to each his own.
An important segment of whole story is the video under working title „Abeceda“, in the organisation of curatorial team. It shows around hundred artists, art historians and curators from Split talking about Split art scene and their individual positions within it in a short interview. I was surprised at the number of people that accepted to participate in the interview. Most of the collocutors came at the interview sceptical and worried, and left with a smile. Through this unusual experience I faced various energies and „karmas“ of Split art scene participants. Some of them had ego so inflated it almost consumed the whole curatorial team, camera man and the equipment. Some of them were very humorous in their own humourlesness, some talk better than they usually can, some are embarrasingly creative and smart, some are so humble that I would agree to be a guarantor for their long-term bank loan… Artists are wonderment in the world, not even to mention curators. In any case, conversation and mutual communication shift boundaries, bring down prejudices and makes us closer to one another.
The montage of this video was exhausting, but I enjoyed working with Ivan Perić and Marko Jukić. Ivan Efendić also helped. Dragan Kovačević is responsible for tone and image processing. Their enthusiasm, along with youth generation’s artworks on this Salon give hope for a creative tomorrow.
In the process of organising the exhibition and its display we were continuously exposed to pressure, „control“ and prohibitions by Ms Narcisa (Narcisa Bolšec Ferri – director of the City Museum of Split) so at one point we thought about relocating Split Salon to the town of Sinj. Almost Sinj… Somehow, we have remained here, but if we do not consider Diocletian’s Basements a first line of defence of Split artists’ dignity, Sinj is our future.
On the other hand, during the whole process of creating 39th Split Salon, followed by the hard work and insomnia, a very positive atmosphere dominated and that is the real success for all of us. With this „broad“ Salon, a new platform has been opened for a dialogue regarding the future of HULU and whole art scene in Split.