15.11.2013. - 22.12.2013.

The city at a second glance

Artists: Tonka Maleković, Božena Končić Badurina, Igor Kuduz, Martin Mrzljak, Tanja Vujasinović, Ana Zubak

Curators:  Udruga Slobodne veze (Tonka Maleković, Ivana Meštrov) i Tanja Vujasinović

What does the city represent to us, how do we see it, perceive it, imagine it, claim and appropriate it – are the questions we wish to simultaneously pose to ourselves, as the authors of this project, and to the citizens of the city of Velika Gorica of which we become (agree to be) temporary residents, by acting within its context. Velika Gorica, a space within which Gallery Galženica acts, represents to us, who do not live there, a space of shifting identities, primarily associated with the Zagreb agglomeration and the adjacent airport. The fact that it is the seventh-largest city in Croatia with its own internal logics which go beyond of just being a space of transit, as it is perceived at first glance, is usually disregarded. Therefore, after being invited to participate in the program of Gallery Gorica 2013, an issue that presented itself at a very early stage was how to deal with the image of the cityscape and use the new media for rendering of this encounter. This seemed to be the only way for urban interventionism and approaching the city’s texture and its citizens through a brief exhibition experiment, done in modest production.

 And it all started with film and the urge to imagine space.

A city featured as a movie background is often a praise given in its own right. However, it is unknown to us whether Velika Gorica has ever been used as a film set of great cinematic expectations. Film, a widespread and a predominant medium which, paraphrasing Žižek’s The Perverts Guide to Cinema, dominates over and constructs the landscape of our desires; it directly and efficiently imputes spatial imaginations and other images of the real. Thus, it is not surprising that this ninety-minute clip of reality is so in demand and widely produced.

It is also worth noting that film, in its digital form, and video as a medium of artistic preoccupations have one very important inherent component, also mentioned by one of the pioneers of video art – a prominent conceptual artist Goran Trbuljak, way back in 1977. He pointed out, commenting on the democratic potential of the video medium, the following: “[...] if an opportunity to use video would present itself to someone who has never used it before, one would soon realize that s/he is enraptured by the charms of this most seductive medium. Perhaps it is its democratic quality to stir creativity in people what will, in the future, when everybody is going to be well stocked on video technology, bring forth a time in art without the

artist, where everybody will be doing art.”i Indeed, we have technological processes to thank that the majority of us have the possibility to make a more or less rudimentary “short film” or video. Specifically, if we consider our contemporary geopolitical situation, these tools are what enables these different realities “in crisis” to be documented and other views and statements to be introduced into the dominant medial flux. However, what interested us from the onset in this project/process, tying it with a specific micro location and the city of Velika Gorica, was not so much what people record with their new media devices but how do we urge them to imagine differently the images they perceive which would surpass a mere assertion of encounters, and how do people direct their own other/different (presumably desired, and thus better) realities.

Therefore, this project can be viewed as a filter of and an admonition to the flatness of the image and the real, and an invitation to perform a multitude of dreams about the city and oneself, dreams are what we believe to be in a deep state of crisis in contemporary Croatian society.This project was carried out in two phases: the first, preliminary phase was conducted in October 2013, and the second one, the presentational exhibition currently featured in Gallery Galženica, but also in the public space of Velika Gorica throughout the months of October/November/December 2013. Prior to the project's presentation, four preparatory workshops, along with filming in the field, were held in cooperation with visual artists, project collaborators: Božena Končić Badurina, Tonka Maleković and Tanja Vujasinović, and schoolchildren from Nikola Hribar primary school and the high school Velika Gorica. The workshops' goal was to construct some new, fresh and unencumbered views about this city and its urban daily life.

The starting assumption was that, nowadays, the space where the younger generations “reside” is largely transferred from a physical to a virtual space. By using the “tools” that most primary schoolchildren have and use on a daily basis (iPhones, camera phones), our intent was to take them back to the physical space – to their everyday surroundings, to the public space of the city where they live and which they use – thus becoming more aware of it and if possible, taking a step further, imagining it within a newly discovered content. This is because we can never let the city “slip from our grasp.

A researcher and architect, Dubravka Sekulić, in her text The Public Interest in the Fog of Capitalii, thoroughly examines these processes. She says that, lately, the envisioning of space comes exclusively from the perspective of the investor, and not from the social imaginary. It neither comes from the urban developers, nor from the concerned groups of citizens, that is, from the multilayered involvement of the microsociety. The citizens’ role in the decision-making process comes down to the presented posthumous theorizing about almost finished projects, while the citizens are almost never invited to join in on the conceptualization of the future. If it happens they have a different view on the matter, it is implicitly dismissed. Sekulić concludes that the citizens' role in city planning and development is being increasingly disregarded, as well as their, perhaps less obvious, but certain contribution to the city's economy – the one which is performed via daily interactions with the public commons.

The project The City at a Second Glance has no pretenses of changing the imaginary of a city, but it makes an attempt to reevaluate the right to the city (in) which we live through various frontal encounters with it. The fact is that all the works emerged from the process of a spatially-specific intervention which originated from face-to-face, everyday dialogues between temporary residents and the inhabitants of the city. These are, in order: a dialogue between a neon craftsman Mr. Lacković and Tanja Vujasinović which introduces an undertone of diversity and variety of some distant metropolises into the urban fabric, Božena Končić Badurina's performance which restores one square’s function as a place of demos and agora, and Ana Zubak's happening which attempts to erect a bridge between the gallery/cultural institution and the texture of the city. Some of the authors use transit as such to tell a metastory about displacement and the (im)possibility of an encounter, directly emphasizing the utilized digital tool and medium, and all its limitations, together with its imaginative stimulus (Tonka Maleković, Martin Mrzljak). Some deny that this encounter has ever taken place (Igor Kuduz) and placed the city as one still frame in the exhibition space weaving the so-called exterior into the interior. The encounter, it seems, can never be entirely accomplished, nor it is entirely feasible, and it can only be achieved in its potential. It takes place in the micro contact point, where the two opinions, if only for a moment, touch, coincide, overlap and provoke one another. (Ivana Meštrov)

i Quoted from: Tihomir Milovac, Paradoks nevidljivosti, In: Insert, retrospektiva hrvatske video umjetnosti, Zagreb, 2008, p. 107.

ii http://kogradigrad.org/megdan-oko-kalemegdana.html#analiza (Acessed on 10/21/2013)