Alongside the topic of emigration, in this processual work I now also address the topic of city authorities and their actions following the earthquake in Zagreb on 22 March 2020. The people whose homes were severely destroyed have been left with practically no assistance, financial or advisory, on part of the City and its authorities. There are no instructions on further action, and they are left to fend for themselves.
I have designed a six-question survey, which I shared with people through social networks. I was interested in the strategies and ways of coping with the fact that your home is severely damaged, as well as the people’s emotional state and their vision of the city’s future renovation. Some of the questions are as follows: “Can you describe the emotions you felt after the earthquake had damaged your home?” “Can you briefly describe your vision of the city’s future; Do you think that the buildings will be renovated with reinforcement and protection from future earthquake damage, will most of them remain uninhabitable crevices in time, or something else?”
From the collected material, I created an installation and a performance. I engraved the text I had received from people onto some plates and cups that had fallen from the kitchen cabinets after the earthquake. I quote some of the citizens who have opted for anonymity in the survey: “Cracked walls, and fear that a stronger earthquake may destroy them completely. The ceiling is in the worst condition, and I avoid looking at it.” “Politicians! Either renovate the city, or leave!” “Most of them will be patched up; some cultural facilities will be renovated for years to come, and the demolished ones will be sold as parcels, and the criminals will profit once again.” “The renovation of Zagreb will be delayed and mystified, as are most things in Croatia. The politicians and construction companies will deal with this opportunistically, as is the case with everything we have seen so far.”
I collected debris from my building in Novi Zagreb, and several smaller tiles that had fallen from downtown façades. This material has become an artefact that makes up the installation, in the centre of which is the video of the performance. In a performative act, I verbalise the selected parts of the text, while my body is in plank position. Little by little, I start trembling; the strain of the exercise and the gravity of the spoken words can be felt in my voice.
For this workshop inspiration were illustrations from Voynich Manuscript. Since its discovery in 1912, the 15th century Voynich Manuscript has been a mystery and a cult phenomenon. Full of handwriting in an unknown language or code, the book is heavily illustrated with pictures of unusual plants. The alphabet of this language contains a combination of unfamiliar and familiar symbols, some words and abbreviations in Latin and no punctuation marks. The letters are in lower case; there aren’t any double consonants, but there are many double, triple, quadruple and even quintuple strings of vowels.
The idea was to give each participant a freedom to ”translate” the Manuscript in his own words. To draw and write the recipes, referring to contemporary ecological and social problems, in our surrounding.
The names of asylum seeker children I hold conceptually-expressive workshops at the Elementary school in Travno are: Yadeen Abbas Mundher Al-Gburi, Taha Ahmadi, Amirali Ansari, Manea Atheer Manea Al-Sadoon, Hassan Jabbar Abbas Abbas, Bashar Maashi, Maryam Atheer Al-Sadoon, Shahad Maashi, Mehdi Deilami, Roshat Zaman Ahmad, Mikaeil Badan Firouz. Spontaneously, through drawing, graphics, installation, herbs printing, I’m trying to make them speak and sketch a memory of old home. It is amazing to see how quickly and naturally they learn and master a new language, adapting quickly to the new environment. I gave them a camera, and with my guidance, they photographed and recorded their own creative processes.
Workshops were performed in elementary school Gustav Krklec, 2019.
The installation and performance refer to a person’s ability to raise their environmental consciousness so as to think differently and accept responsibility for their actions. The work consists of soil heaped at the point of passage, and papers with ecological terms such as “environmental justice,” “simplicity of life,” “local environmental care,” “clean technology,” “waste minimisation,” etc. There is a microphone in close proximity of the soil, which amplifies the internal vibrations and the external sounds-reactions of viewers. The sounds I am making are directed towards the soil; their intensity varies from very quiet ones, to loud sounds of pain and grief. I am inviting the viewers to join me – two children and an adult come from the audience and make sounds with me. At the end, I give each of them one of the ecological terms with written date and location, as a material performative artefact.
When I start a workshop, I used to say to my students that I’m not here to teach them art, but to give them a tool that will allow them to tell their desires, their dreams, their inner battles. Whether it’s through photography, painting, installation, film or one of the many other mediums to express one’s creativity; art provides a platform to raise awareness and encourages refugees to find their own potential. Being able to express ourselves without judgement is one of the most therapeutic aspects of making art.
In this performance, I describe on a microphone what my imaginary home and atelier would look like and how I could live from my work: selling artefacts and photographs of the performances, and practicing contemporary art methods with primary school children, so that one day they could understand and purchase contemporary art. I seek to emphasise how very important it is to have a working space separate from the sleeping area, which many young artists today do not have. At one point, I start addressing the audience, asking them to draw the floor plan of their imaginary home or atelier. According to their sketches, I “sculpt” their homes from a mixture placed on the table (coconut, cocoa, ground nut, cranberries, dates, corn rose, apple juice), and serve them on paper plates to be consumed.
The performance is dedicated to all young people who work abroad and cannot do their art as much as they want (need) to. Location: Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb
“Curious head is squinting flats with grey bricks. The associations are cluttering through the needle with the drops of adrenaline, blurring the little mirrors in my chest. Stepping over the colour of distrust and reservation. Mind cuddling. Breathing out the plan.”
In this piece, I study the term “habitation” as a passive everyday action, and focus on homes as fictional objects that are impossible to be afforded by young people today. I interviewed friends who live in rented homes or with their parents, asking them to tell me a story about their living space. At one point, we bring to mind the socialist working class, i.e. our parents and grandparents, who were given their homes by their respective companies because they were valuable as workers.
I focus on comparing the past and the present as two opposite poles. Today, a company providing a home for its employee is considered pure fantasy.
With no money to afford our own home, possibilities open up for a taste of life in other countries. However, I cannot help but wonder whether we really want to do it, or whether we are merely forced into it? If we have other options – which are they?
While the interviews are emitted through speakers and a megaphone, I make an edible mixture of dried fruit, shaped in the form of my parents’ flat.
Facing a wall – this time not the one at home, but rather the impossibility of achievement – I share my frustration and helplessness with the audience by breaking the edible supporting walls of an unfulfilled dream and offering them to the public, hoping that one day it becomes
By performing, I materialize my stiffness in the environment and society that is mostly indifferent to contemporary creative expressions. Shame comes from trying to introduce myself to someone and tell him what I’m doing. Shame is also due to the fact that I find it difficult to find a job in my profession. In this work I create artifacts of shame and pain by imprinting in my own blood all that makes my identity – things on me and in my bag such as identity card, student index, employment record book, health card, condoms, arts association membership card, as many coins as I have in the wallet, the food I carry in the bag, etc. Some prints will be clear, but most of them will become bloody abstract stains. During the printing I will try to present myself to the audience and describe the themes and the focus of my artistic creation.
The concept of this work is the question of presenting today’s educational system through the eyes of children. I wonder as to how and where the pupils experience and practice in everyday life the following educational achievements: appropriateness, regularity, vigorous proof, restriction, appointment keeping, empowerment?
In the performance, I instruct the audience to read the Pupils’ Rights from the Act on Education in Primary Schools of the Republic of Croatia.
I repeat the statements after audience members, all the while tightening a bushy branch around my neck. When the audience are done reading the seven rights of pupils, I tell them to invent a new right based on their experience at school, be it good or bad. Afterwards, as materialised memory of that moment, I give out corn seeds to the audience, to be planted somewhere in the yard of the Cultural Centre of Peščenica (Zagreb).
* the right to be informed of all matters pertaining to them.
* the right to counselling and assistance in solving the problem in accordance with their best interests.
* the right to have their opinion respected.
* the right to assist other pupils at school.
* the right to make a complaint that can be referred to teachers, the Director, and the School Board.
* the right to participate in the work of the School Council of Pupils.
* the right to suggest improvements in the educational process and work.