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14 Jan 13

Belgrade Asylum for Artistic Freedom

Young art couple from Belgrade decided to draw attention to problems in art world and harmful state cultural policy by locking themselves in one of the prominent galleries on the main Knez Mihajlova Street.

Nemanja Cabric
BIRN Belgrade
Visual artist Marina Markovic | Photo by Jelena Cosic, BIRN

From January 8 to 17 painter Marina Markovic and sculptor Boris Sribar will live inside their own project in the Cultural Centre of Belgrade, KCB, fighting to draw public attention to the poor state on the art scene and society in general.

Their performance called „Azil“ (Assylum) is a part of the 2013 Critics Choose Exhibition in KCB - idea that was conceived by art critic Nikola Dedic.

Artists are satisfied with the positive reactions they get from passers-by, some of which bring them tea and snacks. Both agree that the space of KCB is a great studio, in which they can do all stuff that they would anyway do elsewhere, only this place provides them with perfect working conditions.

„It didn't feel right to have only colleagues, art critics friends and relatives coming to openings of my exhibitions and to never have that circle expanded some more“, says Marina Markovic.

In last couple of days she often yells through the glass thus talking with people that drop by.

„I am so glad when someone comes out of curiosity or without any reason, instead of having only experts and people from the Academy“, she ads joyfully.

However, visitors are allowed only in front of the door of the gallery, and it will stay that way until January 17 that will see opening of works made by Marina and Boris during their time in asylum.

Sculptor Boris Sribar | Photo by Jelena Cosic, BIRN  

„If visitors would be allowed in our asylum, then we couldn’t produce our works.In that case we would be only communicating with them“, says Boris Sribar.

Marina ads that the project is great because two of them broaden their audience on the other side of the glass, and at the same time produce artworks.

„We spend most of our time working. We will finish several videos and visual installations by 17th“, Boris promised.

However, art couple denies that their performance has anything to do with the concept of reality shows. Although they are exposed every day to looks of thousands of people that walk through Belgrade’s main street, they are not broadcasting it in any way.

They state that they believe in critical potential of art, but not trough joining art and life, as avant-garde artists believed – but by creating a difference between art and life, and in a process of documenting it.

„This is a reality show as much as that lady in the store across the street is. Although we express our privacy we do it to raise awareness to the existential component of an asylum“, Boris says resolutely.

Marina ads that their aim is to highlight problems artist are facing with, and their visibility in the society.  

„We deal here with questions that are important for us and that refer to whole society and the way in which state runs cultural policy“, says Boris.

He notes that the only policy that the country has been fostering these years is how to cut cultural budget even more in the next year.

Thus, the gesture of Marina Markovic and Boris Sribar consciously refers to the practices such as the Occupy Wall Street movement or increasingly important student protests.

More photos of this event are available on Culture Watch facebook page.

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