Campaign in Subotica: Exhibition “Common Denominator” and “Those Who Leave” program
Our fruitful cooperation with the Contemporary Gallery in Subotica has continued this year as well. Besides the exhibition “Common Denominator”, we also collaborated on programs that took place during July. The campaign in Subotica began on June 29, with the arrival of high school students from Vranje and Sjenica. A tour of the city was organized for them: sightseeing interesting architectural buildings that testify to the diversity of cultures and speak about the life of various communities through the history of Subotica. This tour was led by Mirko Grlica, a historian and curator of the Town Museum in Subotica. His story about the history and demography of Subotica highlighted the ways in which migration and encounters of different cultures had contributed to the development of this town.
The next day, Ružica Marjanović, literature teacher from Užice High School and the organiser of the “Halfway” literary festival, held a workshop called “Reading the City” for high school students, where they analysed the literary texts by Danilo Kiš, Vislava Šimborska and Darko Rundek. By analysing the symbols and “traces” scattered through the texts, their different connotation layers were decoded. The philosophical and ideological settings embedded in the literary texts were particularly highlighted. In the afternoon, the students participated in the workshop “Me as a Curator”, with the exhibition’s team of authors, in order to be prepared to present the exhibits at the opening.
The exhibition was officially opened on June 30, at the Contemporary Gallery. In front of the Contemporary Gallery, the curator Jasmina Jovančić Vidaković welcomed the audience. She described the cooperation between the Gallery and Group 484, emphasising the common goals and the position that museums and galleries should be places of social criticism and social change. She also presented the program “Those Who Leave”, which will take place during the course of the exhibition. The work of the Group 484 education program, primarily with the refugees, but also the effect on educational processes through programs for teachers, high school and university students, was presented by Tamara Cvetković, program assistant of Group 484. The artists Luka Knežević Strika and Snežana Skoko talked about the works in the centres and the creation of the exhibition, and high school students presented the exhibits to the audience.
“Common Denominator” is the result of months-long work of Luka Knežević Strika, Snežana Skoko and Ivana Bogićević Leko in centres for accommodation of asylum seekers in Serbia. The exhibition is a combination of documentary notes, works created through the interaction of the artistic team and workshop participants, and the contents and discussion topics artistically being shaped with beneficiaries of the centres. The exhibition thematises the issues of identity, culture and customs, the position of women in different societies, ambitions, hopes and anxieties, as well as the borders – both the state and symbolic ones.
The contents of the exhibition are: textile books Book of Names and Words that Describe Me – different embroidery techniques made by migrant women, inspired by the discussions about identity and compiled into a collection; embroidered tablecloth for Nowruz sofra and hands as a symbol of diligent work and friendship; Make up Corner that collects stories of self-esteem, human dignity and the fight for rights, especially women’s rights; Memory of the Future – photo portraits in front of the city images; I see a long way ahead of you – best wishes for the future as fate seen in cup of coffee readings (print on canvas); Newlyweds –step forward, all others at ease! – portraits on wedding photographs; publication My Last Night at the Sharia Camp – a narrative and photo story by photographer Zirak, whom we met in Bogovađa. Each of these works tells the story of our topics during Sofra Art, about language, about wondering and understanding, discovering, freeing from own prejudices, and the stories are presented in the catalogue Common Denominator. Besides the mentioned authors, the art collective “Škart” contributed to the design of the exhibition.
During July, the Contemporary Gallery hosted lectures, screenings of films and research presentations, dealing with the issue of migration from the historical, sociological, anthropological and cultural point of view, within the program “Those Who Leave”.
Mirko Grlica, historian and adviser to the Town Museum in Subotica, gave a lecture entitled “A Migrant Story: Ilona Fülöp”, a writer from Subotica who had emigrated for the United States before the First World War. The next was the screening of the documentary film “In the Vortex”, directed by Zoltan Šifliš. The lecture “Socially Responsible Museums – accompanying programs of the exhibition Yugoslavia, my Yugoslavia: gastarbeiter stories” was held by Sara Sopić, an art historian, a curator of the Museum of Yugoslav History; the last event was a conversation with Eva Mikuška, lecturer at the University of Chichester, England, with the topic “Stay or Leave: migration of the population of Vojvodina”. The discussions and programs were led by the curator of the Contemporary Gallery, Jasmina Jovančić Vidaković.
Project: INVOLVED – INclusiVe COmmunities Lead to the Vibrant SociEty without Discrimination
Goal: Project goal is raising awareness of asylum seekers and migrants, general and professional public on social, economic and cultural rights of asylum seekers and migrants
Implementers: Group 484 (Educational Program “We and the Others”)
Support: The Delegation of European Union in RS – European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), Serbian Government – The Office for Cooperation with Civil Society
Photos: Jelena Mijić