Question 1. (Manca Bajec and Isobel Wohl) Ralph Rugoff writes that this year’s exhibition, entitled May You Live in Interesting Times,‘will no doubt include artworks that reflect upon precarious aspects of existence today, including different threats to key traditions, institutions and relationships of the “post-war order.”’ How do you feel that the work that you are presenting as part of your curated project responds to this set of concerns? (Or, for curators, how do the curatorial choices you have made respond to this set of concerns?)
Danica Dakić: In my project for the pavilion of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I reflect on two post-war conditions: the period after WWII, with the modern socialist utopias embedded in the Yugoslavia project, and the aftermath of the Bosnian war, where the current situation creates a new layer of dealing with ‘interesting’ times. I focus on the city of Zenica, once the symbol of socialist progress, which now faces extreme air pollution and high rates of unemployment. One of the key venues explored in my project, the Bosnian National Theatre in Zenica, with its modernist architecture, is very interesting in this regard; even though the building structure is in decay, the theatre itself is still very important for the cultural life of the city, especially attracting young audiences.
Question 2. (MB and IW) What does it mean for you as an artist, a curator, or a curatorial team to represent your country? How does the structure of the Venice Biennial, with its individual national pavilions, influence your choices as a participant? What does it mean, in terms of the current state of European and world politics, for us to emphasise national representation in the arts sector?
Dakić: I also ask myself this question. The project is set in the Bosnian city of Zenica working with local citizens; the idea for it actually predated my commission for the pavilion. I wanted to realise it in this context because it addresses local concerns but also extends to wider issues such as the potentials embedded in the idea of modernity, i.e. represented in Walter Gropius Total Theatre, which was one of the starting points. Personally, I believe that the notion of a national pavilion in a world, especially in an art context, where our biographies are increasingly affected by mobility and migration, where we live in multiple languages and cultures, is simply a paradox.
Question 3. (MB and IW) How do the choices you’ve made in your national pavilion relate to recent developments in your artistic or curatorial practice? What do you hope that your creative decisions in this project will contribute to your work going forward?
Dakić: Over the years my practice has evolved in collaboration with many participants all over the world. The Venice exhibition is a further piece in this puzzle. While I work in different media, for this show I also developed for the first time a graphic portfolio. In this way, my method seeks to connect different elements and is developing constantly. I hope to continue this work in process in the future.
Manca Bajec is an artist and researcher living and working in London, UK and Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Isobel Wohl is a visual artist and writer. She lives and works in London, UK and Brooklyn, NY.
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