As part of Pallas Projects' ongoing international exchanges with artists and curators in Croatia we are happy to present in our gallery: Art in the Community: Redefining Heritage of the Association of Artists Zemlja*. This is one section of a multi-part project which took place on two mountains in Croatia in 2020.
* Due to COVID-19 Level 3 restricitons we are unable to open this work to the public but we will be hosting two discussions online that detail the project through conversations with the participants and project curators.
Political Art and Activism: Heritage of Comunity Art (Group Zemlja 1929 - 1935) and Contemporary Practices - Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Art History at Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb Josip Zanki, and Art Historian Maja Flajsig.
Workshops on Mountain Velebit: Maja Rožman, Mark Cullen and Students of Academy of Fine Arts
Art in the Community: Redefining Heritage of the Association of Artists Zemlja is a result of a project developed under the guidance of the authors of the project, Maja Flajsig and Josip Zanki with the aim of examining one of the most important points in Central European and West Balkan political art history, which is the legacy of the Association of Artists Zemlja, naïve art and of Krsto Hegedušić in the contemporary context.
Art in the Community: Redefining Heritage of the Association of Artists Zemlja project was based on exchanging experiences, a reciprocal collaboration of artists and work within the local community and students' research work. It was based on the mountains of Velebit, which were selected because of the idea of Zemlja (eng. Earth), an earthly paradise that naïve painters connected with, repeatedly sought and which today's artists and researchers find in the untouched nature.
Students were guided through two art workshops on Velebit by their mentors, Mark Cullen (Pallas Projects) and Maja Rožman, with whom they developed artworks exhibited in this show, as well as historical documentation that motivated them. They examined the legacy of the Association of Artists Zemlja and of Krsto Hegedušić in the contemporary context, not only to bring it closer to the international framework, but with firm intention of derailing marginal cultures and phenomena from a postcolonial discourse, in which they are viewed only as a part of ethnographic research and not as equal to other art practices.
Professor, at Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Maja Rožman led a woodcut printing workshop with students Jelena Bogdanić, Klara Burić, Dorian Pacak and Luka Tomić who took their reinterpretation of the manifesto of the Association of Artists Zemlja as a starting point of artistic research. Each of the authors covered the topic with their own poetics and symbolic understanding of motifs from natural spaces of Velebit mountain. They examined very personal ideas, as well as universal ones, tackled tendencies in contemporary art and society and put them in the context of natural surroundings of Velebit. Maja Rožman drew inspiration from this experience and developed an animated movie about elusiveness of the horizon.
Mark Cullen led another workshop on Velebit in cooperation with professors at Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb Josip Zanki, and Maja Flajsig. Along with students that participated in the workshop, Marta Dijak, Ante Dujmović and Luka Tomić, they developed land art research based on the idea of light, and natural materials in different locations of Velebit on the eve and on the day of the equinox on September 22, 2020. During their stays in the hidden corners of untouched nature, the workshop participants created works of art through a meditative approach, guided by the idea of the all-pervading forces of nature flowing through bodies and the environment. Using elements of nature found in situ such as water, branches, stones and leaves, they developed very subtle and minimalistic interventions in the rhythm and in the harmony of the natural surroundings. Initially conceived of as a reciprocal exchange and potential collaboration, this workshop was led remotely via video conference prior to the trip to Velebit as Mark Cullen could not travel due to Covid 19 restrictions. As a point of connection with the interventions in Velebit, Cullen temporarily installed Towards Super-Connection, a mutable modular sculpture at Loughcrew, Co Meath, which is a megalithic site with a passage tomb that aligns with the equinoxes.
Maja Flajsig was born in Zagreb on December 28, 1994. She holds a master's degree in art history and ethnology and cultural anthropology with the topic "Creating a place in a mountain area: Artistic interventions in the Učka Nature Park". She is an independent curator and art critic. Since 2015. she has been presenting her research at professional and scientific conferences in the field of art history, cultural anthropology and philosophy in Zagreb, Split, Belgrade and Mexico City. She was awarded for her professional research. She has been writing art criticism and curating since 2016. So far, she has curated numerous exhibitions in Zagreb, Sesvete, Krapina, Zadar, Karlovac, Brtonigla, Udine and Mexico City. She wrote for the magazine of the Institute of Ethnology and Folkloristics "Narodna umjetnost", web portals Kulturpunkt, Contemporary Croatian Photography and Vizkultura, and the show "Triptih" of the Third Program on Croatian Radio. She is a member of the association 4 grada Dragodid, which deals with the preservation of dry stone wall heritage.
Josip Zanki was born in Zadar, on 14th March 1969. He grew up in the village of Privlaka, North West of Zadar. He graduated from the Graphic Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1994 (class of Professor Miroslav Šutej) with a thesis entitled “Mysticism in the Artistic Practice of J. Beuys” and an experimental series of etchings New Machines, a remake of the research conducted by the Croatian renaissance scientist Faust Vrančić. In 2016 he completed his Postgraduate Doctoral Studies in Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. He received his PhD with a thesis entitled “Anthropological Conceptualisation of the Space in Thangka Painting and Contemporary Art Practices“ (supervisors Suzana Marjanić, and Leonida Kovač) on 11th February 2016. Since 1986 he has been working on the field of graphic media, film, video, installations, performances, and cultural anthropology. He has received numerous prizes for his artistic work. He has realized numerous exhibitions and projects in Croatia and abroad. He taught at the University of Zadar 2009 to 2017 and at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas 2016 and 2017. Since 2017 he has been teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. Since 2018 he has been vice president of the Croatian Association of Fine Artists, oldest and largest institution of its kind in Croatia and the entire region, established in 1868. He has been a member of the European Cultural Parliament since 2011. He lives and works in Zagreb.