*1973 / 1974 in Skopje, Macedonia, live in Skopje.
Yane Calovski and Hristina Ivanoska are working individually but also for some projects together as an artist couple. Especially their important presentation 'We are all in this alone' in the Macedonian Pavilion at the 56 Venice Biennale in 2015 was a collaborative project, which also included individual works. Already in 2004 both artists founded in Skopje the 'Press to Exit Project Space': www.presstoexit.org.mk. Its program reflects and supports the development of contemporary art in Northern Macedonia and intends to put the discourse about it on the international stage.
Between 2000 and 2003, Yane Calovski and Hristina Ivanoska took various walking tours through Macedonia. These tours followed a line drawn in a spiral shape across the map, 'Nature and Social Studies, Spiral Trip' and resulted in few drawings. In 2004 on the coast of Rincón in Puerto Rico, the artists created 'Natural and Social Studies, Spiral Swim Line'. In form and size, it was influenced by 'Spiral Jetty' one of the key works of American Land Art created by Robert Smithson in 1970 on the shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
The process to realize the 'Spiral Swim Line' is documented on a large panel with photographs, drawings similar to a comic stric and notes about technical calculations. Finally the work was executed with a buoy rope, placed in spiral form in the Ocean like a swiming line. A short video, filming the setting from a helicopter, is screend onto the panel.
Yane Calovski and Hristina Ivanoska were born in Skopje in 1973 and 1974 respectively. This joint work consists of 12 individually styled posters. Looking at the posters, we see unfamiliar names such as Oskar Hansen, Dušan Percinkov, Ana Mendieta, Paul Thek and Mladen Stilinovic. Memories, the creation of historical facts and fictions, and the narratives that grow from them play a central role in the oeuvre of Yane Calovski and Hristina Ivanoska. In this opus, they create an imaginary 'what-if' scenario of art projects in a museum that was designed by Polish architect Oscar Hansen but never built. A logo on each of the posters makes reference to this. The imaginary exhibitions recount stories from recent decades of the history of art and range from 1963 through to 2008.
The poster series takes a fictitious look at the programs of the exhibitions that might have taken place in the museum. This work by Yane Calovski and Hristina Ivanoska raise issues about history and documentation. The artists have designed the exhibition program in the form of a musée imaginaire; the poster series has an archiving function, suggesting that the fictitious exhibitions really took place.
The first poster in the series is dedicated to Ad Reinhardt and dated 1963, the same year that a devastating earthquake hit Skopje, destroying almost the entire old town. With its dark-gray writing on a black background, the poster alludes to important works of this American artist (1913–1967): his monochrome 'black paintings'. At first glance, these artworks appear to be entirely in black, but on closer inspection reveal different layers, surfaces and chromatic nuances. The text, also from 1963, is a brief citation from the artist’s writings. It contains a radical rejection of the museum as a place of entertainment or intermediation. Instead, according to Reinhardt, a museum of fine arts should be seen as both a treasure trove and a grave, a place of reflection and silent admiration. The concept for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, which the next three posters document, clearly contradicts this idea. Its intention is to provoke a dynamic notion of art: works that have no firm shape, but which – just like the building itself – metamorphose and refashion themselves before the observer’s eyes.
The next three posters from the series belong together. They document the proposal for construction of a museum of modern art in Skopje submitted in 1966 by Oskar Hansen, an architect born in Finland but living in Poland.
After the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1963, the United Nations Development Fund chose Japanese architect Kenzo Tange from among numerous international entrants in a design competition and commissioned him with rebuilding the city. A museum of modern art formed part of this urban planning project. The design submitted by Oskar Hansen, who taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw from 1950 to 1983 and exerted a strong influence on many younger Polish artists, was never realized. The concept behind it prescribed no set sequence of rooms, but envisaged a versatile, adaptable architectural structure made up of individual hexagonal elements. Depending on the needs of the artists, the building was capable of being electronically modified to suit different exhibition projects.
The remaining posters from the series deal with fictitious exhibitions or lectures that could have taken place in the non-existent museum of modern art in Skopje, for example the 'Remains of a Summer Day' exhibition in 1968 featuring paintings by Dušan Percinkov. A brief text says that it is the last exhibition of works by this artist, who in fact did decide to stop painting altogether in the mid-1970s. The poster was designed with foreknowledge of what would happen in the future. Historiography, the complex narrative of the past, feeds on the knowledge of what happened in the period after the events being discussed. It is always a journey through time: from the present into the past, told with the experience of the present. After a long initial creative period devoted to painting (1963–1975), Percinkov (born in Skopje in 1939) did actually give up painting to focus mainly on graphic art.
Historiography finds its sources and historical facts in the documents of the time, and it is difficult to decide if the latter have been tampered with or forged, whether accidentally or deliberately. The historical narrative, and what it tells us, is always political in nature. The next poster from the series is dated 1973, and the exhibition in question focuses on American artist Ana Mendieta (1948–1985). Mendieta was born in Cuba and, after the Cuban revolution and the failure of the US invasion in the Bay of Pigs, was one of several thousand children whose parents sent them to the United States as 'orphans'. Ana Mendieta’s works are characterized by a strong spiritual connection with the earth. Fundamental experiences such as death, life, suffering and violence – particularly violence against women – play a key role. The poster shows photos from Mendieta's series of slides entitled 'People Looking at Blood, Moffitt' from 1973. Ana Mendieta poured out a big pool of blood in front of her studio. The photographs document the reactions of passers-by encountering this potential crime scene.
The next two posters concentrate on a legendary US artist, Paul Thek (1933–1988), whose work was not appreciated until after his death and who remains a role model for many artists. The imaginary museum of modern art in Skopje devoted an exhibition to him back in 1974. The poster quotes what the artist said about Bambi, whom he regarded as better and more famous than the Infant Jesus. Bambi is idolized and dearly loved by millions, makes people cry and inspires their admiration. Paul Thek was a friend of Susan Sontag, who dedicated her 1989 book 'Aids and Its Metaphors' to him. He died of the illness in 1988. The text in the next poster, 'Susan Lecturing on Nietzsche', alludes to that. It is from one of the artist's late works, a small painting done in 1987, where it was scrawled across the surface in the spidery handwriting of a child. In the manner of an academic thesis, the 'footnote' located in the upper part of the poster refers to this connection. The poster announces a lecture by Sontag in 1987.
Tiny colorful hexagonal elements cover the entire poster from end to end, forming the word 'color' at its center. Taking a closer look, we discern writing at the top of the poster: 'Painting is Black, Sculpture is White, Architecture is'. This brings us back to the first poster in the series, and the 'black paintings' of Ad Reinhardt. The sentence 'Painting is black' stems from him. Though much admired by his fellow artists, he never really experienced great success, did not fit any trend and never became a star; but he remained uncompromising in the pursuit of his ideas. The quote is from Reinhardt's key collection of texts from 1975 entitled 'Art as Art', i.e. art simply as art, that indefinable something that cannot be reduced to aesthetics, beauty or ugliness, has no social task or function, and neither entertains nor bores. This type of art is 'black' because it has nothing in common with colourful reality. 'Sculpture is white' because it rejects all the colours of conventional objects. Architecture is variegated and colourful because its purpose is to fulfill our needs in a direct way. It shapes and conceptualizes the spaces we live in, our cities, homes and nature, and of course makes use of all the colours of reality.
The phrase 'Now is not the Moment' is shown on this poster, with its mirror-inverted image of Mladen Stilinović's 'Artist at work'. The photo depicts the artist himself, who was born in Belgrade in 1947, and shows him lying in bed with his head turned away from the viewer and sunk into a pillow. The artist wants to be left in peace – to reflect, sleep, wait to see what happens, be lazy. 'The Praise of Laziness' is the title of one of his texts, which was first published in Moscow Art Magazine in 1998. He is one of those artists who, beginning in the 1960s, made a big contribution toward the new, conceptual practice of art. The communist party had officially removed socialist realism from its doctrine and was promoting abstract and constructive trends in art. Even in this period, Stilinović was interested in questions of a more fundamental nature: What role, if any, does the artist have to play in society? How can the artist have a corrective and reflective influence? How can the artist ensure that reality is not reduced to simply what is practically viable, financially lucrative and politically opportune? After the fall of the Iron Curtain, and confronted with the West’s flourishing art market, the artist formulates his initial response and critique in his text 'The Praise of Laziness'. Artists in the West are not lazy; they just keep on producing. In his view, however, 'doing nothing', 'thinking nothing' and 'wanting nothing' are central tenets of art. Only these states allow works to arise that are not intended for the market, not needed to meet demand or for an upcoming exhibition, but which are created for no reason at all, in the absence of necessity, out of pure creativity and freedom.
The penultimate poster in the series adds another nuance to our story of the museum in Skopje that was never built. It shows the remnants of an erased sketch, a drawing by Oskar Hansen of the site of the planned museum. Polish artist Agnieszka Kurant, born in Łódź, Poland, in 1978, rubbed out the drawing, transforming it into a sort of water fountain. She is alluding to a project by Yves Klein and Claude Parent from the year 1958. The two had designed what they referred to as 'air architecture' for the Fountain of Warsaw at the Trocadéro in Paris – a project that, like the museum in Skopje, never became a reality.
The final poster in the series deals with an exhibition showing works by Andrzej Szewczyk (1950–2001) and entitled 'Paintings from Chłopy'. Chłopy is a seaside resort on Poland's Baltic coast that was originally just a small fishing village. Some the town's original half-timbered houses belong to the country’s cultural heritage. What will the pictures in the exhibition look like, we wonder. Will they depict the inhabitants' picturesque cottages lining an idyllic harbour? The ocean beyond a line of sand dunes; blue sky and a few scattered clouds; or the drama of an approaching storm?
The text on the poster contains a number of clues as to what the pictures will look like.
They depict the surface structure of parts of the historic houses' walls and match the originals both in their size and the materials used to create them. The paintings are exact copies or imitations of these surfaces, which came about when craftspeople used white clay, adhesives and other materials to plaster and fill the sections between the pieces of timber. They are neither abstract, nor do they represent anything. As pictures, they are identical with the image of a certain fragment of the actual building.
The nondescript background and the colour of the poster are from one of the wall fragments or from an identical picture of it.