Critical Art in Contemporary Macedonia

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Plotsad Makedonija, September 2011

I first went to Macedonia in 2008, and it is a land and a people that I quickly grew to love. In my work on the art of the former Yugoslavia, I found a huge amount of interesting material, on monumental Yugoslav modernists such as Borko Lazeski, and the dynamic architectural and sculptural duo, Jordan Grabulovski and Iskra Grabulovska, whose most remarkable building, the Makedonium in Krushevo, is a remarkable contemporary document, first opened in the early 1970s.

Growing out of a show at duplex 100m2 in Sarajevo, in February 2014, and a trip by Gray’s students to Skopje in February 2015, I have for the past year been working on a project, interviewing contemporary artists active in Macedonia and working on a book based on these findings and my own seven years of research on Macedonian art.

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Although Skopje has been in the art-news a lot, for the hugely controversial Skopje 2014 scheme which has “transformed” the city, critical independent artists, and the structures of independent art practice, have remained relatively under-reported in the English language. It’s a story of persistence, and the maintenance of an uncompromising criticality and dark humour, in really difficult circumstances.

The book will feature interviews with a broad cross-section of contemporary artists, curators, writers and thinkers on Macedonian art. It will be published by malagalerija in Skopje and further details of the launch, planned for mid-April in Skopje, will follow soon.

In the meantime, you can read more detail on the project, supported by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities in Scotland, as well as Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University, here.

Want to know more? Have a look at the powerpoint and listen to the lecture on contemporary Macedonian art, delivered at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, last October.