Critical Art in Contemporary Macedonia

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My book Critical Art in Contemporary Macedonia will be published this Friday, the 9th September, and will be launched at Menada in Skopje.

The book is based on several years of participatory observation and research into Macedonian visual culture and contemporary art practice. I have tried to be as open and democratic as possible in the writing of the book. Whilst the book features a long introductory essay, I have tried to give the Macedonian artists, writers, curators and cultural workers the space to express themsevles and their sometimes (contradictory) points of view on recent developments in Macedonia, in terms of society, politics and culture. In short, I have tried to give interested readers an overview of the “ecosystem” of contemporary art practice in this context.

The book’s major focus is on those artists who adopt a “critical” stance not just towards the Skopje 2014 programme, but who offer more broadly a questioning stance towards cultural instituions in Macedonia, the role of art in neo-liberal transition, and the responsibility of the artist in contemporary society. Vexed questions such as how to make a career as an independent artist, the relative isolation and low profile of Macedonian contemporary art and artists, art and activism, and the future of contemporary art in Macedonia, are all tackled carefully in this book.

The book is the first iteration of a series of research outputs related to my work on contemporary art in the ex-Yugoslav space. In the next eighteen months, I am curating two shows of contemporary Macedonian art. One, entitled¬†Imaginarium, will focus on video work from Macedonia and will run at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen from 4-11 November 2016.

The second, a group show of six contemporary Macedonian artists, will run at Summerhall in Edinburgh in autumn 2017, and more details will be provided in due course. In between these two shows, I will be presenting new research on Macedonian art and political upheaval as part of the session on Radical Art in Transition, that I am co-chairing with Dr. Jasmina Tumbas, at the Association of Art Historians Conference at Loughborough University next April.

Critical Art in Contemporary Macedonia is 350 pages long and is illustrated with over 100 full colour images. It is published by mala galerija in Skopje, with the support of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities in Scotland, and Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

Critical Art in Contemporary Macedonia will be available to purchase on-line shortly via amazon, in either e-book or hard copy format. Readers wishing a review copy or who wish to make enquiries can do so at jonblackwood@hotmail.com.

You can read an excerpt from the book here, or hear my lecture on the subject delivered in Ednburgh last October, here . Screenshots of selected pages feature below.

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