The first day of the “New Geographies” workshop began with an introduction by the participants followed by a presentation of my work. We then jumped right into an exploration of Skopje via the geo-tagged videos that are being published in the city. The method is very simple. We select certain areas of the city and see what is there, from very urban areas to neighborhoods that are more on the outskirts. We then have conversations around the videos as we watch them together. We will follow this initial research with more deeper analysis, but here are a few observations and notes on what we have discovered so far. The groupings for the first day’s research are loosely based around local politics, everyday ephemera, and local personalities and friends.
Comments: This is the work of an artist that had a performance in a couple of places in the city. He is discussing the position of the artist in society and afterwards he would sing songs. They are dressed as construction workers to comment on this site that is currently under reconstruction, as part of the Skopje 2014 reconstruction project, a proposal which is receiving a lot of criticism. In defense to the project, the city says that it is giving a lot of positions / opportunities to artists and artists. However the proposals have hidden agendas. For example in the calls for submission they have for proposals of Baroque art.
Comments: This is a video simulacrum of what the city is supposed to be and with that our identity. These kinds of videos involving simulations of places are actually quite popular in smaller urban places in Canada. (examples will be brought tomorrow). In the videos the proposed structure is shown how it appears in space, how it reacts and relates to different weather changes, and how the people look at feel around it. The problem with this video is that it was presented to us a a final project and not as an opening for critical debate.
Comment: This is a honey fair and an example of the newly discovered social festivities around food become part of a so-called cultural policy. This is referring to the period that we are in of trying to reestablish ourselves as ‘someone’. The dominant policy is “we are together” to show off our Macedonian-ness. The tourist board even developed an identity brand for the country, the slogan “Macedonia: Small Country Big Food!”
Critique: These are presented as cultural projects and they are funded by the Ministry of Culture as such. What is culture and art in this framework? It functions towards a specific identity and where the use of public square regresses to a primitive function.
Comment: This is a national holiday, 23rd of October, which is the anniversary day of the Macedonian Revolutionary Struggle. This is where political revolutionaries were fighting towards creating an autonomous country and state. The 23rd of October was never a public holiday but was instated by the current political party in power- Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (IMRO) that derives its name from the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), the historical revolutionary national liberation movement in the Ottoman territories in Europe. Therefore they are using historical significance in the name and see themselves as a continuation of this ideology.
Comment: This is when the first revolution in Macedonia happened. It’s the biggest historical moment in the history of Macedonia. Another example of presenting our future in our past. This author is making a critical comment by presenting ironically the dominant orthodox male representation of Macedonian identity.
Comment: She is responding critically to this public monument. But her response is: “Somebody riding this horse in the public square, impossible! I would never ride this horse in the public square!”
This a honest reference to citizens that don’t know how to deal with the public monuments in city.
Comment: These are representativies of a couple of NGOS that are very nationalistic. They are doing a press conference in reaction to a parade that took place in Athens in which the Greek army was marching and shouting hate slogans against Macedonians and Albanians. They are reacting to Greek nationalist and fascism but actually have set up a hate group that supports it. They are very active in social media but not in physical space, on the street yet.
Comment: This is another communication that is going on in YouTube, between Greek and Macedonian fanatics. They each give a personal interpretation with what is going on, but completely out of control. It becomes like a new genre.
Comment: This is another example of the genre.