IN BETWEEN STATES
New Art from North Macedonia
Friday 7th June – Saturday 6th July. Opening night Thursday 6th June at 6pm.
In Between States, hosted at Peacock Visual Arts’ The Worm space, is the first leg of an exchange exhibition between Aberdeen and the capital of North Macedonia, Skopje. The Aberdeen exhibition is integrated as a part of the Look Again: Visual Art and Design festival of 2019.
The focus of the exhibition is “in between-ness”, or the sense of uncertainty that accompanies a period of permanent change and deferred finality. “Liminality”, the state of being on the threshold of something new and unknown, has been a notable theme in contemporary art in recent years.
The artists in the Aberdeen show were chosen from an open call publicised in North Macedonia in late 2018. The parameters of the open call invited applicants to focus on an aspect of the liminal in proposals of the new work that would be made for the exhibition.
Both Scotland and North Macedonia have been through significant political and social upheaval in recent times. The former Yugoslav republic changed its’ name in February, the end of a long and bitterly divisive process, that saw the people turn their back on right wing nationalism, and choose a course which has already seen North Macedonia join NATO, and begin to work seriously on EU accession after a lull in that process. These changes came about after scandalous revelations, via tape recordings, of the previous government’s involvement in corruption, criminality and malfeasance at the highest level.
Scotland, meanwhile, has faced prolonged uncertainty surrounding the Brexit process, and an ongoing debate as to the future constitutional status of the country, whether it should continue as part of the UK or seek independence within the broader frame of the EU. These factors have considerable implications for the work of artists, their ability to travel and make connections abroad, and indeed the long-term sustainable future of the current infrastructure for contemporary art in Scotland, should Brexit be delivered.
This however is the curatorial frame for the show rather than the subject of it. Responding to these broad parameters, each of the artists chosen have developed projects that are located- both on a macro and a micro level- within the concept of “in-between-ness”.
Ana Jovanovska trained as a printmaker, and has exhibited in over one hundred shows in Europe, the United States and South America. Her work in this show encourages audience interaction in response to the imagery that she has provided; engaging with the terms of Nicolas Bourriaud’s relational aesthetics, encouraging both participation, and a refusal to declare the artwork finished. Through use of a tablet and pen, the audience are strongly encouraged to amend and re-work the imagery that she has provided.
Ana Lazarevska’s is the most intimate of the three pieces on display. Her installation Bodies of Water, in a darkened space, is a piece which demands that the audience pay attention not only to the mechanics of her piece but also to one another, through that most elemental of sounds; the heartbeat.
If Lazarevska addresses the intimately personal in her installation, Ivana Sidzimovska’s video installation keeps its sights fixed firmly on the political imperatives of our time. Brexit Means Brexit is a piece which mixes the architecture and landscapes of the South East of England, with the anxieties and concerns of voters living through the current period of upheaval and uncertainty in UK politics. It is a subtle, nuanced corrective to the strident echo chambers of social media and the commodified personalities dominating the debate; a consistent layer of uncertainty and doubt as to the country’s direction underpins the piece.
Taken together, this group show, of artists all exhibiting in Scotland for the first time, offers some provocative and engaging responses to the notion of the “in between”. It also anticipates the return exhibition by two emerging Scottish artists- the painter Izzy Thomson, a graduate of Gray’s School of Art, and the sculptor Jack Handscombe, in Skopje in September.
The exhibition is accompanied by a full colour catalogue, featuring essays from Jon Blackwood, project curator, and Holly Yeoman, one of the selectors for the Aberdeen show, as well as detailed profiles of the participating artists. Catalogues are free to visitors for the duration of the exhibition.