ECSTATIC BODIES: Skopje Pride Weekend 2022

Museum of Contemporary Art SKopje

02. June – 02. July, 2022

This year is the 10th edition of the Skopje Pride Weekend, festival for queer arts, culture and theory, whose goal is creating space for presentation and promotion of non-normative forms of world-making, that is to say relations, affects, identity positions, bodily styles and sensibilities that have been marked, by the heteronormative, nationalistic and neoliberal capitalist context, as queer, eccentric failures.

Starting from the presumption that intersectionality is the crucial paradigm by the means of which all identity positions are constructed and performed, including the gender and sexual identities, with the programme we want to offer radical and multifaceted critique of the binary gender system, heteronormativity and nationalistic homophobia, as well of the intersections of these oppressive and disciplinary regimes of power with class, ethnicity, race and health. Queerness, as the foundational premise of our festival, signifies a way of life, art of the stylization of one’s own and collective life, a political tool and attitude that resists the dominant models of power/knowledge that orchestrate and regulate some sexual and gender identities as “normal,” while others as “queer.” The queer political and cultural orientation critically investigates and problematizes our desires and aspirations for conformism and normality, including the hegemonic assumption and values about love, intimacy, kinship, embodiment, capitalist competitiveness and egoism, commodity fetishism, as well as the contemporary discursive performatives of the nation-state. 

The programme’s focus of the Skopje Pride Weekend is set on cultural and arts performing practices, as well as gender, sexuality and queer theory’s knowledge productions and critique. This choice is made on the grounds of our commitment to the idea that the “aesthetic” is deeply engrained in the corporeal experience, and as such lies in the base of the social, cultural and political experience.  Hence, if the political ideology and hegemonic cultural models instill their orders on the citizens’ bodies and shape their emotional orientations and sensibilities (the aesthetic domain), the body and the affective and emotional relations become the crucial site for thinking and creating resistance and alternative life forms. The performing arts and body arts practices mobilize exactly these tensions of power inscribed in our bodies, and subversively redirect them in alternative and non-normative directions. The body, in the critical feminist and queer performative practices is the battleground whereby power relations are actualized and contested. Transdisciplinarityis the other program orientation of the Festival, and through it we want to establish a dialogue between different social sciences and humanities disciplines, cultural and artistic practices, and political and public discourses, as well as to promote gender and queer theory discourses in our context, as a new methodological frameworks for the reception of art, and a critical interpretation of political reality.

Slavcho Dimitrov, Curator of the Skopje Pride Weekend (Excerpt from the introduction to the catalogue)

Exhibition: „Ecstatic Bodies: Archive of Performative Queer Bodies in Macedonia“

The exhibition is the result of a joint research and curatorial project of Slavcho Dimitrov and Biljana Tanurovska-Kulavkovski. The research and exhibition focus on various performing, dancing and curatorial practices, ie performative aspects in the field of art and beyond, in North Macedonia. These practices stage what we call the “other body”, whose otherness is set in relation to institutionalized artistic frameworks, normative and hegemonic (bio) political apparatuses (Foucault) and the “distribution of the sensible” (Ranciere), and, in particular, the sexual and gender regimes of body politics. This archive of contemporary queer / feminist performances in Macedonia will cover the period from the last 4 decades, more precisely from the 70s of the 20th century until today. It explores and incorporates: a variety of art performance practices, which we approach as feminist performances and practices within the visual and performing arts, queer performances, everyday queer and club choreographies in the 1990s and today, the beginnings of gender studies and theory, political performance, the festival for queer arts, culture and theory Skopje Weekend of Pride, as well as other festivals and practices that we research and read in the field of the set problem and topic.

The exhibition does not aim to present a history of the visual, performing and discursive representations of sexual and gender minorities in Northern Macedonia, nor to frame the queer performative in terms of identity. That is why the queer performative and the queer performative body are placed in a broader context of performance practices that mobilize the dual agency embedded in performance, ie the gap between “doing” and “showing-doing”, between the self-conscious and self-reflective subject – “I”  and the embodied and social self. That is, between the identity absorption in the iterative play, performance and embodiment of norms and hegemonic material-discursive structures, and theatricalization / dramatization as showing, externalization and rearticulation of bodily norms and negative affects, abject experiences and stigma.

with: Wolfgang Tillmans | Nora Stojanovic | Milosh Kodzoman and Dragoljub Bezan| Hristina Ivanoska | Velimir Zernovski |Yane Chalovski | Sands Murray Wassink | Kocho Andonovski | Natasha Geleva | STEAM ROOM | Aleksandar Georgiev | Dario Barreto Damas | Viktorija Ilioska | Laura Fer| Mirko Popov | Zoran Ristevski-Bajbe | Ivana Dragsic | Sonja Ismail |TEMPLUM | Euro-Balkan Institute |Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities Skopje | Museum of Contemporary Arts | FRIK Festival | First Born Girl | Skopje Pride Weekend|

Curators: Slavcho Dimitrov and Biljana Tanurovska-Kjulavkovski  (Excerpt from the introduction in the catalogue to the exhibition)

Programme at the Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje

02 June

Opening of the exhibition „Ecstatic Bodies: Archive of Performative Queer Bodies in Macedonia“

02 June

Aleksandar Georgiev

“Echoes of S”
landscaped choreographic work

 02 June

Hristina Ivanoska
„Document Missing: Performance no. 6 (Daughter)“, 2017/2022

 03 June

Julie Tolentino & Stosh Fila

Performance-installation and durational performance

In collaboration with: Ivana Dragsic, Jovan Josifovski, Aleksandar Georgiev, and Jovan Gakovski

*Performance and a conversation with Julie Tolentino

 4 June

David Hoyle
David Hoyle: Live in Skopje

 7 June

Jasmina Tumbas
Lecture: „I am Jugoslovenka!”: Feminist performance politics during and after Yugoslav Socialism “

Photo credit: Sonja Stavrova