Nada Prlja: Subversion in Red at the 58the Venice Biennale



In response to May, You Live in Interesting Times, selected by the curator Ralph Rugoff as the theme of the Biennale Arte 2019, Nada Prlja’s project Subversion to Red aims to playfully stimulate the search for alternative forms of art and socio-political formations, by revisiting specific concepts and societal models from the past through an interdisciplinary exhibition in which installation and performative practices co-exist, giving visual form to the Macedonian artist’s theoretical approach and contemporariness.

In reaction to Rugoff’s concerns about current conditions, Prlja’s project encourages a return to the ‘forgotten’ notions of idealism and ideology, as a form of motivation in contemporary society. It proposes a re-reading and de/re-construction of the postulates of Marxist theory and Leftist thought, in order to seek their compatibility with today’s society, by introducing intrinsic subversive qualities and playfulness of artistic practice as a way of indirectly influencing reality.

In dialogue with the historically and culturally significant architecture of Palazzo Rota Ivancich, which reflects an era in decline, the exhibition evokes manifold new meanings. The project employs a variety of artistic and non-artistic methodologies, including Red Discussion ll, an experimental live art event featuring several contemporary thinkers and curators engaged in transformative practices, including Charles Esche, Maurizio Lazzarato, Vlad Morariu (moderator), Chantal Mouffe, Laura Raicovich, Artan Sadiku, who will jointly seek to find exit strategies from the current conditions of social precariousness, exploitation, and violations, by defining alternative conditions to the “interesting times” in which we live.

The exhibition also includes Subtle Subversion, an installation that redefines a series of historically significant artworks from the 1960s that sought to escape from the strict framework of socialist realism through their modernist approach. The selected works are from the collection of MoCA Skopje, a collection of art and a museum both founded on the notion of Solidarity, one of the key postulates of leftist thought and a key aspiration of this project. Subversion to Red does not support the radical revolution and instead proposes that change can come through artistic actions and the subversion of theories, an approach that fosters the idea that everything is connected and amalgamated.

Prlja’s work deals with the complex situations of inequality and injustice in societies, ranging from political to economic issues. Using different media, her projects are multi-layered, site or condition-specific, as exemplified by her projects Advanced Science of Morphology, London, 2006; Foreign Language for Beginners, Manifesta, 2010; Peace Wall. Berlin Biennale, 2012 or Peace Wall, Replica, White Cube, London, 2013. She works mainly in the media of installation, live art, and art in public spaces.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an artbook with essays by key theorists and curators, including a transcript from Red Discussion I, Calvert 22 Foundation, London, 2013 featuring Dave Beech, Hannah Black, Gail Day, Mark Fisher, Vlad Morariu, and Nina Power.


Commissioner: Mira Gakina, is the director of the MoCA Skopje, a curator, and an art historian. She holds a Ph.D. in Art Management.

Curator: Jovanka Popova, is a curator at MoCA Skopje and at press to exit project space.

Curatorial collaborators: Tevž Logar, and Artan Sadiku (theorist collaborator). Tevž Logar is an independent curator from Slovenia, he curated the Slovenian Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2013.


Participants in the Performative Discussion:

Charles Esche is the director of the Van Abbe museum in Eindhoven, a curator, and a researcher.

Maurizio Lazzarato is a sociologist, philosopher, independent researcher, and one of the editors of Multitudes.

Chantal Mouffe is a political theorist. She holds a professorship at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster.

Vlad Morariu is a curator, researcher, and lecturer at Middlesex University. Laura Raicovich is a writer and art worker, former president, and executive director of the Queens Museum, New York.

Artan Sadiku is a researcher and theorist, with a Ph.D. in philosophy. He is an activist in the Macedonian Solidarnost movement.


The Pavilion has realized thanks to the SUPPORT of:

Ministry of Culture of the Republic of North Macedonia | Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia | Consulate General of the Republic of North Macedonia in Venice | Monozero | Feydom | SIA Gallery | The Link PR Network | Zavar | Ading | Eurolink | Tikveš | PlaceMakers | Ludus | fx3x | Opa Foundation | Dumbo Design Studio | Saint Gobain Rigips GmbH | Planet Scrl | cubo srl | Katrina Reitman | Farmahem | Pinar Ayvaz Arikan | Robert Jankuloski | Ana Lazarevska


The Republic of North Macedonia is represented by Subversion to Red, a solo exhibition by the artist Nada Prlja, at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Commissioned by Mira Gakina, the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje, the project is curated by Jovanka Popova, together with Tevž Logar curator in collaboration with Artan Sadiku (theorist collaborator). The Pavillion is realized with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of North Macedonia and several other organizations, companies, and individuals.


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