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No Feeling is Final. The Skopje Solidarity Collection

21/03/2024 – 29/09/2024

National Gallery Prague

A cooperation between Kunsthalle Wien, the National Gallery of Prague and MoCA Skopje

Curators: What, How & for Whom / WHW (Ivet Ćurlin, Nataša Ilić, and Sabina Sabolović) and Rado Ištok

The international group exhibition No Feeling Is Final. The Skopje Solidarity Collection revolves around the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) Skopje’s unusual collection of modern works, as well as the historical and political context of this extraordinary project. After the massive earthquake that hit Skopje in 1963, there was a huge effort to help rebuild the devastated city, as a large-scale gesture of international solidarity. The decision was made to establish a museum of contemporary art as a key cultural element of the reconstruction, and thousands of works were donated to Skopje by artists from around the world. The collection of MoCA Skopje represents a time capsule of late modernism across the Iron Curtain, as it goes beyond the established Western canon and incorporates works by artists from the former Eastern Bloc and artists from the then Third World or Global South. Originally held at Kunsthalle Wien in 2023, the exhibition will be presented at the National Gallery Prague (NGP) in a modified version, expanded to include donations from both Czechoslovak artists and the NGP itself, which contributed a selection of works of classical modernism. 

Four contemporary artists and two artist duos ⁠[Jesper Alvaer and Isabela Grosseová (Prague and Kvænangen), Brook Andrew (Medellín and Melbourne), Yane Calovski and Hristina lvanoska (Skopje and Berlin), Siniša Ilić (Belgrade), Iman lssa (Vienna and Berlin), and Gülsün Karamustafa (Istanbul and Berlin)]⁠ were invited to pick works from MoCA Skopje’s collection that resonate with their respective artistic practices. By selecting around ten historical works each and complementing them with their own pieces, they created subjective exhibitions showing the collection through the lens of today’s artists. These personalized displays using architectural design created by the artists extend the backbone of the exhibition, which features historical works selected by the exhibition curators and archival material, including models of iconic buildings and Kenzō Tange’s model of the master plan of the city centre. To convey a media image of the natural disaster and the subsequent rebuilding of the city, the exhibition makes use of the then-emerging television broadcasting.

Furthermore, renowned photographer Elfie Semotan (Vienna and Jennersdorf) was invited to present a new series of photographs documenting the cityscape of Skopje as well as MoCA Skopje’s exhibition spaces and depository. Writer Barbi Marković (Vienna)–known for her sharp combination of fiction and social reality–wrote a travelogue about her experience of confronting the complex and multi-layered histories of Skopje.

Blagoja Varošanec, project coordinator and research consultant, Vladimir Jančevski, consultant and author of part of the texts on the artists, as well as conservators Ljupčo Iljovski and Jadranka Milčovska were the MoCA Skopje staff involved in the preparation of the exhibition.

From the MoCA collection, works of the following artists travelled to Prague: Pablo Picasso, David Hockney, Petar Lubarda, Nikola Martinoski, Dimitar Avramovski Pandilov, Victor Vasarely, Jasper Johns, Alex Katz, Alberto Burri, Dušan Perčinkov, Aneta Svetieva, Alexander Calder, Gligor Stefanov, Pierre Alechinsky, Hristo, Tomo Vladimirski, Oto Logo, Dimo Todorovski, Vladimir Veličković, Sheila Hicks, Ion Grigorescu, Olga Jevrić, Enrico Baj, Olga Peczenko-Srzednicka, Bogoja Popovski, Meret Oppenheim, Getulio Alviani, Anna-Eva Bergman, Roberto Matta,  Zoltán Kemény, Zao Wou-Ki, Hans Hartung, Emil Filla, František Muzika, Čestmír Kafka, Jindřich Štyrský, Jozef Jankovič, Jan Zrzavý, Orsolya Drozdik, and many others. 

The exhibition offers a new perspective of the history of post-war modern art through this unique collection. It is also an invitation to reflect on historical and contemporary forms of solidarity and the role of art in a time marked by conflict, destruction, and uncertainty, but also by cohesion, renewal, and a vision of a hopeful future.    

*This is an adaptation of the official NGP text

 

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