13/09/ 2022 - 25/10/ 2022
Simon Uzunovski was a key figure in the new art practice in Macedonia in the 1970s. In his conceptual projects, he abandons the artistic means of traditional art disciplines and uses solely fabricated everyday objects and materials. Until 1984, his art projects took place in spaces and environments outside of professional galleries or institutions. These projects were profiled as spatial and ambient associative installations or developed as processes of works in progress, for example, duct tape rolls that were gradually shaped over time to the level of “completion” decided by the artist. Perhaps the most significant modus operandi in Uzunovski’s conceptual approach was the social dimension in the performance of his projects through the active involvement of the audience in attendance, his colleagues and friends, in the development and the creation of the “works”. The audience active participation was the dominant credo of his permanent performative activism in the realization of the concept of an open work as a social event or happening, including aspects of artistic action, both topical and provocative also for the current culture and art situation.
“The retrospective exhibition of Uzunovski aims not only to present his work retrospectively, but also theoretically to shed light on his exceptional appearance. The focus of the exhibition is, however, on the 1970’s which was the most significant period for his creative work, a period when alternative artistic practices penetrated the local scene, as part of the Yugoslav cultural space. Simon Uzunovski is the key figure of these new artistic practices in Macedonia. With his artistic activity, Uzunovski opened a completely different approach to the understanding of art, which called into question the established conventional linguistic and aesthetic norms of traditional art disciplines,” say the curators.
The exhibition features more than 100 objects, figurines, collages, drawings, assemblages and applications made with Scotch tape, the material by which Simon Uzunovski’s work is most often recognizable. The unique, ephemeral installations, performances and actions with which Uzunovski involves a wide circle of friends, colleagues, acquaintances and the public in the creation of several major works will be presented with extensive photo documentation, which will simultaneously show the time of the 1970s and the enthusiasm and the energy with which Uzunovski managed to contagiously spread the idea of the democratization of art and its approach to the manifestations of everyday life.
Simon Uzunovski (1949-2019) was active on the stage for almost 50 years, and for several years he worked and lived on the Italian island of Capri. The most radical artistic breakthroughs were achieved by Simon Uzunovski in the second half of the 1970s with the realization of a number of exhibitions, actions and participatory spatial installations, such as those in the Hall of the Faculty of Philosophy (1977 and 1978) within the framework of the activity of the Aesthetic Laboratory, then at Kora Gallery (1977), Street Action (1977) and the legendary exhibition/installation in the basement space of Maxim Gorky Street (1978 or 1979). In 1984, he participated in the exhibition “New Tenedencies in Macedonian Art in the Last Decade”, held in the Youth Center, Skopje. In the same year, he realized his solo exhibition/ambient installation in the Youth Center. In 1994, his twenty years of work was shown in the Museum of the City of Skopje, and in 1995, 1996 and 1997, he participated in the exhibitions Two Baths. Since 2003, his presence in the Museum of Contemporary Art has become more frequent when he is part of the project “Ideateque” (A selection of documents from the conceptual discourse in Macedonia), “Invisible landscape” 2013, “Solidarity-unfinished project” (The permanent exhibition), 2014 and “The main points of Macedonian fine art in the 1970s and 1980s”, 2020. With his tireless energy, readiness for action and openness to involvement in contemporary art trends, Uzunovski was also present in recent years in the alternative breakthroughs of some of the younger generations of artists, gathered around informal collective action, the initiative “Cooperation” and their activity facing criticism of the institutional and ideologically and politically determined cultural policy.
Uzunovski was one of the first collaborators of the scenographer Krste Djidrov-Djibi, from the end of the 1970s and during the 1980s. They worked together on about 15 scenographies, and the tenth edition of Young Open Theater – MOT was opened precisely with their joint exhibition.
The curators of the project are five art historians: Ljiljana Nedelkovska, Lazo Plavevski, Marika Bochvarova Plavevska, Zoran Petrovski, , Valentino Dimitrovski who were close friends of Uzunovski and direct witnesses of his actions since the 1970s. Associate curator of the exhibition is Blagoja Varoshanec and conservators Ljupco Iljovski and Jadranka Milchovska.
The exhibition is realized with the support of the Ministry of Culture of North Macedonia and EVN – Macedonia.
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