Saturday, September 27, 2014

Q&A: Elena Veljanovska

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
Original photo by Ivan Durgutovski.
Q&A with Elena Veljanovska: a curator fighting the good fight. By K.K.W 
Elena Veljanovska - (Middle). 
Photo courtesy of miss Veljanovska. 
K.K.W: I think with everyone in the "art-world", there's always a point they can remember deciding to work in the arts. When was this for you?

E.V: Interesting question - it takes me back to the beginning. But in fact for me there was never only one point of making a decision. My path was a bit all the way round, and I can't think of only one moment. It is rather a series of moments and events that were helping me to fortify my decision to remain in the art world. Maybe the most crucial moment was starting to work in a cultural center in Skopje, and feeling; what does it mean in reality, since at the University it was all about gaining some theoretical knowledge and there is no hands-on knowledge involved for the students.

K.K.W: Why be involved in the in art, and curator of it? Why not study archaeology being as you studied it at university?

E.V: I wanted to study Art-history, but back then these two fields were still studied under one 'umbrella' Institute for Art history and Archaeology. So there was not much of a choice. But during these studies I had a chance to work on archaeological excavations a couple of times I really appreciate that experience because it helped me to value artifacts from the past even more - by giving me a perspective in which I imagine how someone might perceive the things we do today in the future. 

I have been flirting with art ever since I was a kid, always drawing on the walls at home, for the doctors in the hospital, etc. In elementary school I was making up for math and physics low grades by being good in art subjects. Since there was some talent in me, normally I signed up at high school for applied arts, only to realize in the 4-year educational process that I am not able to articulate my ideas through creating artworks. But of course, I didn't feel like leaving the art world. This is how I decided to study art history, so I would be able to still work with art and contribute from another perspective. Back then I didn't know what exactly curating is, since one could not study that in the 1990's anywhere in the Balkan region, and I had no one from my family or closer surroundings to guide me. The role of the curator is known mostly in the art circles. I just knew I am interested in something live and active - not so much in the past, as much in the future - not really knowing what exactly that is. 

I was really lucky to start working very early in a cultural center in Skopje (Tocka), while studying. Also I was lucky to be part of art circles, attend workshops, read contemporary literature, up-to-date discussions, meetings with curators and curatorial initiatives from Macedonia and abroad. Finally being able to realize and articulate what I could most comfortably express by combining all my interests via curating. I am   part of one generation that was brought up by that art scene, a direct result of how a strong professional circle could shape someone professionally. As a curator I could combine my desire for working in a live and exciting environment; working directly with artists, discussing and exchanging ideas, developing concepts and enabling them an environment where they could be shown. Lately I am also getting more interested in passing my knowledge to younger artists or colleagues.        
Elena Veljanovska - photo courtesy of miss
Veljanovska.
K.K.W: As much as we can be open-minded, most play favorites based on tastes, what's popular & friendships, etc. Do you try to be open-minded, or just go with what strikes a cord when its comes to art? 

E.V: I guess its a combination of all these things for me. Collaboration with an artist(s) always means creating a specific and intense relationship. It is very common that friendships arise during these intense collaborations and exchanges, and one also has a greater insight of what are the capabilities and capacities of a certain artist. I usually have several artists with whom I am collaborating on longer terms. Be it because we share our views or develop our ideas simultaneously - or also very important - we are used to working together and there is a flow of communication and ideas when we are collaborating. As far as the content and personal development goes, all the things I am surrounded with on a daily basis, each exhibition that I visit and the articles and books I read, can be reflected in one way or another in the curatorial practice. I can se a slow but clear development in my interests since I started working as a curator until now. My taste, but also my judging of which artwork interests me has changed rapidly. This has a lot to do with our quite traditional education, not going further that the 1980's in art, and later on my practice being influenced by different types of art and personal involvements; new media, socially engaged art as well as art history. 

K.K.W: What do you love about art? 

E.V: That it can create a new space that is sometimes lacking, that it can speak in many different languages, that it can still experiment and try out new things. 

K.K.W: You once spoke of being considered [by some] outside the standard institutions and administrations - have you ever felt this gives you a unique outlook on art as a curator & organizer? 

E.V: It certainly gives you another perspective. I have built my experience outside of institutions and I have been part of a scene that was vital, creative, new and fresh, opposed to the local art institutions. I have always worked with small teams, and this gives you speed, mobility, flexibility and creativity. I see this only as an advantage because I had a chance to freely decide on the content of my work and also to have a chance to try out working with different styles, genres and methods and build up a lot of working experience. 

K.K.W: The Ministry of culture [in The Republic of Macedonia], does support the arts, but clearly thats only a small portion. What do you think can be done to increase its support of more creative people? 

E.V: The Ministry of culture spends most of their money on institutional support and on Skopje 2014 quasi-art projects. It is not a small portion, since in the last 4 years they spent more than 500.000 Euros of public money exclusively on the 'public art' project, let alone the regular institutional support. One easily comes to the conclusion that solely through restructuring of the budget, there could already be some change. But the problem is that the Ministry of culture is deaf to these requests. Some of the solutions that we were proposing with the association for independent cultural scene - Jadro for example, were: more frequent and flexible public calls, small production grants, transparent and fair decision making with clear criteria for the applicants, travel funds, support for participation on international art events and exhibitions abroad for artists and curators, as well as bigger support for the event costs and production within the country. In general, a bigger support for the unrecognized group of artists, organizations and cultural workers outside of the institutions that receive very little support and recognition for their work from the Ministry of culture. The artists almost always cover the production costs and lately I can se a decline in the artistic production, and often a very low quality of the works execution or downsizing of the ideas because of a lack of production funds.

K.K.W: Do you ever think that your country's political & economic situation [starting with its name], is keeping its cultural achievements in the arts from being fully recognized? 

E.V: Our country in the past years is living in a dream-like state, by creating its desired 'image' of what culture and art should be and represent. In this constructed reality, where everything is a facade of an imagined past, there is simply no space, let alone support for contemporary artists to work and develop professionally. The artists are left on there own without anyone really taking care of their professional development. Theirs is a world where there is neither support for their work from the public funds, non-existing private sponsorship, and of course non-existent commercial sector. The arts and culture are directly dependent on the Ministry of Culture and its directly funded institutions, which in the past years are interested only in funding the creation of "a past" for the country. This also results in a very low quality of works, shrinking of the art scene, very few young artists going further than few exhibitions and very few being able to exhibit outside of the country. So I guess the answer would be yes, the current political situation is keeping most people with talent from realizing their potential.           
Elena Veljanovska (far left) @ The Kanal 103
radio-station anniversary event May 2014.
Photo by K.K.W.
In every place, now more then ever, there seems to be obstacles and problems that require complex solutions. And yet history has shown its these situations that will give rise to change, and create an historic point where people will look back an wish they were apart of. "...people need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy..." (David S Goyer & Christopher Nolan - "Batman Begins"). 

If you would like to know more, go to:http://ngokontrapunkt.wordpress.com/, or:www.facebook.com/elena.vellu. 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Bklyn connection: Ngo Kontrapunkt

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
Original photo by Ivan Durgutovski.
NGO Kontrapunkt: The Brooklyn Connection. By K.K.W
Symbol/poster of Kontrapunkt.
Image courtesy of the organization. 
Prior to a few months ago I had never heard of Ngo Kontrapunkt - which is strange being as I probably know more about the country its in, then most people in Brooklyn. Life can be strange that way.

I had finally traveled to Skopje [in the Republic of Macedoina] last April and met - for the first time - many people I only knew through Facebook. One of them was Abe Ana Choveche [a Jazz singer & one of the most cultured people in her country], who I had not communicated with since Oct of 2011. At an anniversary event for Kanal 103 radio station with Abe Ana, I met Elena Veljanovska, a friend of her's and a curator who works with Kontrapunkt. Elena is an intriguing person with a deep sense of dedication, especially since she has built-up quite a resume outside of the normal administrations & networks of curators. 

@  the  Kanal 103 radio station anniversary
event. On the far left Elena Veljanovska,
& on the far right Abe Ana Choveche. photo by K.K.W.
After returning to NYC, I began thinking about having an exhibition for my project Rise Of The Young Ones, in Skopje,  perhaps Oct or maybe Nov [I had returned on May 2, 2014]. Elena was interested in the proposal and after agreeing, very supportive in getting the needed paperwork to make it happen.

Suggesting that I under-take an "artist-residency" for 3 months [given that the project involved documenting the urban landscape of Skopje], Elena began speaking with Iskra Geshoska, executive director of NGO Kontrapunkt, who in-turn agreed. Miss Geshoska took over the task of gathering the needed documents, after Elena had written the letter of invitation. It was a some-what long process, but Miss Geshoska was dedicated as the Sun in her duties [for a residency of such a length, the executive director had to sign the letter of invite, and procure few other forms as well]. Abe Ana Choveche facilitated the process between me here in NYC & Kontrapunkt; finding a translator for the documents and coordinating with Miss Geshoska on my behalf. 

It occurred to me this could be the beginning of a great international connection; not only for myself, but perhaps for other artists also here in Brooklyn, N.Y. With so many creative individuals in both places, there is an immense potential for diverse &  interesting creative endeavors. As with so many things it usually starts small, indirectly or by chance and has the potential to become so much more.  

Established in December 2001 in Skopje, Ngo Kontrapunkt is an association of citizens devoted to developing alternative urban cultural polices, and strengthening the culture of connecting - locally in South East Europe & internationally. The organization is committed to creating alternative public spaces, questioning models  of cultural actions based on the principles of diversity and integration. De- monopolization of culture, joint platforms, partnerships,  and exchange of creative ideas are at its core.   





Sunday, September 14, 2014

Prospero Vega

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
Original photo by Ivan Durgutovski.
"READING WHILE STANDING, READING WHILE WALKING" &
"FILED TRIP WITH PARENTS IN BUSHWICK". By K.K.W




The first time I heard Prospero Vega was at MC gallery [its short-lived open mic series], his spoken-word verses were fierce, raw and filled with a passionate observation for what he perceives. You either liked his writing for what it was, were indifferent, or hated him & it.  

Photo by K.K.W. 
Recently he's had 2 short stories published in a collection called Bushwick Nightz. Both are well-crafted, leading you through the poignant recollection of one man's view of a neighborhood he used to know.

"I don't know what films these people watch, what books they read, or how many languages their bulldog can nod to in Maria Hernandez Park. It's all gotten too fucked up. Is it the drugs? Again? Jesus I once pulled an all-nighter with a bunch of hipsters that got so high they made one guy take his pants off at 9 in the morning and shoved it in a microwave in order to cook rock residue from a twenty-year old bag..." [1]

Prospero Vega, photo courtesy of the writer.
A literal recounting of things passed, but also a personal account of how, who and changes within an area, placed against the arrival of interlopers. Straight forward in its honesty while looking back at everyday themes lost in the gentle, duplicitous fog of gentrification. Delivered with genuine frustration, moments of nostalgia laid bare for a public that just might learn something. 

"...I don't see them taking pictures with the hookers on Cypress and Willoughby or introducing them to their coke dealers or the teenage hooligans that spit at the floor whenever they walk by Bodega bar at 2am..." [2]

Prospero Vega, photo courtesy of the writer. 

Vega never tries to make Bushwick into something its not, he gives you what new-comers, hipsters, and everybody else may not want to see, or pretends isn't there. His vicious examining of interlopers and locals alike alludes to the heart of the matter; Its a rock and a fucking hard place. How do you love a place thats riddled with problems, yet have to for the sake of integrity, while slowly seeing it become something worse? You find middle ground without closing your eyes. Speak, write, scrawl, scream, take a stand, express urself and hope it makes even a marginal fucking difference. Much like reading, Prospero Vega is fundamental.   
Photo by K.K.W. 
1. "READING WHILE STANDING, READING WHILE WALKING", 2. "FIELD TRIP WITH PARENTS IN BUSHWICK". 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ruzica

This months by Aleksandar Ares,
with layout & original photo by K.K.W.
On the cover, Filip Panovski. 
Art and Animals: fighting the good fight. By K.K.W.
All art work by Ruzica (1-5)

Prior to meeting her in person for the first time [Skopje, of April 2014], we had been connected on Facebook, although I knew little about her. After meeting in the city center I was surprised at her passionate caring for animals, and more so at her visual creativity. 
Ruzica [which means Rose].
Photo courtesy of the artist,
editing by K.K.W
She seemed the type of person destined for animal rights activism, having been caring for animals since childhood [collecting them as well]. Apparently she heard a lamb being killed for Easter and vomited; choosing through this trauma never to eat meat again. And given the conservative nature of her country [The Republic of Macedonia], this was & still is quite difficult in many ways. 
Untitled #1, image courtesy of the artist.
Resolving to help improve the appalling situation of animal rights and care, she recently joined Anima Mundi Organization [based in Skopje].  "We are animal rights activists trying to raise awareness in our conservative society. It’s a slow and hard process, but I’m more than motivated. It’s so rewarding. The satisfaction I feel when I get one of my foster kids adopted, or I hear one of my recent friends stopped eating meat, stopped wearing leather… My heart is filled. I think this is my calling." Ruzica  has also been working with foster children and some from the Roma part of her society [Gypsies]. All of this is no easy task and certainly takes a staggering amount of dedication on her part.   
Untitled #2, image courtesy of the artist.
When it comes to art and creativity she told me "..I’ll blame the genes for this one, I’ve always known I will be an artist of some kind." She one two first prizes in an international drawing & painting contest early on, attended the state high school of applied arts, then went to university in Sofia Bulgaria. Being a movie addict she began to move towards costume design, having an obvious eye for detail, a flair for style and fashion ("... I’m a movie addict and a huge fan of Milena Canonero A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Marie Antoinette…It was somehow logical..."). With a simple illustrated style she creates vivid, interesting designs that could certainly be amazing costumes for screen, stage, a day spent lounging or an evening out. Her ink-pen & color approach gives a lively 3-D feel to what's only 2-D [a piece of paper]. 
Untitled #3, image courtesy of the artist.
"..Unfortunately Macedonia is a small country so we are lucky if there are three movies produced annually. You can imagine the chances of getting the work as a costume designer. Slim." Her portrait drawings? Stunning in their realism, elegant in the line work. Each one shows not just an ability to draw what she see, but something of the essence of the subjects. Each one seems like a moment, not frozen in time, but always about to move and come to life. 
Untitled #4, image courtesy of the artist.
"Now, I’ve started doing illustrations and anything that has to do with drawing, sketching, short-term projects. From photography to animation. I am interested in everything and slowly learning. Even worked as a sculptor for a brief period of time. I’m all over the place, because of my character and the fact that I live in Mkd. You just have to adjust."
Untitled #5, image courtesy of the artist.
Ruzica - digital art by K.K.W,
original photo of Ruzica courtesy of the artist.
If you would like to know more, go to:www.facebook.com/ruzica.tod.3?fref=ts&ref=br_tf. "Art is the reason, art is the way".

Friday, September 5, 2014

Filip Panovski

This months cover by Aleksandar Ares,
with layout & original photo by K.K.W.
On the cover, Filip Panovski. 
"Electric Reptility" & the R-complex; video-art by Panovski. By K.K.W
Filip Panovski, photo by K.K.W
There's a retro-primitive feel to the video - a strange connection to an ancient past
that has been forgotten by the common man, let lurks in subconscious of some.
It creates a fine line between art and idolatry; a subjective moodiness that shifts from light to dark, then back again. 
Still-shot from "Electric Reptility".
Photo by K.K.W, courtesy of the artist. 
While man in the generic sense considers itself superior, he longs [secretly] to return to the primitive; after all, the "reptilian brain"/R-complex [the brain stem] in humans is very similar with the brains of reptiles. And though mankind is warm-blooded, we often behave in a "cold-blooded" way that goes against the nature of civilization. The sculpture features a humanoid face with a body thats not totally reptilian, nor fully human, as it clings to what appears to be 3 books. Its mute, pensive, almost expressionless face stares forward with complete impunity.
Still-shot from "Electric Reptility".
Photo by K.K.W, courtesy of the artist.
Panovski's directing and editing is both subtle in its style yet powerful, which parallels the simplicity of the sculpture. The camera circles the subject like the members of a cult gathering around the icon of their deity. The strange movement 
from light to dark permeates the visuals like the first rising signs, of an acid-frenzy. Mirjana Nedeva's camera control is hypnotic, drawing you towards the sculpture, reinforcing the intensity and the moody feel. She certainly has a lot of skill. The music works in pace with the visuals, holding the other aspects together; an elegant-electronic, slightly-somber, pulsating, dark, digital-wave. 
Still-shot from "Electric Reptility".
Photo by K.K.W, courtesy of the artist.
Showing remarkable depth, skill and vision, "Electric Reptility" is a multi-layered, minimalist work that speaks in volumes. Its creativity simplicity is matched and parallel's the intriguing, and disturbing aspects its subconscious meaning. 

If you would like to know more, & or watch the video, go to:https://vimeo.com/101000889. 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fani Hristova

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
Original photo by Ivan Durgutovski. 
Q&A with Fani Hristova. By K.K.W


Recently returned from a gig in Switzerland, and before that Ios, Greece, she is one of the few DJ's who have had gig's many other countries. One of the best in her country, coming from a very eclectic musical upbringing, which is at the core of her abilities making her one of the most interesting people contemporary Macedonia.  

Fani Hristova. Image courtesy of
Miss Hristova. 
K.K.W: At what point in your life did you really begin to feel & be drawn to music?

F.H: Music is part of my life since ever. Being raised in a family where music is an everyday thing, I can’t really say that I remember specifically when I was enchanted by the music for the first time. Even if we talk about the music that I play, I would say the same. In my home we listen to Soul and Jazz, so I guess it’s not surprising at all that I chose Hip-Hop.

DJ Fani @ work. Image courtesy of
Miss Hristova. 
K.K.W: Hip-hop has spread all over the world, so when did you first start to get into it?

F.H: When I first heard The Fugees, back in 1996, I knew that this is my music! Our family friends from USA visited an they brought me a few tapes, and there it was this single ["Killing me softly"]. And few years after, I got one compilation CD, with some summer hits, and the only song that catch my ear was Nas’ “You can hate me now”. It was clear that I’ll go in that direction.


Modeling for Elena Luka,
photo courtesy of Miss Hristova. 
K.K.W: When did you become interested in being a DJ, was there someone or something that made do it?

F.H: With the fact that I already was into Hip-hop, I thought Macedonia missed this kind of music/parties even though it’s true what you said, Hip-hop was already spread all over the world. And I simply tried playing it - and It happened.

K.K.W: Your first gig, what was it like?

F.H: Even though it was my first, I still can put it in my  'Top 3 gigs'. Because it was Monday, and nobody here was making parties Monday. But very soon after I started, the same evening, the word was spread and a lot of people came. And that didn’t happen because of me, but because of the music. Hip-hop, ladies and gentleman.

K.K.W: Given that its probably tough for a female DJ anywhere, what about in Macedonia?

F.H: When I started, I was the only female Hip-hop DJ here. And I never see it as a man’s job, which is still my opinion. It was never tough for me. The only thing that matters here is: you have to really know and love this music, and be sure that you will make people have fun. This is my only rule for these 15 years I’m a DJ. I’m saying to myself: Fani, you are not aloud to go home, before you make the best party!

K.K.W: Have you ever thought of yourself as medium [or vessel] for the music,
like a conduit through which it flows into the people?


F.H: Yes. Like every other person, I have my good and my bad days, but I lock my mood when I’m leaving home. I have to be the medium when I enter in the club.

K.K.W: What were some of your favorite gigs, that you remember?

F.H: As I said my first one. Then the Halloween party in Basel, Switzerland 4 years ago, and my last party in Ios, Greece, this summer. But then it’s not fair to pick just few of them, because I enjoy all of my parties. So many memories…

K.K.W: Traveling for gigs is always tough, and gives you a few stories to tell, do you have any good or bad details to share?

F.H: Yes! Once I met a very nice guy on the plane, we had a nice conversation, he helped me with my luggage… very romantic. And after one month we started a relationship! Then once, coming back from a Red Bull party in Kosovo, they stop me before the border, from the routing control. They took my passport and didn’t want to give me back, because they thought that I am a Go Go dancer. In their perception it was impossible for a DJ to look like that and be so tall and skinny! Then my manager step up and show them my equipment, so they let me go. But I have millions situations…who knows, maybe one day I will put them in a book.

K.K.W: Have you ever considered yourself an example for a modern contemporary Macedonia?

F.H: Of course, but I keep the old school education and family values I have.

DJ Fani @ work. Image courtesy of
Miss Hristova. 
K.K.W: I know your seriously into Hip-hop & Rap, so what are some of your favorite albums?

F.H: Having the classical music education, I like the classic music, and also Jazz and Soul. But here are some of my favorite albums; 

Notorius B.I.G – Ready to die
Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black-Star
Wu tang - Forever
The roots - Phrenology 
Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Jay Z – The blueprint 


Hard @ rest, Fani Hristova.
Photo courtesy of Miss Hristova. 
If you would like to know more, go to:www.facebook.com/pages/Fani-Hristova/667857349973795?ref=profile. 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Kasiopeja Naumoska

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
Original photo by Ivan Durgutovski. 
A visual stream of consciousness: Kasiopeja Naumoska. By K.K.W 
Kasiopeja Naumoska. Photo courtesy of the artist.
For all the talk of abstract, expressionism, post this, post that, its all for not. There are those that paint what they see & others who paint what they feel, or a combination of the two. Then there are the few who create from some place else;
a voice inside the mind, or part of their soul.
Mr. Paradise oil on canvas 25 x 25 cm 2014. Image courtesy of the artist.
There's a darkness that hovers close to the light in Kasiopeja's paintings, beauty marred by the pain of reality. A story is told in 2-dimensional fury leaving open the door to the 3rd dimension. Sometimes bold lines are placed with intensity, accentuated by fierce quick brush-strokes. Figures who's forms are simply defined, faces that seem to tell a story and yet have only the beginnings of individuality - hidden from all [maybe even themselves]. Like Prometheus chained, their voices are heard only by those who can understand the pain, anger and the beauty of it.
Me and no one - oil on canvas 20x25 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.
There's a tenderness that permeates one of her strongest pieces; framed by dark and muted colors on the left, with burst of fire on the right [Never more]. No sun although there is light, a warmth flows out from the sadness of it, a feeling of regret or sorrow on the face of the figure. Has its world been reduced to ash like that of Carthage? Or seen heaven scorched when the Adversary was defeated & fell quick like lighting? If the bird it holds is a crow, perhaps the figure feels sorrow because of the message it brings. Whatever the reason, its a fantastic painting full of mystery, feeling and deeper meaning. 
NEVER MORE 80x80 cm, oil on canvas 2014 Image courtesy of the artist.
Kasiopeja's paintings are an amazing example of contemporary visual-art from The Republic of Macedonia. Vivid and muted colors fused with intense lines, thick layers of paint along with light strokes create worlds that are somewhat alien, and yet oddly familiar. 

If you would like to know more, go to:www.facebook.com/kasiopeja.naumoska?ref=br_tf. Or to make further inquiries about a purchase: kasiopeja.naumoska@gmail.com 'Art is the reason, art is the way'