Monday, March 25, 2013

Marija Mokrova Q&A

This months cover featuring
electronic-rock band noon:30.
Original photo courtesy of the band,
digital augmentation by K.K.W.
Public Space in Skopje: Q&A with Marija Mokrova. By K.K.W

This month we're featuring some interesting young women who are not just the some of their parts, but the product of over a century of the modern women's movement.    
Marija Mokrova.
Photo courtesy of miss Mokrova.
SP: Marija, thanks so much for taking the time for the interview.

MM: Your very welcome Kerwin.

SP: Every city has parks, however does Skopje have public spaces other then parks and do they have free wi-fi (internet), chess tables?
Are any of them enclosed, giving protection from the elements with comfortable seating?

MM: Aside from parks, or the quay of the river Vardar, or natures most precious gift to the city - the hill called Vodno - I can't really think spaces purposefully created for the recreation, entertainment, relaxation of the of the citizens of the city. Wi-Fi is generally available in the center of Skopje, around the main square, and there are benches. One could consider certain zones in the city as so-called public space...but the thing is, in the mind of this architectural layman, a public space should have a...meaning. It should materialize a deeper and elaborated idea, it should give a three-dimensional form to a concept that includes several aspects of urban life - be these creation/or exposition of street-art, challenges in popular games, or even presentation of popular dishes for the "skopj-nians."

SP: What are your, if any, favorite public spaces in Skopje?

MM: I really cannot categorize any place as a public space as such, but there are some places where...I can still feel the city's...  soul. Or dying soul, more appropriate to the to the current situation. There use to be more but recent changes in the city's appearance have literally destroyed them. A very cool spot is the terrace of The Museum of Contemporary Art, a forgotten jewel in Skopje, located on a hill overlooking the quay of Vardar, the city park, and part of the city's center. Kurshumli An - a cult spot in the Old Bazaar, still a beloved choice for open-air concerts and a charming corner of the city. Then again, the entire Old Bazaar is; a goner, several benches right next to "Dom na ARM", the were close to the central street called "Macedonia" with a view to the space right in front of the institutions entrance, where different groups of young people and/or couples used to hang out.

SP: When it comes to public spaces in Skopje, what is your opinion of them? What should be added?

MM: ...As I cannot really say that they exist, I guess my only comment would be that...the lack of such spaces only speaks about the... impoverishment of the city's spirit, the disregard of certain circles of Skopje's population, and lack of "dialouge" between people on positions, actual artists and the "common" people that live Skopje's everyday life, and make it so uncommon in so many ways.

SP: The project "Skopje 2014" has made some major changes to the city, but has it affected public spaces in a really negative way, and if so how?

MM: Numerous green spaces have been destroyed. Not parks per se, but just small, green spaces in the midst of the edifices and constructions where people would just sit, talk, spend a moment or two and chat with neighbors. A lot of spots that epitomized the "neighborhood feel" of the city are long gone now; the ultra kitsch edifices that have flooded the center of Skopje leave no room for anything resembling a public space. I'd rather not comment on the rest of the effects of the above-mentioned project has, as it is literally raping the city.

SP: In New York City many of the "modern" buildings have public spaces built next to them, some are within the structures (a city zoning law passed in 1961 gives incentives to private developers for doing this). Does Skopje have any public spaces like this, and do you think your city should pass a similar zoning law? 

MM: Not sure if this really applies to Skopje. I'm not sure that any laws (social, architectural, natural, feng Shui, and any other one I can think of) are being respected in the recent changes that have affected the city. 

SP: If you could design a public space what would you have available for the people? 

MM: A spot for musical performances...maybe sort of wooden cabins for the passerby to have a taste of the latest Skopje crazes - a new cocktail, a new dish perhaps, a pastry or something. A corner for artist who want to create their art in front of the public... occasional presentations of popular radio shows, maybe (Ah, Kanal 103's Pink Cadillac comes to mind)...I don't know...I guess, a place that would reflect the most prominent aspects of urban life, in terms of musical preferences, arts, theatre, food, games...                      
Marija Mokrova.
Photo courtesy of miss Mokrova.
When it comes to public space (parks, plazas, squares, etc, & modern public space)  in any city its most important aspects is how it interacts with the area around it, and how people of varying degrees relate to it.
Aside from this, its part of what makes for a healthy urban existence and promotes harmony within the city.

"Art is the reason, art is the way"

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