|This months cover by K.K.W,|
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
Original photo by Ivan Durgutovski.
|Elena Veljanovska - (Middle). |
Photo courtesy of miss Veljanovska.
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|
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.