Novi Sad, Serbia.
Kuda has opened its doors in July 2001 in Novi Sad, Serbia. Regular
programming began in December 2001 Since that date over thirty events
were presented at Kuda. Three Kuda members Zoran Pantelic, Kristian
Lukic and Branka Curcic are involved in programming and a further
seven work on the coordination of the organization. A unique feature
of a Kuda event is the form of audio/video documentation they use.
This is facilitated by four wall-mounted video cameras which record
simultaneously. The resulting data is archived and becomes immediately
accessible for public use. Among the outstanding presentations Eric
Kluitenberg came from the Balie, Amsterdam in July. In September 2002,
Geert Lovink (Sydney/ Amsterdam) gave a lecture on The Cult of Surveillance
Paranoia. Also in September, Andreas Broeckmann (Berlin) presented
on Transmediale: Art plays global. Konrad Becker's lecture in May
was a preliminary event towards the big world-information.org exhibition
which will be hosted by Kuda in 2003.
This interview was conducted by e-mail over the summer
of 2002 with Zoran and through discussions with Kristian and Branka
on September 28, 2002 at the Tranzindex symposium in Cluj, Romania.
Zoran Pantelic received his MA in sculpture from the
Academy of Art in Novi Sad. In 1993 with three others, they founded
the apsolutno association which became known worldwide. The list of
projects and exhibitions of apsolutno is long and outside the framework
of this brief report. Zoran began preparatory work and negotiations
regarding Kuda in 1998. This became a reality after the political
changes in 2000.
Nina Czegledy: Can you tell me about the structure of Kuda
and the background
in the city of Novi Sad?
Zoran Pantelic: Kuda.org has three main segments: infocentre,
kuda.lounge and production. For the time being, the activities have
focused on the first two elements. Infocentre is a library/mediateque
where people can obtain information about the current developments
in the field of new technologies and art, exhibitions etc. This includes
free internet access. Kuda.lounge is a program of presentations and
talks by guests from Serbia and abroad. The aim for the next year
is to further develop these two elements, and to start with the production
Through the work of association apsolutno, we (its members) had an
opportunity to give presentations, visit and have contact with various
'first wave' media organizations (Public Netbase, V2, ZKM, Kiasma,
Ljudmila) and smaller centers such as mikro. This is how we realized
that a space devoted to new media is necessary in Novi Sad. I tried
to initiate such a place for a long time, but it was only possible
to do it after the political changes in 2000, when the new town authorities
allocated a small space for this purpose.
Novi Sad is the second largest city in Serbia and an important university
centre. The student body is the main target group of kuda.org. At
the moment, the audience is still small because of many reasons: the
activities and programs of kuda.org are publicized through e-mail,
and this is not yet widely available. The more important reason is
that talking about new technologies requires a certain level of technical
literacy and an interest in these issues. That is why one of the important
goals of kuda.org is developing both technological literacy and a
critical attitude towards the new media.
NC: Prior to establishing KUDA and continuing up to the present
you have been a founding member of Apsolutno. Can you tell me about
the activities of apsolutno in more detail?
ZP: Apsolutno is a collective of four members, which started
in 1995 in Novi Sad (www.apsolutno.org).
At the moment, all the members live in different countries (US, Hungary,
Serbia) and the way we collaborate has changed as it relies mostly
on electronic communication. After five years of extremely intensive
work, the activities of apsolutno have somewhat slowed down but this
year we've had important exhibitions, including Manifesta and Bigtorino.
In November we are having a solo exhibition in the Museum of Contemporary
Art in Belgrade.
NC: Is Kuda connected to your apsolutno experience?.
ZP: Absolutely. The apsolutno experience enabled me to meet
great personalities active in different spheres: artists, media activists,
theoreticians etc. many of them helped me with advice, support, information,
books etc. when I was establishing kuda.org. many of them were also
presenters in the kuda.lounge program. At the same time, the original
aims of apsolutno are still present in kuda.org, but now in a different
form, focusing on social and educational aspects.
NC: What are your future plans?
ZP: There are many plans: to continue with apsolutno work,
to establish kuda.org on a financially stronger basis, to develop
production facilities, to extend the network of collaborators and
to reach greater audience. There is great potential in Serbia at the
moment which is not visible yet: many creative young people who were
completely invisible in the last ten years are now coming on to the
scene, kuda.org is open to them. One of the biggest projects next
year is the exhibition world.information.org, produced by Public Netbase
from Vienna, and shown in Brussels, Vienna, Sydney, Amsterdam. Kuda.org
is bringing this exhibition to Novi Sad and Belgrade to promote the
understanding of the new phenomena of the times we live in.
TWO ARTISTS - TWO CURATORS
Two artists - Two curators, has been established in 2001 in Budapest,
Hungary by Roza El-Hassan, Dora Hegyi, Janos Sugar and Emese Suvecz.
Exhibitions are open for one evening on Fridays between 19:00 and
22:00h and topics range widely. Between the summer of 2001 and 2002,
events were presented weekly. On September 20, 2002, London based,
David Wilkinson's small porcelain figures were on show, obtained from
flee markets. Last November Vadim Fishkin, internationally known artist
presented his work and views - just to name two examples. The audience
numbers on the average thirty to forty people, but the importance
of these events is much better reflected in other projects and shows
which were informally initiated at these weekly meetings. Up till
now most of the events were shown in the studio of Janos Sugar - from
now on nomadic plans are developed for other sites. "I feel that
the open discussion and presentation of issues which have been "swept
under the carpet" is the most important feature of our activities"
- said Janos. These activities were recently featured in the Budapest
Box exhibition focusing on "the artist as curator" and presenting
alternative Hungarian cultural projects since 1989 in the Ludwig Museum
of Budapest/ Museum of Contemporary Art. This exhibition, curated
by Dora Hegyi and Katalin Timar was unique in many ways. I was most
impressed by the curatorial process which involved the active participation
of the exhibiting groups and individual artists.
Emese Sovecz works as an independent curator and writer. Trained as
an art historian, in her postgraduate studies she focused on gender
Dora Hegyi, art historian works as a curator at the Ludwig Museum
of Budapest/ Museum of Contemporary Art.
Roza El-Hassan, artist works with installations, videos, sculpture
and has shown her work internationally. Roza has been instrumental
in developing collaborative projects between Central European artists.
Janos Sugar studied sculpture at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts
in Budapest (1979-84) and worked with Indigo, the interdisciplinary
art group led by MiklÛs ErdÈly from 1980-86. His work
includes installations, performances, as well as film and video. He
has been teaching art and media theory in the Intermedia Department
of the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts since 1990, and has exhibited
widely throughout Europe and beyond. http://www.icols.org/pages/JSugar/JSugar.html.
The interview with Janos Sugar was conducted over e-mail and by personal
conversation on September 25, 2002.
Nina Czegledy: You have initiated the 2 artists 2 curator project
less than a year ago. How and why did this initiative become such
a successful reality in a city full of galleries and cultural events?
Janos Sugar: It started, as every well functioning concept
starts, as a series of ad hoc, random, occasional, informal talks
among friends. We all worked already together in several forms and
contexts, Roza El Hassan, Dora Hegyi and Emese Suvecz. With Roza we
exhibited several times together, we both used to work with the Vienna
gallerist, Hans Knoll; Dora is a curator of Ludwig Museum/Contemporary
Art Museum, Budapest; and Emese was the director of the Budapest branch
of Knoll Gallery, Vienna. And we all draw similar consequences from
our different activities, namely something is missing in the art scene:
attention to a living dialogue.
In 2000/2001 the artist group _Kisvarso_ started discussions in their
studio, called _Artwork of the Week_. It turned out a huge success,
every second week Wednesday evenings 40-50 people discussed one particular
artwork. There were other signs that talks, discussions became important,
like a new underground movement. The institutions are clumsy, disoriented,
or politically manipulated, and, of course, under financed-in the
worst case all at the same time. There is no active art criticism;
the visual arts are presenting a sort of a blind spot for the general
audience. The professional audience suffers in a sort of an attention
deficit disorder, there is no systematical critical activity, most
of the art history of the last 50, 60 years remains undiscovered.
In this aspect the situation did not change in comparison to the eighties
in Hungary: contemporary visual art is not part of the intellectual
discourse. Meanwhile cultural activity is remarkably strong and colorful.
It is a strange contradiction in a country, where the literary scene
is rich and professional.
NC: I have been very impressed by the spontaneous events you
organize. Can you describe these activities and your aims?
JS: Between October 19. and March 22. we organized every Friday
from 7 to 10 PM one-night exhibitions, all together 30. Originally
we planned other sites as well, but since we had a cold winter the
venue was my studio, where I have heating. My studio is rather small,
the exhibition area is about 30 sqm, but it is in a good location:
on the ground floor in a backyard in the center of the city. We exhibited
strategies which we liked and considered important to think about.
I call it _attention recycling_. We showed a broad range of artists
from well known painters to Estonian videos, from cartoon artist to
the black books of graffiti artists, etc. So, there was always an
interesting small show, and with such a background most of the discussions
centered on art. And we made another important decision, that instead
of the low quality, so called gallery wine, we tried to offer some
better wine, this was our main investment. We organized chairs too,
so people could just sit and hang out. I consider the whole thing
rather paradigmatic, as the role of art is changing the _real life_
aspect of art becomes important.
NC: Please tell me about your audience
JS: We deliberately didn't want to reach masses, we were curious
to see if the _mouth propaganda_ works. We sent out only e-mails,
which is a very low key solution in the competitive "invitation-card"
world. We attracted about 40 regulars, mainly artists and curators.
Soon the whole thing developed into an informal weekly meeting point
for them, for us. There were several projects, initiatives starting
from a discussion at the studio to a small show in the Budapest Ludwig
Museum/Contemporary Art Museum, curated by Dora Hegyi; and an online
newsletter (editor Katalin Timar).
NC: You are a practicing artist. Can you tell me about your
work in more detail?
JS: I am in-between smaller and larger shows, and yet uncertain
projects. I just had a gallery show in Rome (CafÈ Europe, Center
for Contemporary Art). The video I made in the last year (Typewriter
of the Illiterate, DV 8Min) is purchased by the Frankfurt Museum of
Modern Art. This video will be shown in an itinerary exhibition entitled
"Without emergency exit", organized by MECAD of Barcelona.
Now I am just looking for post production support of a nearly finished
feature length film, Faust Again.
NC: What are your plans for the future?
JS: There will be a large exhibition called _Budapest Box_
in the Budapest Ludwig Museum/Contemporary Art Museum, curated by
Dora Hegyi and Katalin Timar, and the theme is: Artists as Curators.
The show tries to present all the artists initiated galleries, independent
programs of the nineties. The KMKK will of course participate. And
we plan to go further with the KMKK idea - maybe in other forms.
Nina Czegledy 10.02