The Blue Labyrinth, or “Know Thyself”

The Blue Labyrinth, or “Know Thyself”

by Artrit Bytyçi

Enter, Meet Yourself by Likana Cana is an exhibition that complements her Fluxus-inspired artbook, This is a Mirror.

The blue of the tulle textile that spans the event and exhibition spaces will undoubtedly be the first thing to strike you as an audience. Like an ether of a spirit frozen in time, it will invite you to follow it as it makes its twists and turns throughout Autostrada Hangar, leading you to the pièce de résistance — the installation reminiscent of a labyrinth.

What, pray tell, will you find there? The experience will be different for each of you.

At the gates, perhaps some of you might hesitate. “What blue magic might this be,” some of you could say. Others, as you blink, your eyes might betray you as you’d swear that you read the inscription leading to Dante’s underworld — “Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here”. And with good reason, for our daily lives have become so overburdened with thoughts so heavy, Dante would’ve had to invent a new circle just to classify the maladies of the modern human condition.

But fear not, brave (exhibition) visitor. Imagine you are in ancient times, and you have come to meet the oracle. Imagine that you are in Dodona or Delphi, and the inscription at the gates is “Know thyself.” Except that, you are your own oracle. You will be doing the hard work, and reaping the sweet rewards of your labors.

The meaning you will be leaving with after this exhibition is custom-tailored to you, by you.

Yet, it still is a quest, akin to that of heroes of old.

The blue labyrinth through which you will pass might as well be the folds of your own brain, shaped by your own experience.

The event scores you will read — like the ones found within the pages of This is a Mirror — will be subject to your own interpretation, action, performance, and healing. They will be a reflection of you, just like with a mirror.

This is the place where you will meet yourself. The first step towards knowing yourself. The first step towards seeing your own true reflection. The first step towards healing yourself.

On this journey, you may scream, or break an object, or even stare at something for a long time. For, figuring out yourself is like traveling through a blue semi-transparent medium — it is concrete and abstract at the same time. Both tangible and intangible. You can touch it, yet it escapes you like ether.

Reading This is a Mirror could often feel the same. It can feel blue.

Enter here all ye who still hope and want to know thyselves.

Enter, Meet Yourself is an exhibition by Likana Cana that complements her Fluxus inspired artbook, This is a Mirror | edited and curated by Artrit Bytyçi | produced by Autostrada Biennale.

Enter, Meet Yourself

Enter, Meet yourself

by Likana Cana and Artrit Bytyçi

This is a Mirror is not just like any artbook — it can only exist if the audience interacts with it. It can only exist outside the pages, if the audience participates and engages with it.

The purpose of the Enter, Meet Yourself exhibition is to pay tribute to this book’s participatory nature.

This is a Mirror book is a Fluxus artwork that consists of event scores — performance art scripts that were widely used by Fluxus artists to convey the merger between art and life. The scores exist at the intersection between the playful and the philosophical, contemplative and ritualistic, with nuances of hope, care, and, in the case of This is a Mirror, they stress the importance of psychological processing.

Just as with the Fluxus movement, the participatory nature of works in This is a Mirror and its sister exhibition, Enter, Meet Yourself, create more space for the audience. The consumption which characterizes society nowadays, adds to our mental mess… It is the opposite with these works — instead of filling your mind with the content clutter, they free it up by exploring the possibilities of the mind, through our interactions with the planet and the universe.

The title This is a Mirror over a blue background suggests the power to reflect back on your soul; it reflects the unseen version of you back to yourself. More literally: if you stand in front of a mirror, you will see yourself; if you don’t, it reflects back an empty space. So, with This is a Mirror, you need to stand in front of it, to open it, to read it, so that the rhythm of your mind, essence, and soul, can be reflected back to you.

The mind has infinite dimensions, and the color blue speaks the language of infinity. It opens a portal where the seen and the unseen — the conscious and the unconscious — merge. Blue lives in both planes of existence. Blue makes the invisible visible by giving the object it surrounds an immaterial dimension.

The presence of the color blue in the installations of Enter, Meet Yourself invites you to enter a portal where the material and the immaterial, the conscious and the unconscious, the seen and the unseen merge. It gives the exhibition space an ethereal dimension and invites the audience to open their minds through event scores so that they can take it all in.

The transparent blue tulle as the most prominent material used in this exhibition serves as a medium at the intersection between the seen and the unseen, material and immaterial. Since the fabric is so soft, so transparent, the installation is both here and not here. Its impermanence gives rise to a liminal space between the physical and the spiritual.

Blue is a color that invites contemplation, introspection, stillness, and being in the present moment. It ignites a hope that things beyond the visible spectrum are possible and are all around us. 

Enter, Meet Yourself is an exhibition by Likana Cana that complements her Fluxus inspired artbook, This is a Mirror | edited and curated by Artrit Bytyçi | produced by Autostrada Biennale.

NSK Territory Prishtina: An IRWIN project at On Top Residency

NSK Territory Prishtina
An IRWIN project at On Top Residency

by Artrit Bytyçi

Slovenian art collective IRWIN and Epifani Institute from Prishtina, Kosovo are announcing the ‘NSK Territory Prishtina’, their joint project at the location of On Top Residency set to launch on July 19, 2022, at 18:00.

On this date, at the location of the On Top Residency, by raising the NSK flag, a small plot of land will be declared an “independent territory” by IRWIN, a practice that follows the group’s previous artistic explorations into issues of the state, its institutions, and their symbols.

The IRWIN was founded in 1983 by artists Dušan Mandič, Miran Mohar, Andrej Savski, Roman Uranjek, and Borut Vogelnik. Moreover, IRWIN are also co-founders of the Neue Slowenische Kunst, a political art collective with works such as NSK State in Time, which explores and challenges the ideas of the sovereign state.

Per IRWIN, the NSK State “does not exist in space but in time,” and any place can become part of it “under certain circumstances and for a certain period of time.” Since NSK State is made up of all the activities of its citizens, and since its citizens are spread throughout the world, it can be rightfully claimed that “NSK is a global state.”

This is exemplified by IRWIN’s various projects such as NSK Embassy Moscow, NSK Passport, NSK Post Office, NSK Guard, including the NSK State Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale. “All these projects have their different conceptual backgrounds and realizations,” say IRWIN “but share one trait: they all take everyday institutions or objects as their points of reference and make them NSK institutions or objects.”

The same goes for this current collaboration with Fatmir Mustafa Karllo’s On Top Residency, which in itself mirrors some aspects of the state. It utilizes an unused public property on the outskirts of Prishtina, specifically a hill in Butoc, along Kavaja Street. The location is marked by white flour — that serves as a sort of a border — transforming the space into an “outdoor” gallery.

One of the reasons why Mustafa-Karllo chose this land for his art initiative is its picturesque location with a great view of Prishtina, especially during sunsets.

“Unfortunately,” says Mustafa-Karllo, “this also makes it a perfect location for the construction of potential luxury apartment buildings or high-end villas. Such a move would destroy and negate the very beautiful nature in the first place.”

“We should constantly work towards raising awareness against the commercialization of public space,” says Mustafa-Karllo. According to him, the construction of these buildings may be inevitable, and “it would cut access to these views and this nature for the majority of the people.” And so, the main purpose of On Top Residency is the “preservation, promotion, and use of public spaces and nature” through artistic and cultural activities.

Appropriating in the name of art turns out to have some benefits for the community. “As per my initial concept,” says Mustafa-Karllo, “this open space would continue functioning as an open gallery, where in the future, various artists with site-specific projects would be invited to create and exhibit works that are related to the On Top Residency’s project.”

The way how IRWIN appropriate existing objects and institutions is similar to the concept of the readymade and could, in effect, be applied to an unlimited number of instances. However, IRWIN are very careful and practice a rigorous selection process — just as is recommended with designating new readymades. “[We decide] on NSK projects only after careful deliberation and not too frequently,” say IRWIN, thus affirming that the ‘NSK Territory Prishtina’ undoubtedly belongs with the series of all other NSK projects.

The NSK flag used in this project has been used since the beginning of the NSK State in Time project back in 1992. But, at the core of this project “is not the NSK flag,” say IRWIN, “but the use of this flag to temporarily incorporate part of Kosovo into the NSK State.”

NSK may not yet have its own financial system, economy, or sports league, but IRWIN say that its citizens can “nonetheless claim that a plot of land on a hill close to Prishtina is, in addition to being in Kosovo, also a part of the NSK State.”

Territori i NSK-së në Prishtinë: Projekt i IRWIN në On Top Residency

Territori i NSK-së në Prishtinë
Projekt i IRWIN në On Top Residency

nga Artrit Bytyçi

Kolektivi slloven i artit IRWIN dhe Instituti Epifani nga Prishtina njoftojnë për projektin e tyre të përbashkët të titulluar ‘NSK Territory Prishtina’ (Territori i NSK-së në Prishtinë), në lokacionin e On Top Residency, që do të fillojë më 19 korrik 2022 në ora 18:00.

Më këtë datë, në lokacionin e On Top Residency, duke ngritur flamurin e NSK-së, një parcelë e vogël toke do të shpallet “shtet i pavarur” nga IRWIN, një praktikë e tyre kjo që vazhdon në traditën e eksplorimeve të mëparshme artistike të grupit mbi temat që kanë të bëjnë me shtetin, institucionet, dhe simbolet e tyre.

Grupi IRWIN është themeluar më 1983 nga artistët Dushan Mandiq, Miran Mohar, Andrej Savski, Roman Uranjek, and Borut Vogelnik. IRWIN gjithashtu janë bashkëthemelues të Neue Slowenische Kunst, një kolektiv i artit politik me vepra si ‘NSK State in Time’ (Shteti i NSK-së në Kohë), që shqyrton dhe sfidon idenë e asaj se çfarë do të thotë shtet sovran.

Sipas IRWIN, Shteti NSK “nuk ekziston në hapësirë, por në kohë” dhe çdo vend mund të bëhet pjesë e tij “në rrethana të caktuara dhe për një periudhë të caktuar kohore”. Meqenëse shteti i NSK-së përbëhet nga të gjitha aktivitetet e qytetarëve të tij, dhe duke qenë se qytetarët e tij janë të shpërndarë në të gjithë botën, me të drejtë mund të pretendohet se “NSK është një shtet global”.

Kjo ilustrohet nga projektet e ndryshme të IRWIN, si Ambasada e NSK-së në Moskë, Pasaporta e NSK-së, Zyra postare e NSK-së, Garda e NSK-së, e gjerë tek Pavijoni Shtetëror i NSK-së në Bienalen e Venecias 2017. “Të gjitha këto projekte kanë prejardhje dhe realizime të ndryshme konceptuale”, thonë IRWIN, “por ndajnë një tipar të përbashkët: çdonjëri prej projekteve merr institucione ose objekte të përditshme si pika referimi dhe i bën ato institucione ose objekte të NSK-së”.

E njëjta gjë vlen edhe për bashkëpunimin aktual të IRWIN me On Top Residency të Fatmir Mustafa Karllo-s, projekt qëi në vetvete pasqyron disa aspekte të shtetit. Projekti vë në përdorim një pronë publike të pashfrytëzuar në periferi të Prishtinës, konkretisht një kodër në Butoc, përgjatë rrugës së Kavajës. Vendi shenjëzohet nga mielli i bardhë—që shërben si një lloj kufiri—duke e shndërruar hapësirën në një galeri “të jashtme”.

Një nga arsyet pse Mustafa-Karllo zgjodhi këtë tokë për iniciativën e tij artistike është vendi piktoresk me një pamje të mrekullueshme të Prishtinës, veçanërisht gjatë perëndimit të diellit.

“Fatkeqësisht,” thotë Mustafa-Karllo, “kjo e bën atë gjithashtu një vend të ideal për ngritjen e ndërtesave të apartamenteve apo vilave luksoze. Një lëvizje e tillë do të shkatërronte dhe mohonte në radhë të parë natyrën shumë të bukur.”

“Duhet të punojmë vazhdimisht drejt vetëdijësimit kundër komercializimit të hapësirave publike”, thotë Mustafa-Karllo. Sipas tij, ndërtimi i këtyre ndërtesave mund të jetë i pashmangshëm dhe “do të kufizonte çasjen e shumicës së njerëzve në këto pamje dhe këtë natyrë”. Dhe kështu, qëllimi kryesor i projektit On Top Residency është “ruajtja, promovimi, dhe përdorimi i hapësirave publike dhe natyrës” përmes aktiviteteve artistike dhe kulturore.

Përvetësimi në emër të artit rezulton të ketë disa përfitime për komunitetin — edhe kjo një veçori tjetër që përbën konceptin e mjegullt të shtetit. “Sipas konceptit tim fillestar”, thotë Mustafa-Karllo, “kjo hapësirë e hapur do të vazhdojë të funksionojë si një galeri e hapur, ku në të ardhmen do të ftohen artistë të ndryshëm me projekte specifike për këtë hapsirë, për të krijuar dhe ekspozuar vepra që kanë të bëjnë me projektin e On Top Residency.”

Mënyra se si IRWIN përvetëson objektet dhe institucionet ekzistuese është e ngjashme me konceptin ‘readymade’ dhe, në fakt, mund t’u aplikohet rasteve të ndryshme. Megjithatë, IRWIN janë shumë të kujdesshëm dhe praktikojnë një proces rigoroz përzgjedhjeje — ashtu siç rekomandohet edhe në përzgjedhjen e gjësendeve të reja të gatshme (‘readymade’). “[Ne vendosim] për projektet e NSK-së vetëm pas shqyrtimit të kujdesshëm dhe atë jo shumë shpesh”, thonë IRWIN, duke pohuar kështu se ‘Territori i NSK-së në Prishtinë’ padyshim i përket serisë me të gjitha projektet tjera të NSK-së.

Flamuri i NSK-së është përdorur që nga fillimi i projektit ‘NSK State in Time’ (Shteti i NSK-së në kohë) në vitin 1992. Por, në thelb të këtij projekti të tanishëm “nuk është flamuri i NSK-së”, thonë IRWIN, “por përdorimi i këtij flamuri për të përfshirë përkohësisht një pjesë të Kosovës në shtetin e NSK-së”.

NSK-ja mund të mos ketë ende sistemin e saj financiar, ekonominë, apo ligën sportive, por “qytetarët” e saj “megjithatë, mund të pretendojnë se një parcelë toke në një kodër afër Prishtinës”, thonë IRWIN, “përveç që është në Kosovë, është gjithashtu pjesë e shtetit të NSK-së”.