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PRESENTATION at the KICK-OFF meeting for the SUPERCAMP project

(Vienna, February 2006)


Maska is a nonprofit nongovernmental organization for publishing, production of performances, interdisciplinary and visual art works, education and research. Maska's theoretical, critical and artistic activities include contemporary art and theory, research, experimental performing practices, interdisciplinary art and critical theory. It is organized in three sections: Maska Publications, Maska Productions and Maska Symposium.
Maska Publications performing arts magazine Maska, and book series TRANSformacije and Mediakcije are the foundations of Maska publishing program. The field of reflection is comprised of the broadest area of contemporary performing arts, from theatre, contemporary dance and new ballet to performance, multimedia and new-media art.

Maska Symposium's basic project is the Seminar of Contemporary Performing Arts. Seminar is an all year program with lectures, workshops and seminars by Slovenian and internationally acclaimed scholars, artists and writers. Other activities include organizing lectures, workshops, conferences on theory and contemporary art (like Fiction Reconstructed, Biotechnology, Philosophy, Post-dramatic Condition and so on…) as well as public debates on cultural politics.

Maska Productions produces performances and other artistic events by innovative, exploring artists as well as first projects of the youngest generation. Maska's multimedia arts program focuses on socially critical performances, video, installations and multi-disciplinary urban interventions. We are producing and developing projects, which reflect in a critical manner current problems in contemporary societies.

In the frame of the SUPERCAMP project Maska is the organizer of the March 2007 event, where the main topic will be architecture and morphology. The theme will be explored mainly through exhibitions of various artists, exhibiting their work, which deal with the questions of architectural morphology, space and form in architecture, environmental design, form and environmental cognition, townscape planning, spatial and landscape simulation, and so on.

Furthermore, among the new media and visual artworks that Maska produces, there are the two projects, which are ongoing and we would like to develop further in the frame of the SUPERCAMP project - namely (FWC) First World Camp by Emil Hrvatin and Peter Šenk and the Zone by Brane Zorman and Irena Pivka.

The objective of the FIRST WORLD CAMP project is artistic research, focusing on refugee camps, military bases, gated communities and other modes of capsularity, trying to expose well-known facts from a different angle. For example, that there never has been a refugee camp in the post World War II history, which would have been created in advance or that was planned before the extreme situation happened. However, several refugee camps that have been created after WWII still exist, the most obvious example being Palestine.

Military base does not communicate by any means with environment and it has its own regulation. Together with churches and embassies it is a forerunner to the foreign sovereignty on the territory of another country. While most of other capsules are bringing the outside world inside, military bases are training camps for taking outside what is rehearsed inside. Military base is a rehearsal space for the war theatre.

So artistic freedom has a particular legal status related to the broader aspect of freedom of expression. In the conditions of shrinking of public space and privatization of traditional spaces of freedom (media...), cultural organizations and institutions are becoming isolated capsules of public debate and public confrontation. The question here is whether art is becoming an institutionalized (subsidized, sponsored, granted ...) capsule of freedom of speech and expression?

In a society in which mobility is praised as a feature of freedom, a mobile device is becoming an enclosed unit containing comfort, communication and protection infrastructure, in other words a manifestation of an object, which is "more than" what it is! The luxurious cruising ships are floating cities where a dweller is offered a total living environment in which economical conditions are the basic criteria of inclusion/exclusion. And also freedom is much more related to the possibility of being away, in conditions regulated by oneself. The more one can pay, the more freedom one can enjoy!

Capsularity in tourism is a process of creating total environments in which tourists perform the role of directed consumers. Tourism is based on voluntary temporary secession from the usual legal status of its consumers. Between two extremes of exclusion (luxury hotels and private islands) there is a range of tourism industry based on "all inclusive" philosophy - transportation of a tourist into a fantasy land of unusual setting, event, program and behavior enclosed in a total environment of a tourist resort.

Churches and other sacral objects can also be considered the oldest still existing entities functioning according to the principles of a camp. They are ex-territorialized sites with their own regulation, separated from the state and its regulation. The church is also related to the land - Catholic Church is one of the biggest landowners in Europe. The land of the church is open and its function is public, but the program is exclusive. History informs us that in extreme situations church encapsulates itself.

The latest subproject of the FWC project Maska did in November 2006 in Ljubljana is [CC] Centre ~ City. The aim was to reflect the tension and relations between a city centre ("centre") and a shopping suburb, like ("BTC city"). In Ljubljana we examined a variety of programs, accessibility, isolation and limitations… And while Ljubljana's city centre is changing into a fractal conglomerate of small capsules with an increasing number of differentiated types of limiting access to semi-public and public spaces, we on the other hand have the shopping area BTC ("city") developing new types of urbanity, conceived exclusively with a purpose to motivate visitors for immediate consumption.

BTC shopping mall complex, a depot and logistics space of 60s and 70s, is today one of the largest European shopping-business-entertainment centres with an ambition to become a city in every respect. BTC is today a place where one can do the shopping, do business, go in for sports or relaxation, have fun, lunch or a meeting…What is the next step?

With hotels or apartments you wouldn't need to leave the shopping mall. Shopping mall is privately owned space with public function. It is a non-place (Auge) developing and redeveloping itself into a capsule based on inclusion. As Jon Jerde wrote on University City Walk he designed: "The only things kept out of this simulation are real poverty, crime and unplanned spontaneity." Wonderland  is a project of the postgraduate program Master of Advanced Architecture at the IaaC institute from Barcelona in collaboration with Sadar Vuga architerctural Buro from Ljubljana.

Urbi et suburbi
The photos of the fences compare characteristics and levels of (in)accessibility in the Center and City, and show an increasing trend of the reduction of public spaces in both areas. Monoprogramatic dimension of the City (consumption - shopping, leisure, entertainment...) makes the area accessible, but only for a very limited ways of behavior. So while the City is completely controlled and regulated by private surveillance company, the Center is passing through the process of fragmentation. Power and representative institutions are visual fortresses communicating unwelcomness and private dwellings are becoming inaccessible areas...

The Project Refugee Camp for the First World Citizens is based on hypothetical and ethical premises - political, social, military, security, natural catastrophy and so on, in which the citizens of highly developed countries (mainly from the West) would be forced to leave their country and look for a temporary home in another country.

Now I would like to show you an 80 seconds movie, summing the First World Citizens Camp.

ZONE project by Irena Pivka and Brane Zorman is a name for a series of consecutive subprojects, which the two authors are developing for several years now as different territories of inequality and control, which continuously emerge as consequences of an ever more acute problem of breaking down old and building new barriers and borders around and inside fortress Europe.
NATIONAL BORDER OR THE BRIDGE OF FRIENDSHIP documents the story of an individual who stepped outside of his assigned place of residence - the territorial area. In his new environment, he is taking on the position of a foreigner, a migrant or a cosmopolitan. In addition, the projects explore the often fanatical relationship towards marking the borders of one's own territory. All photographs of borders and border-crossings used for the project have been taken in the areas where any photographing or filming is strictly forbidden.

Zone projects question the status of public and artistic spaces by transforming them into temporary zones of political and social confrontations. The authors aim to develop analytically critical approach with regards to a number of current social and political issues, which aren't usually dealt with in the context of a artistic projects: like migrations, border-crossing, movement control, the phenomenon of the borders, and re-opening and re-forming physical and mental barriers. By confronting various aspects they emphasize personal and collective experiences, stories from (illegal) migrants or their drivers during their journey, as well as confrontations between the natives and the foreigners, and police as representatives of the authority and power at a particular territory. Each of the Zone projects is complemented with video-visual elements and sound, which is being presented to the public on specific public locations, which means locations that bear a special meaning, like a cargo container featuring as a gallery in the center of Ljubljana, or a "tourist" bus driving on the route where it is known illegal immigrants either transfer Slovenia or arrive to the country to stay.

Zone TOURISM is an hour-long journey, a drive with a tourist bus equipped to function as a multimedia gallery. Guests are treated as a group of tourists on a package tour. Throughout the journey they are offered refreshments and shown a documentary video, which portrays illegal migration organizers, drivers and guides of illegal migrants whose stories expose the phenomenon of illegal border crossings and the relationships, which develop in such situations (local citizens vs. foreigners, media responses, state institutions and their statements, etc.). The fundamental idea of the project Zone TOURISM is to raise people's awareness and sensibility to the controversial situation where one asks whether organized illegal people trafficking is an internationally organized crime or a humanitarian organization.

ZONE C SOUTH ENTRANCE project together with TERRITORY STEALING video is the upgraded version of ZONE C and focuses on the geopolitical situation, which occurred with the expansion of the European Union. Alongside the euphoric tearing down of the north-western borders of the new member states, there is a new Schengen border forming in the more south-eastern part of Europe. TERRITORY STEALING video was first presented in Mostovna gallery, just a few metres away from the territory where, with the opening of a joint town square, the border between old and new town of Gorica was 'abolished' on May 1.

The project ZONE C explores migration processes through various aspects. It follows an individual who has left his/her domestic ground, friends, culture - the homeland territory - behind. The project focuses on the phenomenon of the border as a geo-political crossing line, which acts as a membrane, as a two-directional filter. It appears as a border defining the power of one territory against the other, affecting the immigrant's position according to the laws imposed by the state on either side. It is a game with different rules for different people.

cona-C-6_maska - 256398.2
cona-C-3_maska - 256392.2

The audio-visual situation called ZONE B documented portraits of individuals - people who reside in a common space that some own but others don't, depending on which side of the geopolitical divide they're on: there are natives and there are foreigners. What stands between them is the dynamics of confrontation, the power and helplessness of dialog, the decision to accept or refuse.