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How do institutions operate within systems of oppression, in conflicts, crisis or war?

Photo: Vanja Babić

iLiana Fokianaki, How do institutions operate within systems of oppression, in conflicts, crisis or war?
15.11.2023, 19:00h
Youth Culture Centre Ribnjak (Big Dance Hall, 1st. floor) Park Ribnjak 1, Zagreb

Organised by WHW

WHW is hosting in Zagreb curator and writer iLiana Fokianaki with a program that combines screening and a talk on her project Survival Kit 13.
Photo: Vanja Babić

iLiana Fokianaki was discussing institutional neutrality, positionality, and its relation to geopolitics in times of crisis by addressing her work as artistic director of Survival Kit 13, The Little Bird Must be Caught and giving examples of exhibitions such as Forms of Freedom in Galerija Nova and at State of Concept Athens in 2019.

The 13th installment of Latvia’s annual contemporary art festival, Survival Kit, in 2022 was curated by iLiana Fokianaki and drew inspiration from the cultural impact of the Russian occupation of Latvia. The exhibition, titled The Little Bird Must Be Caught, borrows the title from a poem by the renowned Latvian poet Ojārs Vācietis (1933-1983). Vācietis was not only celebrated for his literary prowess but also for his courage in addressing the political circumstances of his era.

The concept for the exhibition was initially conceived in October 2021. However, it gained a renewed sense of urgency in response to the brutal war launched against the Ukrainian people by what Fokianaki referred to as the “narcissistic authoritarian statism” of Putin’s rule. The Little Bird Must Be Caught delved into the historical significance of sound, music, voice, and utterance in shaping and characterizing moments of emancipation throughout human history. It explored their roles in actions against repression and authoritarianism, their connection to freedom of speech, the power of the voice, and their contribution to resistance, revolution, and self-determination. The artworks included in the exhibition engaged in discussions, considerations, and reflections on the role of art in both historical and contemporary contexts of self-determination and resistance. Special emphasis was placed on music and sound as peaceful forms of protest, declarative gestures, and collective performativity.

These inquiries sought to establish connections with the aftermath of the global pandemic. The pandemic had altered our acoustic landscapes, highlighting the significance of sound when the world came to a standstill, ushering in an unsettling silence. At the same time, it became evident that even during the times of health crises, injustices could not be silenced. This was exemplified by the global Black Lives Matter movement, which filled the streets, ears, and minds with slogans advocating for freedom, equality, and social justice. Additionally, it was manifest in the resurgence of the environmental movement, encouraging us to listen beyond a human-centric perspective of the world. The recent solidarity marches further underscored the idea that injustice could not be suppressed.

iLiana Fokianaki is a curator, theorist and educator. Her research focuses on formations of power and how they manifest under the influence of geopolitics, national identity and cultural and anthropological histories. iLiana Fokianaki has a compelling record of group and solo exhibitions and research projects in institutions worldwide. The founder and director of State of Concept Athens since 2013, she has changed the landscape of the Athenian art scene, bringing to the capital of Greece exhibitions of artists such as Forensic Architecture, Kader Attia, Kapwani Kiwanga, Basim Magdy, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Laure Prouvost, Sanja Iveković, Uriel Orlow, Anton Vidokle. She is the founder of research platform ‘The Bureau of Care’ that has been foregrounding conversations around the politics and ethics of care since 2020. She has curated exhibitions for international institutions such Reina Sofia Museum Madrid, e-flux New York, La Colonie Paris, KADIST Paris, Kunstinstituut Melly Rotterdam, Museum of Contemporary Art Ljubljana and has curated public programs for Vera List Center for Art and Politics, Het Nieuwe Instituut a.o. Fokianaki has been lecturing at the Dutch Art Institute and academies, independent spaces, museums, and foundations worldwide. She publishes regularly in journals such as e-flux and Frieze among others, and has participated in several publications. Her books Gossips: WomXn Gather and The Bureau of Care will be published in 2024 with Archive Books.

WHW realizes this activity as part of the two-year collaborative project Care ecologies, implemented with partners G&A Mamidakis FoundationState of Concept Athens and Idensitat.

The event is part of the program Nova u Centru financed by a special public call Culture and art in the Community of the City of Zagreb and also an integral part of the program implemented by Communities of Learning, a platform consisting of six organizations: What, How and for Whom (WHW) and Živi Atelje DK (Zagreb),, (Novi Sad), Neue Nachbarschaft / Moabit e.V. (Berlin), State of Concept Athens, and Crvena Association for Culture and Art (Sarajevo), dedicated to the exchange of independent and contemporary artistic programs that emphasize informal artistic education.

The screening is a part of the program Artistic ecologies, strategies of Resistance and degrowth financed by HAVC – Croatian Audiovisual Centre and the City Office for Culture and Civil Society of the City of Zagreb.

Program is supported by:
City Office for Culture and Civil Society
Creative Europe Programme of the European Union
Croatian Audiovisual Centre-HAVC
Foundation for Arts Initiatives
Kultura Nova Foundation
Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia
WHW is hosting in Zagreb curator and writer iLiana Fokianaki with a program that combines screening and a talk on her project Survival Kit 13.