"Artists..." rewards the landscape of the future
The Center for Contemporary Art "Stacion", which operates in what used to be the "Prishtina" boxing club, has given the final verdict on this year's artistic journey with "Tomorrow's Artists". There were a total of 11 artists qualified for the competition. On November 10, the exhibition of the three finalists was opened. Along with Begolli, Shkamb Jaka and Arbesa Musa also qualified. Begolli received this year's Prize with the work that elaborates technological interventions in the ecosystem
"Artists of Tomorrow" as an event is a reflection of the creativity of young artists. In essence, the motive is familiarity with the international scene. This is the reward for the first prize - a two-month artistic residency in New York. On Saturday night, Renea Begolli was chosen as the winner for the work "Skies extended". The technological position is primary in the work, setting no limits to how far it can go.
The Center for Contemporary Art "Stacion", which operates in what used to be the "Prishtina" boxing club, has given the final verdict on this year's artistic journey with "Tomorrow's Artists". There were a total of 11 artists qualified for the competition. On November 10, the exhibition of the three finalists was opened. Along with Begolli, Shkamb Jaka and Arbesa Musa also qualified.
At the ceremony of announcing the winner, the reasoning of the professional jury was also announced.
"The coherence of Renea's practice and the clear articulation of her motivations and ambitions, the better positioning of herself and her practice in the wider network and line of socio-political discourse in Kosovo raises sharp questions about the relationship between humanity and nature and alludes to the possibility of the body, another that can be unlocked," said the jury's statement in Albanian, English and Serbian.
The jury of this edition was composed of the German artist, Julieta Aranda, the Serbian artist, Miljana Dungjerin, Agrina Vllasaliu from Kosovo, who is also the winner of the "Artists of Tomorrow 2022" award, the Turkish curator and writer Alper Turan, as well as the artist Kosovar, Driton Selmani.
In the jury's reasoning for selection as a finalist, Begolli's work was praised as "pushing painting beyond the comfort of the canvas and using it to investigate the tensions between the human and more-than-human worlds that seem to be central to the practice of her".
Begolli's work looks very aesthetic, but also quite significant. The colorful painting clearly presents the beauties of the landscape. The sky is similar in appearance to the sunset, but there is more to it than that. They are the consequences of "cloud seeding" technology, a technology used in some countries to create clouds in order to cause precipitation. An unusual landscape that makes visible the invisible of the sky, the people below which are not aware of what it looks like.
It is also a proof of how far the human mind can go and the possibilities that technology brings. The realistic painting "Pink little clouds" with signs of intervention in the sky brings a kind of attempt to intervene even beyond it by "demonstrating" it by throwing color outside of it.
With art, Begolli enables "climbing" to the sky. The textile installation, through the blue woven material in the form of stairs, connects the earth with the sky in one form. The artist brings it down, but makes it seem practically unattainable for people. The entire artistic narrative in it is the one in the painting where the intervention is "facted" even there.
The author of the work said that the starting point of the work was a drop, while she described the installation as an extension of it.
"It is built from two elements: from the painting and from the textile installation. The idea of the work was originally built through the painting that was done earlier this year and is more about the landscapes of the future. Thinking of the painting specifically, because I wanted my work to be built starting from it", said the artist Renea Begolli about the work "Skies extended" with which she won this year's edition of the "Artists of Tomorrow" competition.
The artist said that it was the first time that she worked with textiles, considering it necessary to further explain the work through her art.
"The painting is more expressive, I combine materials while for the first time I used textiles to create a work. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time," said the 25-year-old artist.
She is a visual artist whose artistic work "explores intimacy, gender, memory, isolation, the body, spaces, ecological and social issues, expressed mainly through paintings, digital drawings, installations and video art", as written in her biography her.
In 2021, Begolli graduated in Painting at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Pristina and at Bournemouth University in London in Sociology and Social Anthropology. He currently works as a curatorial assistant for the Kiev Biennale in Vienna as part of the "Artist-in-Residence" program at "MuseumsQuartier". From 2020 to 2023, she worked at the Oral History Initiative as a researcher and archivist. In 2022, she also worked as program coordinator and co-curator for Kosovo in the Secondary Archive. As an artist, Renea was part of several group exhibitions and had a personal one this year titled "Pragu" at the "Qahili" gallery in Pristina.
The work raises questions about the sky of the future. How the clouds will be in the future.
“I started researching more about it and the idea of 'cloud seeding' which is a technology used in many countries around the world to stimulate clouds to produce rain. For me this has been something very interesting, which has provoked many of my ideas. It has created a lot of questions for me as an artist about how the skies will change in the future, how far the control of people in the skies will go", said Begolli, excluding any judgment about interference in the sky.
The work raises discussions about the phenomenon of "cloud seeding". The artist said that it is up to the public to appreciate it.
"It is not the idea of the work to say that this type of technology is good or bad, because more study is needed, but more the idea that people have these kinds of controls has been very contradictory for me and has inspired the part of stairs in the installation", said the artist Begolli further.
In June next year, she will travel to the United States of America in order to experience the dynamics of the New York art scene. For two months, it becomes part of the two-month residence "Residency Unlimited". After returning, they become part of the annual program of the "Station" with a personal exhibition. This is also the reward for the winner of "Artists of Tomorrow".
Begolli has said that the residency will help her think more deeply about her work and artistic ideas.
"I'm enthusiastic to see what's there, what kind of museums, what kind of galleries, to get to know more people and to see, because most of my experience as an artist has been inside Kosovo and I've been able to see a little inside Europe, New York is a completely different kind of dynamic. It will be something very new for me, but I am very excited to see. I think it will be an inspiration to take many different elements of life, culture, art there", she said further.
Vala Osmani and Albert Heta took care of the curatorial work.
Heta, director of the center for contemporary art "Stacion", has said that the quality of artistic works among artists of the new generation is increasing more and more.
"For us as an institution, not only now, but young artists have always had a greater workload, especially as soon as they finish their studies, it is still an additional space and motivation. More and more there is an increase in quality, although in many cases the influence of a certain expectation of the works also affects young artists. In other words, what are the topics they choose, the production is always better, but on the other hand there is a lot of space for investment", Heta assessed while saying that "Stacion" has a mission to develop independent artistic practice and civil society.
According to him, the initial idea of the Czech Vaslav Havel to penetrate the art abroad and the opinion that the art there was isolated remains even in the country with the non-liberalization of visas. For this purpose, the reward is the stay in the artistic residence for two months in New York. Heta said that since "Stacion" has been organizing it, they have always tried to increase the reputation of the event.
"Since that time, 'Stacion' has tried to increase the impact of the award, the jury, to always be credible, the award to be a stimulus for young artists. From the beginning, the production of new works can be supported, which in some periods has been very difficult. The cultural findings were less," he said.
With Begolli, the artists Shkamb Jaka and Arbesa Musa were in the final. Jaka competed with his visual and sound installation that connects his artificial island with planet Earth. The artist Musa has addressed the issue of national identity through a brick installation. He also covered the 90s, bringing footage from 1996.
The member of the judging jury of the "Artists of Tomorrow" competition, artist Driton Selmani, said that the evaluation was not easy because of the competition and because he belongs to the same artistic scene as the contestants.
"For me, both last year and this year was a very important experience, because I learned some phenomena that I probably didn't know myself as an artist. I belong to a generation of artists who have won very few awards, but it doesn't mean that awards are everything in the end, especially since the boxing club tonight presents a very well-curated, compact exhibition with a lot of potential" , said the artist Selmani, who was also a member of the jury in the previous edition of the event.
He said that he is critical of local artists because, according to him, they don't work enough. According to him, the opposite is likely with the artists in this competition. He considered that closer work is needed with state and private institutions and between artists. He also appreciated the work of the winning artist.
"I think that Renea is in an experimental phase. She comes from a painting background which is a bit more traditional art, but always with a tendency to add something that speaks to her problems, concerns, but also the contemporary she is living with. The contemporary is an emergency, both ecological and political, it is trying to incorporate them. I think that New York will serve her a lot, even more so in a period when she is at a moment in her career when she also needs a catapult", said the artist and lecturer Selmani about Begolli's work.
The jury at the ceremony appreciated the works of artists Jaka and Musa and encouraged them to continue strongly towards their work as artists.
"The jury was impressed by the way the finalists discussed their ideas and the process of bringing them to the exhibition space, as well as the sensitivity with which they considered the architecture of the Boxing Club for the presentation of their projects. For the production and installation of their works, the three artists collaborated with the curatorial team and the production team of Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina", said the jury on Saturday night at the former boxing club "Prishtina".
Their work has been recognized as presenting a unique vision and approach to the exhibition. It opened on November 10.
The artist Shkamb Jaka with his work that formed a kind of island outside the world took him beyond reality. But it was connected to it through some extensions that resembled the symbol for staying connected to technology. An abstract audio-installation was also attached to the work.
The other finalist of the competition, Arbesa Musa, who operates between Switzerland and Kosovo, based her art on issues of identity. Its brickwork held what resembled boundary lines until the building itself had given the shape of a ship as a symbol of travel. There were also films from the 90s that showed the everyday life of that time. It was a kind of connection with the birthplace.
The "Artists of Tomorrow" award is part of the award program for young visual artists - YVAA (Young Visual Artists Awards) - which is a network of ten similar awards from Central and Eastern Europe, and which was founded in 1989 in Czechoslovakia by President Vaclav Havel, Wendy Luers and dissident artists, which aimed to support the rise and development of contemporary art and civil society.
Until 2014, "Tomorrow's Artists" was organized by the National Gallery of Kosovo. That year the decision was made to organize it every two years. But from 2016, the award passed to the competence of the center for contemporary art "Stacion" and remained an annual event.
The exhibition will remain open until December 9 at the "Station" contemporary art center in the capital.
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