„Ecstatic Bodies: Archive of Performative Queer Bodies in Macedonia“
– Exhibition –
Curators: Slavcho Dimitrov and Biljana Tanurovska-Kjulavkovski
As part of the program of 30 years of the Republic of North Macedonia in the United Nations and 30 years of the OSCE-UN framework agreement, 03 – 05 May 2023
with (selection on the occasion of this presentation): Nora Stojanovic | Milosh Kodzoman and Dragoljub Bezan| Hristina Ivanoska | Velimir Zernovski |Yane Chalovski | Natasha Geleva | STEAM ROOM | Mirko Popov | Zoran Ristevski-Bajbe | Ivana Dragsic | Sonja Ismail | FRIK Festival | First Born Girl | Skopje Pride Weekend|
Organizers: Coalition MARGINS Skopje, LGBTI Support Center, and Lokomotiva – Centre for New Initiative in Arts and Culture
Production team: Emilija Chochkova and Ljubomir Faizov
Supported by: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of North Macedonia
The exhibition is curated selection of a wider joint research and curatorial project of Slavcho Dimitrov and Biljana Tanurovska-Kulavkovski. The research and exhibition focus on various performing, dancing and curatorial practices, ie performative aspects in the field of art and beyond, in North Macedonia. These practices stage what we call the “other body”, whose otherness is set in relation to institutionalized artistic frameworks, normative and hegemonic (bio) political apparatuses (Foucault) and the “distribution of the sensible” (Ranciere), and, in particular, the sexual and gender regimes of body politics. This archive of contemporary queer / feminist performances in Macedonia will cover the period from the last 4 decades, more precisely from the 70s of the 20th century until today. It explores and incorporates: a variety of art performance practices, which we approach as feminist performances and practices within the visual and performing arts, queer performances, everyday queer and club choreographies in the 1990s and today, the beginnings of gender studies and theory, political performance, the festival for queer arts, culture and theory Skopje Weekend of Pride, as well as other festivals and practices that we research and read in the field of the set problem and topic.
The exhibition does not aim to present a history of the visual, performing and discursive representations of sexual and gender minorities in Northern Macedonia, nor to frame the queer performative in terms of identity. That is why the queer performative and the queer performative body are placed in a broader context of performance practices that mobilize the dual agency embedded in performance. Focusing on the performative practices that critically activate the contingency and instability of the performance of identities and bodily boundaries, in this exhibition the interest is set on performances that are archived as a queer because: 1. they demystify social norms, normalcy, and the bourgeois morality of the Western masculine rational subject as historical effects of compulsory performances and exclusionary practices; 2. they approach gender as a problem instead of as an assumption and a metaphysical substance; 3. they see in sexuality the possibility of antagonistic re-performance of biopolitical scenarios and redefinition of identity categories, and not a universal natural category on the basis of which social bodies and lives are hierarchized; and 4. they approach the body as an open, dynamic, ecstatic and relational materiality, whose boundaries, surface and layers are subject to constant negotiation and rearticulation, and not a closed transhistorical system and destiny.
Finally, the exhibition is also interested in the performative queer body and the performative as a political performance and collective public staging of bodies that resist, revolt, and show solidarity, while mobilizing their vulnerability.
The traces of these bodies sometimes exist as ephemeras, as flashes, as shadows, or as faded lines of movement, as poorly and amateurish documentary photographs, as glitched videos, as poorly printed posters, as letters – notes on one-time and censored performances, and socializing; or embodied remembrance of sounds, touches, atmospheres, and sweaty bodies. Sometimes as (self) conscious and professional photo or video documentation of an artistic performance in its singularand transient performing, or as a collective cultural production of the queer community. Or as visual works of art preserved from museums, galleries or private art studios, which carry the history of creating performative effects in public spaces by opening the possibility of living, feeling and desiring differently, and of the prefiguration of other worlds.
But in all these forms or barely – forms of existence, the performative queer bodies, their traces and marks, that are part of this exhibition, while opening towards the future (which as uncertainty, utopian desire and risk is at the heart of every performative, smiling with the promise of success or the threat of failure), they blow up the prisonhouse of the present, and seduce us to ecstatic self-forgetfulness and striving for transformation.