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The Politics of Belonging: Art Geographies

Project leader:
Jelena Petrovic (IKW)

4 years

Funded by:
FWF – Austrian Science Fund | Elise-Richter Programme (V730)

FWF | Elise-Richter-Fellow
Jelena Petrovic, Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies
Duration: 1.2.2019 – 31.1.2023

The project focuses on the (post)Yugoslav space as a paradigmatic case of exhausted geography, which will be explored through artistic practices, curatorial projects, and art-theoretical research referring to the notion of Yugoslavia before and after its dissolution. This still undefined and complex geopolitical zone, consisting of new national post-war states (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia), functions as a zone of discomfort, as a differential or counter-public space where theoretical, artistic, activist, as well as curatorial practices occur and simultaneously produce both dislocation and new locations, while being given different geopolitical names such as South-Eastern Europe, the Balkans or Former/Post/Ex-Yugoslavia.

Tracing the relation between today’s art and contemporary art (as a historical category), the (post)Yugoslav space and epistemology, the project questions ways of producing, situating, and institutionalizing the public knowledge that this relation triggers. The process-orientated output of the project is the living archive (an epistemological archive or interarchive) consisting of art-based practices, theories, and research dealing with the problem of geographical belonging. The living archive is developed as a normative process of dialectical analysis of conflicted ideas which concern the exhausted geopolitical zone of the (post)Yugoslav space, researching both the geopolitics of art and art’s geographies. Using living archive as a (counter-)space, the project looks for political subjectivation ( the politics of belonging ) rather than for (geo)political identification ( the politics of identity ) of this still undomesticated knowledge.

Accordingly, the project interconnects theoretical insights with art and curatorial practices, especially those which introduce geography into the sphere of political thinking and social life. Through performative voices, visual inscriptions, and the aesthetic glitches of emerging artworks that produce the politics of affect and politics of error , the project further develops an experimental methodology for exploring new art or a differential one. Dealing with the impossibility to break through the contemporary art systems and their exhausted geographies, the politics of error appears as a symptom of the living art contemporaneity, in particular when it comes to the question of (post)ideological participatory or collective practices. Introducing error as a new turn or, more precisely, counter-turn, the project thus opens space for a new epistemology that deals with both: the geopolitics of art and art geographies.