The following texts describe, in a short and concise manner, the nature of the projects and works included in the exhibition. Some of the texts have been authored by the curator, as a form of personal reflection on the exhibitied works, while others are written by the authors of the projects, sometimes including a ‘short introduction’ by the curator. The texts contextualise the works within the overall concept of the exhibition, as well as within the broader context of the city research, while introducing the subject matter (and the city of Skopje) to a wider audience.
In addition, some of the texts reflect the nature of the conversations that have evolved between the curator and the authors as part of the process of preparing the exhibition. They reflect the fact that some of the projects/works were effectively ‘commissioned’ for the exhibition, and are indicative of the potential for the projects to grow and develop further, perhaps leading towards another exhibition or publication. Once again, we thank the many contributors for entrusting us with their various works, projects and their related texts; we look forward to potential further collaborations.
From the Eremeev Family Archive
Viktorija Eremeeva, Maksim Naumovski
(Mihail Fjodorovich Eremeev and Boris Mihajlovich Eremeev)
Through images from the Eremeev family archive. the city of Skopje is seen from afar, with aerial views from a distant past. In addition to these images from the early 1920’s, another series of photographs of street views, document the appearance of some of the first modernist buildings, combined with the historic urban grain of the older city. Some of these buildings are still in existence, while others were lost in the earthquake (such as Sotir Tomovski’s women’s gymnasium, etc). Large areas of empty urban spaces in the photographs are a testimony of a city in transition between different socio-political and urban conditions. The accompanying selection of images of architectural models of new urban plans for an expanding city, and the annotated blueprints of various survey drawings, complete the picture of another Skopje. A city from another time, a pre-war and pre-earthquake Skopje.
The exhibition includes the original diary and various notebooks belonging to Mihail Fjodorovich Eremeev, which describe the author’s arrival in Skopje, as an officer of the Tsarist Russia guard, who was unable to return to Russia. The diary contains both initial impressions and specific observations about various parts of the city as he makes it his new home. The notebooks include a series of detailed observations and survey drawings of city fragments and built structures at various scales, demonstrating the author’s ability to observe the city from different points of view – viewing it both from afar as well as from up close.
The aerial views, street photographs, and documentation of models and city surveys which were made by Mihail Fjodorovich Eremeev and his son, Boris Mihajlovich Eremeev, belong to the family Eremeev as part of their valuable family archive. They testify to the dedication of Viktoria Eremeeva and Maksim Naumovski’s ancestors to mapping and planning the city, and the accompanying text reflects the ongoing tradition and dedication within the family to urbanism and the notion of the architect’s ‘duty of care’ for the city.
Viktoria Eremeeva and Maksim Naumovski contributed this rare material (as a loan) to my Skopje Open Archive project last year. I am grateful for the trust they have shown me and am pleased that we were able to provide the context for a selection of this material from their family archive, to be shown for the first time to the wider public. (D.S.)
a Public Space and a Building FOLDED into a Single spatial Continuum
Theme: the relationship between a public building and the open public space in which it is located; interpolation in the urban space with a clear, high-quality spatial boundary. The architectural language of the context is characterized by a high degree of lyrical abstraction and harmonization; by analogy of contrast, the proposed building is charachterised by a dynamic figurative quality and a narrative sense of materiality.
Subject: Macedonia Square and the Lumix shopping facility in Skopje.
Aim: the integration of both these spatial identities within a new, single continuum.
Operational Procedure: dynamic centering, wrapping, folding a single interactive surface, a face consisting of various elements or programs, that in the process of layering and differentiation, creates a unity of various non-linear spatial planes and interior horizons. In a typological sense, the building – by turning itself into a public space, an open amphitheater – recontextualizes the city square and turns it into a stage. (M.H-P.)
Gulevski has often said: You can’t model a building you don’t love’. The series of ‘model drawings’ and unfolded models of several iconic modernist buildings in Skopje, developed by Prof. Guleski, reflect the architect’s passion for model making, which started in his early childhood. As a child, he attended various model-making workshops in the ‘Modelling Club’, situated in the ground floor of a fine modernist building (by the architect Vapa) located opposite the Josip Broz Tito High School (another fine modernist building, by architect Ladevska and others). Prof. Guleski has continued nurturing his interest in making models, instructing his students at the architecture schools in Skopje (UKIM and UACS), or through his own projects, but also as an independent activity and passion, through which he has been analyzing and documenting a selection of buildings.
The six exhibited models represent two public cultural buildings, the Museum of Comteporary Art, MSU (Collective of Polish architect ‘The Tigers’); the Artists Pavillion (by Sekerinski – no longer in existence); and four housing buildings by L.Kubes, three of which are a variation on a theme (two on the street Orce Nikolov, and one near the Josip Broz High School). Like the independent study ‘A Street in Skopje’ from 1989 (in collaboration with Goce Adzi-Mitrevski, Domnika Boskova, and Dimitar Golubovski), Gulevski engages in research activities which are not part of a specific commission, but are a reflection of his passion for architecture. The drawings and models exhibited here area a valuable documentation of a specific period of the architectural heritage of Skopje. (D.S.)
Four Doors and a Wall: Alberti in My House
Vlatko P. Korobar
Starting from the largely misinterpreted quote by Alberti that “the city is like a great house and the house, in its turn, is like a small city” the project delves on the fruitful discourse it provoked of the similarities and the differences, the unique and the common in architectural and urban space. The notions of “the great house” and “the small city” have managed to continually provoke new readings of the ever-increasing complexity of the house and the city, the private and the public, the individual and the social. Even more importantly, they have managed to continually reinvigorate the debate on issues of scale, spatial levels and their obvious continuity, but at the same time also their interruptions; their connections and their differences, searching for deeper relations beyond the mere physical differences.
Taking the risk of joining the thousands of superficial readers of Alberti, this project finds him within the author’s house in Skopje, built in the 1950’s. Indeed, it refers to similar concepts at different spatial levels. Despite the changes that have taken place through the decades, there is a constant key feature that, in a way, presents the essence of the house: four doors and a wall. The corridor between the ‘private’ and the ‘public’ section of the house has been removed and replaced by two alternative routes: one of them leading through the representative ‘room for guests’ and the other through the ‘dwelling kitchen’. How does this spatial sequence relate this “small city” to the “great house”? Simply by introducing concepts which are relevant at the urban scale, but are productive at the level of a dwelling. It is an established fact that cities offer choices. They offer alternative routes. So do the four doors and the wall, proving that certain concepts can work at different spatial levels. (V.P.K.)
When the City Blossoms
Violeta Bakalcev, Minas Bakalcev
‘When the City Blossoms’ is a documentation of various types of self-growing vegetation in the city. During our walks, between January and May 2015, on the left bank of the river Vardar, we noticed a bewildering transformation. What initially appeared to us as abandoned, forgotten and ruined places – resulting from various unfinished construction phases, and the conflicting layering of contrasts – suddenly started blossoming with new life. A variety of plants, with various intensities and colours, gave new meaning to the incomplete, dilapidated and fragmented parts of the river bank…( )…Precisely from those left-over, abandoned, forgotten, in-between places; from the cracks, the ruined themes, the voids and gaps, and from the damaged surfaces of the city, we noticed an unusual, intense growth.’ (V.B / M.B)
This new work by Violeta and Minas Bakalchev, is a series of photographic observations, taken (while walking their dog) along the construction-laden left bank of the river Vardar in the immediate vicinity of their home (in one of the housing towers by architect Serafimovski, within the GTC centre). Amidst their everyday surroundings, the two architects discover another dimension, almost another world.The sudden appearance of a vast quantity of varied, vividly colored greenery – a virtual ‘herbarium’ of self-growing plants emerging ‘almost miraculously’ from the gaps and cracks between the concrete surfaces amidst the ruinous and fragmented city – was interpreted as a clear sign of hope and regeneration. Not unlike the ever-present water in Tarkovsky’s films, this strange and unexpected phenomenon was taken as a ‘sign’ confirming the possibility that one fine day, ‘the city will once again be blossoming’. This work, although exhibited in a different gallery space at SIA, accompanies and complements Prof. Minas’ reflections on ‘Living with GTC’, as shown through his ‘11 Thesis for GTC’, a piece developed from the book ‘111 Tezi za GTC’, edited by F.Jovanovski and I.Vaseva. (D.S.)
Sea of Ice
This project is the result of an investigation, and the related correspondence, undertaken by Zoran Petrovski (curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje), with Vangel Bozinovski (one of the key architects and supporters of the ‘2014’ building project in Skopje) and the Slovenian architect Bogdan Splindler who, together with architects Stefan Kacin, Jurij Princes, and Marjan Urshic of BIRO 71, was author of the competition-winning design of MOB, the Macedonian Opera and Ballet in Skopje. Completed in 1979, the MOB building was one of the key modernist architectural artifacts of the post-earthquake regeneration of Skopje. Zoran Petrovski’s introductory text, which functions as an integral part of the work, sets out the background for his investigation, the manner in which he came across the critical review of MOB by the architect Vangel Bozinovski, and its influence on Petrovski’s own views of the MOB building. Petrovski’s text includes a personal account of his changing views and experience of the building itself, and the current state of the MOB building amidst the new constructions along the river banks, which has entirely altered the context and original reading /meaning of the Macedonian Opera and Ballet building in Skopje. (D.S.)
Like many of my fellow citizens, my attitude towards the building of the Macedonian Opera and Ballet, has long been quite ambivalent, without a clearly established opinion about the architectural values of this building. I was not amongst those who, with vigor and mockery, immediately discarded this unusual figure; nor was I able to stand firmly grounded in its defense, with well-prepared points of view.
On the other hand, my physical experience of the building and the ambiance of MOB (the Macedonian Opera and Ballet, Skopje), never leaves me indifferent. The building’s vast plateaux – which was a regular place of pause along my daily walking route to or from the Museum of Contemporary Art – rarely left me indifferent to the experience of witnessing on sunny days, the sparkling, almost blinding light that seemed to expand and virtually dematerialize the space around it, together with the surrounding buildings. Likewise, I have enjoyed every opportunity, whenever I was inside the building, to allow myself to be guided by the seductive lines of its broken geometry, with its everchanging scenery of forms and shadows.
A review of the building written by architect Vangel Bozinovski, which I by chance obtained in 2002, and in which he refers to Kasper David Friedrich’s famous painting ‘Sea of Ice’ (1824) as a historical reference and as a direct inspiration in the creation of the project, opened an interesting and entirely new dimension to my gradual discovery and experience of the architectural qualities of MOB. The visual comparison of the silhouette and formal configuration of the plateaux around MOB, with the dramatic collision of icebergs in Kasper David Friedrich’s painting, unequivocally affirmed that analogy.
Bozinovski’s review was written in opposition to the initiative, in 2000, to demolish the MOB building – apparently because of the challenging task of its technical maintenance, but actually because of the general resistance to its architecture. Fifteen years later, although the MOB building remains in the same place, its main architectural features and qualities have been devastated. Cut off from the river, surrounded and trapped by an absurd conglomeration of unbearably pompous buildings, today the building of MOB resembles nothing more than an archaeological relic of a particular idea. Both symbolically and in reality, the building has suffered the fate of a small and powerless ship sunken in the sea of ice. (Z.P.)
Drawing the City Skopje; (Re)mapping the City, 1980-2000
Zivko Popovski, Goce Adzi-Mitrevski, Minas Bakalcev, Mitko Hadzi-Pulja, Martin Guleski. Dimitrije Golubovski, Domnika Boskova, and a group of motivated students from the Faculty of Architecture, UKIM University, Skopje
We found these drawings, together with Prof Martin Guleski and Jovan Ivanovski, in the ‘Cabinet’ on the third floor of UKIM’s Faculty of Architecure in Skopje, in autumn 2014.
Impressed by the study from the late 1980’s entitled ‘A Street in Skopje’, a thorough and refined documentaion of all of the buildings on a particular street in Skopje (best known as Ul.Maxim Gorky), undertaken by architects Goce Adzi-Mitrevski, Martin Guleski, Dimitrije Golubovski, and Domnika Boskova, I wanted to see the drawings that showed how this form of mapping and re-drawing the city had started among the group of architects who had later prepared this impressive publication. I learned that these Nolli-like city mappings, had started with investigations undertaken by Prof. Zivko Popovski and his team of assistants and collaborators within this particular department of the Architecture Faculty, now led by Jovan Ivanovski. This is where we found the roll of drawings, which we have borrowed for this exhibtion, displaying as they are, as working drawings – and not as complete, finalised drawings, but as a reflection of the investigative, research process they represented for the architects who drew them.
It seems that this particular place (the ‘Cabinet’ related to the design subject ‘Foundations of Architectural Design’), adjacent to the Main Auditorium and the Great Hall’ on the third floor, has always had a particular aura, setting it apart from the other tall-ceilinged, generous spaces of the vast and labyrinthine building that defines the home of the Architecture Faculty in Skopje. It is an aura related to the individuals who worked/work there and the activities it has generated, acting as a veritable ‘architectural research centre’ and where the professors, in collaboration with their colleagues, assistants and even students, engaged in research and competition projects of various kinds. This place has left its mark through the passion for architecture still borne by many of those who were involved in the collaborative work at the time, under Zivko Popovski’s leadership.
The drawings show a love for the city and display the belief that through observing, measuring, drawing and documenting the buildings and spaces of the city, not only is one enabling a re-appraisal of the qualities of the city, but ensuring that propositions for new buildings and public spaces are developed with an awareness and knowledge of the existing, and therefore with an appropriate sensitivity for the urban and architectural context. As suggested by Pier Vittorio Aureli (in relation to the ‘Heart’ project developed by DOGMA), ‘re-drawing the city’ is also a form of ‘reclaiming the city’. (D.S.)
To draw and re-draw Skopje repeatedly, to survey the city with the architect’s handwriting, in a language close to architecture but at the scale of urban design – is an act which expresses commitment and professional care for the city. To draw and re-draw the city, results from a passion for research and the ambition to delve into the city’s essence, to ‘revive’ and ‘re-activate’ the maps of the city, to re-open important themes and to re-discover hidden opportunities.
Drawing Skopje, is a method of understanding and ‘reading’ the city through a series of drawings (maps and plans in various sizes and at different scales), which do not accentuate the usual contrasting qualities of the ‘solid’ and the ‘void’ (the positive and the negative), negating thereby the ‘black and white’ image of the city, in order to clarify the links between the open and closed spaces of the city, and highighting the relation between additions to the already built – and the open, unbuilt spaces of the city. The drawings develop slowly – both in their formation and in their reading. Step by step. For the most part, they develop according to what happens at ground level, where obstacles are removed, and the buildings are drawn (either partially or in their entirety) as ‘open plans’…. and this, in turn, ‘opens up’ the city.
These drawings of Skopje were created throughout the years, with persistent research in the archives, sketching on site, through purposeful visits as well as wanderings around the city. These drawings witness the traces left by a group of enthusiats (gathered around the subject ‘Foundations of Architectural Design’), a group of architects in love with the city: Zivko Popovski, Goce Adzi-Mitrevski, Minas Bakalchev, Mitko Hadzi-Pulja, Martin Guleski, Dimitrije Golubovski, Domnika Boskova, and a motivated group of students – all from the Faculty of Architecture in Skopje. (D.B.)
Jovan Ivanovski, Vladimir Deskov, Paolina Miluševa, Biljana Temelkovska, Ivan Nikolovski, Sanja Lilitkin, Nina Karangeleska Todorovska, Martin Efremovski, Sanja Taseva, Bisera Krckovska, Aleksandar Baldazarski (photography)
Presumably inspired by the title of Italo Calvino’s classic (cult) book ‘Inviisble Cities’, the research project ‘Invisible Skopje’ uncovers the hidden qualities of a number of ‘less visible’ public spaces of the city. These are the discreet, neglected and often forgotten city spaces which we have grown accustomed to, have taken for granted, and only now begin to fully appreciate – now, that they are being lost / erased / replaced or filled. These are the once generous urban spaces which belonged at the same time to no-one and to everyone, and which through the slow process of post-socialist privatization of public space, as well as through the rushed imposition of the more recent ‘unqualified’ governmental urban policies, are steadily losing their essential urban and architectural qualities and their sense of urban and (sub)cultural identity.
The study ‘Invisible Skopje’, consisting of the documentation and comparative typological analysis of 51 of these less visible pockets of urban space, was developed in the period between 2009-2013, by a core team of 10 architects and architecture students (listed above) under the leadership of Jovan Ivanovski, and supported by researchers from related fields – in particular by the Italian urban anthropoligist, Fabio Mattioli. The results of the research project were publicly exhibited within the Museum of the City of Skopje, in December 2013 and published in an accompanying catalogue / guidebook entitled ‘Invisible Skopje – An Architectural Guidebook’, with essays by Jovan Ivanovski and Fabio Mattioli, and with photographs by Alexander Baldazarski. The current presentation of the material at SIA, as part of ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at the City’, is selective rather than comprehensive, shedding new light on this extensive, original study, and its continued / increasing relevance in the current, local, socio-political climate in Macedonia. (D.S)
A house. Stills and thoughts
Debar Maalo in the plays of Goran Stefanovski
Vlado Danailov, Monika Novkovikj and Gordan Vitevski
This research project is a collaboration between three young architects, all recent graduates from the Faculty of Architecture of the University Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje, who together are ‘making their first steps on the architectural and cultural scene in Macedonia’. This project, currently in its early stages, is charachteristic of their shared interests and working methods, developing their ideas through various tools: from long discussions to precise, conceptual physical models and drawings. With a selfproclaimed common interest in the ‘possibilities of a better city’, they started collaborating on competitions and projects. Here, they investigate the notions of the traditional family home, as seen through an analysis of spatial themes in the plays of Goran Stefanovski. Thier project is exhibited as an installation incorporating one of the gallery windows, looking out onto the Debar Maalo neghbourhood in Skopje, which is the basis of their study, and itself an area of the city often reflected upon in Stefanovski’s works. (D.S)
The decision to demolish a house for the purpose of erecting another in its stead is a common urban situation. Although slowly changing the image of a neighborhood and the image of a city, this decision strongly challenges the relations between the members of a family. It confronts their different perceptions, values and ideas of what makes a home, and with that, notinos of tradition and belonging. On the other hand, it places the architect in the position of an observer of the phenomenon of city growth from within, i.e., through the eyes of its dwellers. What does a house mean? What are the intrinsic values upon which the concept of a house is built?
Goran Stefanovski is a London-based Macedonian playwright, screenwriter and essayist. He dissects these issues in his plays (Wild Flesh, The Black Hole, The False Bottom…) through the souls, words and actions of the members of a traditional Balkan family. This research analyzes the daily events of Stefanovski’s protagonists reflecting on the socio-political context. They are faced with the fear of losing what they have built: space and memories. Building upon their inner conflicts, we compare their story with the author’s personal story and doubts. Placing the same dilemmas in a contemporary setting, we try to anticipate and rethink the idea of a house as an architectural artifact and socio-cultural construct. On a territory in continuous transition with an uncertain end, time of migrations and escapism, this research challenges the concept of a “family house” in Skopje.
We present stills and thoughts, physical traces of a house, a neighborhood and a city – in perpetual transformation. (V.D. / M.N. / G.V.)
Slobodan Velevski, Marija Mano Velevska and Ognen Marina
This project is part of a larger research and design initiative, including an initial process of mapping the city which developed into a series of interpretive ‘imagination maps’, which then served as stepping stones towards defining urban design strategies for the future growth of the city. The mappings and proposals were developed for 7 different parts of the city: Aerodrom, Bunjakovec, Cair, Hrom, Rasdnik, Taftalidje and the area of the Transport Center. The studies and projects are the result of a collaborative effort between the three tutors who led the design studio, the assitants Gordan Vitevski and Mika Dokuzova, and 21 final year students from the Faculty of Architecture of the University Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje, together with colleagues from TU Delft: the Chair of Methods and Analysis and the tutor Klaske Havik and 6 students from the ‘Transdiciplinary Encounters’ elective course. While the exhibition focuses on the research/mapping aspect of the collective work, the urban proposals are shown in the accompanying publication (entitled Skopje 2014: Patterns of Growth), a sample of which is included in the exhibition. (D.S) With an intention to better understand our material present and to clearly visualize its future, the city is observed through spatial sequences, focusing on distinguished fragments, or CUTOUTs of the city that resemble the overall vision, the idea, the strategy and even ideology of the city. The CUT OUT is a specific piece of land that might be considered an urban island (a city within the city), but also refers to the whole (the city) understood as an archipelago of islands that polemically establish relationships among themselves. The potential of the CUTOUT is recognized in the ability to embrace the valence of the cross disciplinary reading of spatial assemblages that connect architecture and urban scale and in that manner link social aspects with aesthetic values and pragmatic concerns of space. The exhibits present a part of the work conducted in the Design Studio at the Faculty of Architecture, University St. Cyril and Methodius. entitled Skopje 2014: PATTERNS OF GROWTH. The architecture of the city is being investigated through 7×1.5km2 CUTOUTs of the city of Skopje, following the key attributes of cityness: from territorial analysis to spatial imagination, using mapping both as a descriptive and a prescriptive tool in creating a strategy for the city – a way of seeing, exploring and tracing the contemporary narratives of urban space. (S.V/ M.M.V / O.M.)
DAMNED IN WHITE
Damjan has frequently brought me his books on Skopje. He is generous with his knowledge of the city and its architecture. His passion for the city and his appreciation of its modernist heritage (of which he always speaks as the shared heritage of the citizens of this city), can also be seen in some of his other, more personal investigations. This project is a survey and mapping of the ‘partizan monuments’ around the city – the monuments built as tributes to the victims of the Partizan resistance movement of WWII, erected during the era of former Jugoslavia. The author redraws the monuments, giving them an almost comic-like appearance, negating thereby their heavy materialty (usually stone), perhaps as a reflection of their status as virtually ‘forgotten monuments’. An accompanying booklet consists of photographic documentatino of the onuments, including their commemorative plates. Amidst the recent wave of monument building (the appearance of numerous, large monuments all over the city, particularly in the city centre), these more humble and, artistically speaking, valuable sculptures from a negated past, are now in poor condition. Damjan Momirovski’s caring eye can perhaps help these ‘true monuments’, from being abandoned to oblivion. The work includes a short text in the form of a very fine poem, an ode to the victims being commemorated by the various ‘forgotten’ monuments. (D.S.)
The continued neglect of the monuments from the period of the National Liberation War in Macedonia (as part of former Yugoslavia), developed in parallel with current policies aimed at minimizing the importance of the role of the Partizan movement in this country. A large number of monuments and commemorative landmarks, including the busts of national heroes, were destroyed; instead of functioning as places of remembrance, they have become symbolic places of our disrespect towards an extremely important part in the history of our country.
The Beheaded is an urban action, first performed in 2012 in Skopje. It is still in process, as an ongoing work whose goal is to mark, to highlight and commemorate all the places in Macedonia where these busts were either damaged or completely destroyed – in order to speak about our relationship to our own history and the legacy and importance of the anti-fascist movement in our country. (G.J.)
11 Theses about GTC
One of the city’s key modernist buildings, the City Commercial Centre GTC (Gradski Trgovski Centar) is a building resulting from a competition winning project designed by renowned architect Zivko Popovski and his team of collaborators in the 1970’s. One of the key urban artifacts, It occupies a vast territory in the middle of the city centre, adjacent to the main city square. With its porous quality, alignment with and integration of the city’s main axes, the building is essentially based on a modernist interpretation of the old (Turkish) city quarter, with its numerous shops and market-like structure.
The GTC plays an important role within the social fabric of the city – something recognized and appreciated by everyond. People walk through it, shop in it, meet there with friends for coffee, dinner or a film at the cinema – everyone has vivid memories related to this building. As a result, it has a unique place in the collective memory of the citizens of Skopje, which explains the intense campaign for the protection and preservation of its original and authentic form, in the current cultural context in which many other valuable examples of modern architecture have already been defaced or lost. The GTC building has somehow symbolically become like a fortress or resistance – the last stronghold, which the citizens are not prepared to give up.
In the above-mentioned context, the Macedonian Association of Architects, together with a particularly dedicated group of citizens and civil activists, organized a series of events opposing the government policies and intentions to re-dress the building in a neo-Baroque façade which would also enclose the building, transforming it into a purely commercial, mall-like structure. Such a transformation would negate not only the building’s authentic modernist visual expression, but also deny its porous qualities, which with its large percentage of public space (around 60%) currently enables it to function like a ‘city-within-the-city’. The most vivid civil activist events were highlighted in the campaign entitled ‘We Love GTC’, with specific civil actions such as ‘Go Guskame GTC’ (We are Hugging the GTC), in which citizens of Skopje encircled the building with joined hands, in an action based on the idea of ‘embracing’ the building and symbolically ‘protecting’ if from the threat of seemingly irrevocable change.
Prior to the recent public referendum in relation to the proposed changes or preservation of the building’s original form, ten architects and cultural theorists were invited (by the artist /curator duo Filip Jovanovski and Ivana Vaseva) to participate in a public debate regarding the qualities of the building, each formulating their thoughts in the form of 11 theses regarding GTC. The resulting discussions and public debate was subsequently documented in the form of a book, entitled 111 Theses for GTC (111 Tezi za GTC), edited by Filip Jovanovski and Ivana Vaseva, and published in spring 2015.
As one of the invited participants Prof. Minas Bakalchev, the Dean of UKIM’s Faculty of Architecture in Skopje, participated with his own reflections on ‘living with GTC’, as developed through his 11 theses. Through these ‘11 theses for GTC’, Minas highlights the urban qualities of this particular building and its role withiin the city, as well as in his own life – being a place where he has lived for about half a century (in one of the five residential towers by A.Serafimovski, integrated within the GTC complex). Each of the 11 theses is accompanied by a visual reference to a related building / idea / place / spatial or urban quality, ranging from a scene in Fellini’s ‘Amarcord’ (showing the communal celebration of the arrival of an enormous ocean liner), plans of Diocletian’s Palace in Split, to images of Cedric Price’s “Potteries Think Belt’ and ‘Fun Palace’projects.
This work consists of a framed composition of a series of A4 sheets, one for each of Minas’ 11 theses, combining the text with the related visual reference for ech thesis.
The 11 thesis for GTC are introduced by a short text (also by MInas Bakalchev, and again borrowed from the abovementioned book) which describes the reflections behind the thesis regarding the qualities and potential of GTC, as a form of shared authorship:
The work entitled ‘When the City Blossoms’, although exhibited in a different gallery space at SIA, accompanies and complements Prof. Minas’ reflections on living with GTC, as a personal addendum to the more academic reflections on the architectural, urban and historical values of the GTC center presented in the work ‘11 Thesis about GTC’. The project ‘When the City Blossoms’ consists of a series of photographic observations, co-authored with Violeta Bakalchev during their daily walks in the immediate vicinity of their home and the GTC complex, which document the architects’ discovery, amidst their everyday surroundings, of a parallel dimension in a world of self-growing plants and flowers, whose sudden and ‘almost miraculous’ emergence from amongst the gaps and cracks between the concrete surfaces of the ruinous city, is interpreted as a sign of hope and regeneration for the city of Skopje, in a time of deep crisis. (D.S)
To Die of Love (MOURIR D’AIMER) *
The project “To Die of Love” shows our love for the city of Skopje, through our struggle for it. The project symbolically represents various attempts to defend the city from the intentions and endeavors of the current government and political elite over the past nine years (2006-2015), to endanger the public space and cultural memory of the city, which resulted in a series of collective activist practices as a recognizable, authentic form of civic resistance.
The work consists of 4 actions whose goal is to unite memories of the city; two of these actions were performed in a private room (the artist’s apartment) while the other two took place in public spaces of the city. In this work, the dichotomy of public-private becomes the one and only space where the author’s personal ‘space for living’ (his studio/apartment), has been spatially and programmatically remodeled into a ‘space of struggle’. Through this process of transformation, the boundaries between public and private, and between the official/visible and the unofficial/invisible memory of the city, (as expressed through personal experiences / struggles / civil actions to rescue the city0, have been erased. This project shows the following four actions:
1. Remembering July 26, 1963. Photograph of the action taken on 26.07.2013 on the occasion of 50 years from the Skopje earthquake; the location is a private terrace belonging to an appartment in a building on Maxim Gorky street, Skopje (the artist’s home).
The action consisted of releasing a loud aural siren at exactly 5:17 pm on July 26, marking the precise moment of the 50th year commemoration of the catastrophic 1963 earthquake in Skopje. The action was intended to awaken citizens that morning, and to remind them that the earthquake in the city – the cultural, historic one – is not yet over. The archival footage of Radio Television Skopje from 25th July, 1963, includes the final words of the radio host announcing that the following day (26 July, the morning of the earthquake), the official program would begin at 5 am with a song by Charles Aznavour ‘To Die of Love’ (MOURIR D’AIMER). Participants in this action: Nikola Pisarev, Nikola Naumoski, Sanja Arsovska, Anastasia Paneva Pisarev.
2. The Liberation of Skopje – A walk through the historical sites commemorating the historic day of the liberation of Skopje (13.11.1944), including the action of positioning a cardboard monument honouring the victims of Skopje from the day of the city’s liberation.
70 years after the liberation of our capital, more and more monuments disappear, museum exhibits go missing, and young generations know increasingly less about the battles that took place in and around the capital, the main protagonists of these battles, etc. Therefore, on the 14th November (instead of the Liberation Day, the 13th!) a group of citizens led by activist Nikola Naumoski, visited some of the locations where the victorious battles against the fascists, were fought. The walk was supplemented and enriched with the memories of several surviving liberation fighters (from the historic 12th Assault Brigade), who participated in the walk. In addition to the commemorative walk, a group of citizens set up a monument cardboard – a replica of the original ‘Monument to the Citizen Victims of Skopje’ which disappeared during the construction of the Skopje 2014 project, and was never replaced. The author of the concept of the historical walks, was activist Nikola Naumoski. The cardboard monument (replica of the original monument of the Executed Citizens of Skopje 11/13/1944) was an action initiated by a group of citizens with the intention of reminding Koce Trajanovski, the Mayor of Skopje, about his promise that the original monument would be restored to its original place (something which has not yet happened and a promise which not yet been honoured).
Photographs: Vanco Djambaski
3. Choir practice by the activist choir ensemble ‘Raspeani Skopjani’ on 2.06.2013 within a private apartment on the street Maxim Gorky, Skopje (the artist’s studio / apartment).
4. The campaign for a referendum for saving GTC (the City Trade Center), held on 26.04.2015 year.
* Title of a song by Charles Aznavour