Members of HAEMUS will take part at the upcoming conference ‘Public Art in the Balkans, 19th-21st centuries: intentions, interpretations, controversy‘, scheduled for March 14-15, 2013, at the American Research Center in Sofia (Bulgaria).
The aim of this table is public art in the Balkans which is explicit and frequently the subject of great controversy. Having inherited concepts from Rome, Byzantium and more recent empires, political leaders, municipalities and private individuals in the Balkans have filled public squares, parks and the facades of buildings with displays of art. Public Art displays and expresses the deeds, accomplishments, sorrows, identity, and values of leaders, cities, nations and empires. 19th and 20th century Public Art reflects nation-building, political alliances and ideology, while art installed after 1989 ranges from explicitly anti-Socialist to experiments in an uncertain world.
SPECTACULAR POWER AND IDENTITY: CONTEMPORARY PUBLIC ART IN MACEDONIA
Zoran Poposki, Hong Kong Institute of Education
Vsilka Dimitrovska, Haemus – Center for scientific research and promotion of culture
In 2010, the Macedonian Government launched a massive architectural project entitled “Skopje 2014”, introducing a wide array of singular interventions in the center of the nation’s capital, ranging from neoclassical public buildings, equestrian statues, to public monuments, and fountains, even a Triumphant Arch, in an effort to establish Macedonian identity in reference to European, Christian, and bourgeois values, and in denial of its Oriental and Islamic Past. With its monuments of Macedonian historic figures, culminating with a 30-meter statue of Alexander the Great, the main City square of Skopje has become a place of seclusion and spectacular power and a hotspot of symbolic demarcation of identity, and as such a major point of contention between the different communities in the city. This paper will explore the extent and reasons for this major transformation of public space in Skopje, as well as the types of publics and counterpublics produced by these narratives of identity.
Key words: spectacular public space, urban spaces, post-socialism, Macedonia